Which cities have the best mobility systems? TechWatch editor Emily McDaid takes a closer look at Deloitte’s City Mobility Index.
The future of mobility is currently a hot topic at Deloitte.
“One of six themes within our wider smart cities activity, mobility is getting increased global interest across our firm, and not just from our technologists,” said Colin Mounstephen, who leads Deloitte’s strategy and operations team in Belfast.
Deloitte published a City Mobility Index, a study of 18 cities around the world. The study reviews things such as public transportation, road systems, cycling and more, to give a snapshot of urban mobility and a city’s readiness for change.
Mounstephen explained that the future of mobility goes beyond just how people get around. “Technology, politics and social inclusion are all deeply impacted by mobility in cities.”
Innovation and a city’s economic prosperity are intrinsically linked to how well its residents can move around. Transportation is also deeply rooted in the culture of the place.
Among the champions are London, Singapore and Helsinki, noted to have some of the world’s best mobility systems.
But Mounstephen noted that every city has the opportunity to improve. “A city’s openness to ride-sharing, support for autonomous vehicles, collaborations between industry and academia, and the percentage of electric vehicles can all quickly improve its mobility.”
The City Mobility Index might come closer to home this year. “I am hopeful that Belfast could be in the next wave of cities to be studied,” said Mounstephen.
Who is positioned to gain financially from improved mobility in a city?
Mounstephen said: “Both private and public organisations can be winners. Often, the gut of a journey will be over mass transit, but the first and last mile might entail some form of private transportation.”
As any mobility expert agrees, the future is about multimodal transport. You might cycle from your house to the city bike hub that’s closest to your work, and then jump on the bus for the last mile. Or, you might drive to a park-and-ride outside a city.
“We’ve found there are certainly opportunities for the private sector to fill in the gaps around main transport routes,” Mounstephen told me. “But this doesn’t get the public sector off the hook – for example, there needs to be a seamless multimodal ticketing experience.”
Deloitte’s video Ben’s Journey describes a quite futuristic, multimodal commute home. In the video, Ben jumps into a car-sharing, self-driving car called a ‘Pod’. Meanwhile, he gets his groceries and pays for everything without taking his phone out of his pocket.
It looks way more fun than sitting behind the wheel in a traffic jam on the Westlink.
Can you describe any local projects you’re working on?
“Deloitte has many clients in the field of mobility. We worked with Transport for London, advising on ways to raise new revenue to help fund its massive infrastructure investment programme; and closer to home, helping transportation companies with their data analytics to make better decisions for their customers and business,” Mounstephen said.
“We also conducted our own research project internally. As one of Belfast’s larger employers, we took a staff survey about how they commute to work,” he said. “We had 180 responses within one hour, so it definitely caught people’s attention.”
When all 340 responses came in, “it showed that almost one-third of employees drive to work, which feels high considering we’re in the city centre,” Mounstephen said.
- 37pc of Deloitte employees use a bus or train, but 69pc could reasonably do so
- 22pc could reasonably car-share, while 5pc currently do
- Walking is popular – 20pc of Deloitte’s staff walk to work
The factors impacting their decisions are covered here.
Mounstephen concluded: “There’s potential to change Belfast, a modal shift, but it means changing attitudes and behaviours.”
He pointed to the Glider bus and increased cycling as evidence that the city is moving in the right direction.
By Emily McDaid, editor, TechWatch
A version of this article originally appeared on TechWatch