- What could the private sector do to fund city climate mitigation and adaption projects?
- Is your office location strategy optimized for climate change and what are you doing to address this risk?
- What new business opportunities could arise from the reshaping urban infrastructure in response to climate disruption?
Disruptive digital technologies will reinvent mobility within cities
How people get around cities — for work or other purposes — shapes the way those cities grow. So, profound changes in mobility enabled by digital technologies will reshape the future urban landscape. Three interrelated disruptive mobility technologies — ride-sharing, autonomous vehicles (AVs) and electric vehicles (EVs) — will collectively transform the future of cities by spurring new uses for roads, traffic lanes, parking garages and more.
To understand where things are headed, consider the impact of the disruption with which most of us are already familiar: ride-sharing platforms. The average car sits unused 95% of the time. Even when in use, most cars have underutilized capacity in the form of vacant seats. Ride-sharing can potentially squeeze these inefficiencies out of the system by combining data, algorithms and creative business models to deploy transportation assets more efficiently. Yet so far, ride-sharing has often exacerbated urban congestion, by substituting for public transit more than individual automobiles. The addition of AVs and EVs could change that, and reinvent cities in the process.
An AV can remain in operation around the clock, mitigating the 95% underutilization and reducing the need for so many vehicles. As AVs take off, car ownership is expected to plummet, bringing dramatically lower traffic congestion and a significant reduction in the urban footprint devoted to vehicles. Roads and traffic lanes could be landscaped for floodwater remediation. Parking lots could be transformed into green spaces and micro-housing. Parking garages could be repurposed as urban farms.
EVs might similarly reshape urban infrastructure. Filling and service stations could be repurposed because EVs need much less servicing than internal combustion vehicles and will likely be recharged at parking spots.
AVs may even transform the very role of the car. Instead of just providing transportation, cars could be redesigned to fulfill other needs, such as sleep or entertainment. This would make long commutes painless, leading to lower urban density and a rebalancing of population away from city centers. The future of mobility could reinvent cities, making them much more efficient and resilient.
“The future of mobility could reinvent cities, making them much more efficient and resilient,” says Vineet Gupta, Director of Planning for the Boston Transportation Department. “Instead of 1.2 people per car, if we could achieve an average of 4 or 5 people per car, we could open up travel lanes for other uses.