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Embracing urban mobility to move with the times

Nurdianah Md Nur | July 29, 2014
Charbel Auon of Schneider Electric talks about the requirements of urban mobility and how to overcome the challenges to implement it.

The other area where major challenges can crop up is collaboration. As mentioned earlier, the various stakeholders -- government, businesses and citizens - need to be freely sharing data in order for a smart transportation system to work. Programmes such as Singapore's Open Data Initiative - which makes public all government datasets - will enable private and public sector organisations to use and analyse the data to build actionable solutions that improve the quality of the transport network.

Another challenge which commonly occurs is data collection and analytics - how can cities harness the data being generated by the people and vehicles which use its transport system, and better use it to understand where the deficiencies in the system lie? Some of the possible answers to this question can be found in Singapore. For example, the Singapore Land Transport Authority is has started exploring the application of fusion analytics to allow public transport operators to better manage public transport incidents and special events through improved resource allocation and pre-emptive crowd management.

Key to overcoming all of these is to design a holistic solution that will look at both the demand and supply side of mobility and has the capability to manage and distribute mobility as and when needed.

How should one develop a model to implement smart urban mobility solutions?
Taking a collaborative, ecosystem approach is probably the best way to implement a smart urban mobility solution in the future. By giving everyone a stake in the success of the transport system, it's easier to get the buy-in from the parties involved.

Earlier, we talked about the importance of data in enabling the success of urban mobility. The data needs to be made public by city officials, as that will help kick-start the process developing the smart mobility value chain. City governments should convene interested parties from different departments and private institutions to explore city challenges and the ways in which data could assist. Collaboration from citizens will also help fill in the blanks where missing data sets inevitably will be.

Implementation-wise, the authorities should no longer be seen as the top down driver for such initiatives but more of an enabler in ensuring that the ecosystem is able to develop. As we have seen, many successful smart mobility solutions are developed by start-ups and small companies, using open data from city government. But what the government can do in this regard is to provide strong and clear leadership in the development and implementation of effective smart city governance.

For example, the city of San Francisco has appointed a Chief Innovation Officer who works directly with start-ups and citizens to co-create services, whilst other cities are also hiring and filling positions such as Chief Information Officers and Chief Technology Officers. These people are experts in understanding about the value of digital infrastructure, the appropriate technical specifications, and the principles of holistic system design.


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