Smart City Mobility Based on Desire
Are We About to Solve Our Urban Transport Problems?
Reconciling Needs and Desires
This is surely the most exciting and most challenging time for mobility since the advent of the automobile. Innovative manufacturers and city planners are creating a more diverse mobility portfolio than ever before. Not a minute too soon.
6.3 billion people will live in cities by 2050. That was the size of our global population only 10 years ago. Urbanization is exacerbating existing transport problems. We now seek urgent solutions to traffic congestion, pollution and climate change, and the depletion of fossil fuels.
In fact, road transport alone creates one-fifth of the EU's carbon emissions. While emissions in other sectors are finally falling, transport emissions have increased 36% since 1990.
Pollution from these emissions decreases life expectancy in Europe by one year on average. Children who live in congested areas are twice as likely to suffer respiratory ailments as those on tranquil streets.
We need the economy to flourish. Our children need to get to school safely. Deliveries need to be made on time. We need to get to work on time. Our emergency services need to be able to maneuver quickly.
Yet our desire for comfort and ease has kept our cities congested and polluted. Too many people still drive emission-belching, city-clogging private cars, because they are easier and more comfortable than other options.
Ecofriendly traffic-management schemes that look good on paper, like the Masdar experiment, have struggled. They failed to account for the powerful desires of urban residents and commuters. So, smart-city planners and manufacturers are working to create traffic-reducing, ecofriendly mobility options, which will satisfy our desires enough to motivate us to change.
What are the benefits and risks of these new, desire-based, smart urban mobility networks?
Christoph Watterott is Property Underwriting Manager for Switzerland and Italy at XL Group.