Entering a new era of value creation
Frictionless transport is arriving fast
The business case for transport improvements is clear. In many societies, commuting time and distance continues to rise, even as flexible working mitigates growth in overall journeys.
In the US, average commuting time increased 18% between 1990 and 2014,1 while rapid urbanization means many cities in emerging markets now compete with developed market population centres for the longest journey times.
Improvements are already coming – improved transit systems are a cornerstone of smart city planning, and smartphone apps continue to redefine traveller access to data.
Looking ahead, the prospect for truly frictionless travel is promising. Virgin Hyperloop One, an investor in electromagnetic rail transport, believes its system can reduce the journey time from Los Angeles to Las Vegas from between two and five hours to just 30 minutes.2
The upside is not just limited to a smoother commute and increased productivity – research suggests a positive correlation between shorter commutes and overall life satisfaction.
Meanwhile, the prospect of augmented reality, driverless cars and upgraded transport hubs creates new opportunities for retailers, advertisers, hospitality providers and more. Concepts of downtime will change. Shopping will move from the aisle and tablet to the ticketing desk, and tourism services can be gamified en route to the next world heritage site.
Collaborative innovation can help meet challenges head on
However, challenges are never far from the surface. From traveller safety to consent-based location-sensitive marketing, delivering a truly frictionless travel experience will require overcoming a number of hurdles.
Immature technologies, nascent regulation and standards, the cost burden of legacy infrastructures and evolving consumer anxieties may all work against a reimagining of transport. Effective data governance and protection will also have a large say in determining the success of infrastructure integration initiatives.
In this light, it is vital that different public and private sector actors work more closely together. Creating new visions must be supported by fostering new forms of dialogue. Forward planning cycles will lengthen and more holistic industrial policies are vital, but so is tackling the operational intricacies of harnessing digital and real-world infrastructure.
Ecosystems will comprise an ever greater range of players – from transport providers and local and national governments to entrepreneurs, mobile network operators and systems integrators. Looking ahead, the dialogue between these different actors needs to be as frictionless as the transport infrastructures they aim to create.