Barcelona Mobility

In 2015 I published a Fast Company article about the three generations of smart cities observable around the world.

The 3 generations were:
Smart Cities 1.0 Tech driven
Smart Cities 2.0 Technology Enabled, City-led
Smart Cities 3.0 Citizen Co-creation

After engaging with hundreds of mobility experts around the globe, I have come to the conclusion that a diversity of smart mobility visions has emerged in recent years which mirror the 3 generations of smart cities. These will continue to grow and diverge (or converge) over the next decade 2020–2030.

Mobility 1.0-Tech driven, car-centric
You can’t attend any mobility conference in the world these days without being nearly overwhelmed with the number of new technologies and companies driving the narrative that tech will solve our mobility challenges. Urban air mobility is getting a lot of play, whether it be drones for logistics deliveries or flying taxis to shuttle people faster over croweded cities. Similarly, excitement abounds around autonomous vehicles, connected cars, and the latest electric vehicle from Elon Musk or mainstream car companies trying to catch up to Tesla. Mobility 1.0 is a dominant paradigm in many Western cities, especially those with weak public transit infrastructure and low support for increased investment in mass transit models.

Mobility 1.0 also tends to be the home of many deeply funded mobility startups who at least started with the idea that, as tech-driven venture-backed companies, they could arrive to cities without permission and operate in a vacuum. Many of these companies have realized that model, especially in Europe, but now in North America (e.g. see the lawsuit between Uber and Los Angeles for a recent example), have adapted their approach in an attempt to appease local reguators and maintain their license to operate.

Mobility 2.0-Technology enabled, city-led
Mobility 2.0 embraces emerging mobility technologies but is marked by more leadership in cities to shape the mobility ecosystem. Here we are seeing cities assert more control over what types of mobility services will be allowed to operate, how many licenses will be offered to such services, where are their vehicles allowed to be parked and circulate and more. In Europe, for example, we are seeing more excitement around autonomous shuttles compared with autonomous passenger vehicles. The reason: many cities are trying to move away from car-centricity, regardless of whether they are electric or autonomous and towards more shared models. Depending on the region of the world, Mobility 2.0 may or may not have a strong public transit emphasis, where the private operators are seen as complementary services. Similarly, we are seeing walled-garden multimodal solutions emerge from well capitalized ridehailing companies, who have moved on from an original view of ubquitous autonomous ridehailing to a more nuanced approach to including micromobility services and ridehahiling, and in some cases selling public transit as well.

Mobility 3.0-Human & Planet Centric
Instead of focusing on the vehicle technology, in Mobility 3.0, the driving factor is improving quality of life, providing inclusive access to a range of mobility services and, as Scott Shepard recently wrote, embracing a hub and spoke model of mobility with a strong focus on public transit and rail services, supplemented by micromobility and other first and last mile solutions.

In Mobility 3.0, the assumption is that cities must focus on people movement in more sustainable and healthy ways, reducing congestion, air contamination and climate change.

Cities destined to become tomorrow’s mobility leaders are forward-thinking and user-centric. Guillaume Thibault, Partner Oliver Wyman, reflecting on Urban Mobility Readiness Index.

One goal of Mobility 3.0 is to support modal shift from personal vehicles to shared mobility services. To achieve this, the human-centric view suggests that the UX of alternatives must exceed that of driving your own car. Mobility as a Service has emerged as a transformational tool to make it more convenient to use a range of services in a seamless way in cities and regions than to drive your own car to go from A to B.

Just as a I wrote in the Fast Company article years ago, it is not necessarily true that the three models I propose here are mutually exclusive. For example, some early tech push and bold action by well funded startups can help stimulate new choices that end up being part of Mobility 3.0. E-scooter sharing services, bikesharing services, and yes, even global and regional ridehailing services may have a very important role in the future of a Mobility 3.0 ecosystem. Those services and the ones to come, may further support a human-centric and planet centric, globally roaming MaaS ecosystem.

In Mobility 3.0, MaaS solutions should be fully open systems, having open APIs to democratize access to an open network effect, allowing the users to decided which services is best for them, without having to download 20 apps in every city they travel to. In the future I believe any vehicle: public, private or shared will be able to be part of an open MaaS ecosystem. What if Musk’s new cybertruck also came with the ability for the owner to turn on a peer to peer (P2P) carpooling function when the driver has empty seats on their journey, or even a P2P carsharing function when the owner is leaving the truck at the airport for 3 days?

Recent mobility stakeholder workshop in Barcelona, led by Factual

The photo above depicts a recent workshop in Barcelona hosted by the highways administrator, facilitated by a regional mobility consultancy, Factual, and attended by representatives of local public transit, regional trains (Ferrocariles), a parking company (Saba), micromoblity entrepreneurs (Reby), university representatives, a regional auto club (RACC), Iomob and others.

Naturally, Mobility 3.0 is going to require more investment in infrastructure, especially dedicated lanes for pedestrians, non-motorized micromobility, and motorized microbility (most likely at the expense of car lanes), requires a strong commitment to robust public transit to serve as the hub of the open mobility ecosystem, bold leadership from city and transit authorities to embrace innovation, creating sandboxes for experimentation but also accelerated regulation models to ensure safety and public interest is enhanced by new services and mobility entrepreneurs (and investors) willing to work with authorities, residents and even competitors to embrace open MaaS platforms.

About us:
Iomob is working to decentralize and build the Internet of Mobility, by incentivizing and facilitating the use of alternative transport. By using the blockchain, Iomob plans to minimize fees and allow mobility providers and end-users alike to connect on a peer-to-peer basis. In their own words: Iomob is “a system which produces a useful output at the lowest possible marginal cost.”

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Boyd is a researcher and entrepreneur in smart, sustainable & entrepreneurial cities, He´s authored 3 books & is CEO of IoMob.