Accelerating innovation in new mobility services: matching sustainable new business models to local potential.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Institute for Transport Studies

Abstract

This is an exciting yet somewhat uncertain point of transition for the transport sector. The media frequently carries news stories on innovations in cleaner transport technologies (particularly electric vehicles) and visions for how people will travel in the future. These visions are dominated by new mobility services (NMS). They include sharing schemes for cars, bikes and taxis. All are based on Information and Communications Technology such as joining smartphones and apps, with vehicles and devices that are 'smart'. The other common feature is that NMS all have a connection to data and usually 'big data'. Smart cards and apps harvest data as do insurance telematics boxes in cars. Bikes from sharing schemes can be tracked with GPS, companies are basing their business models, pricing and marketing on harvested big data. Meanwhile government collects millions of MOT test certificates each year, and carries out travel surveys, CCTV cameras with number plate recognition are a common feature of many cities.
This rapid digitisation and connectivity might help make better use of existing infrastructure, create new business opportunities change the way people own vehicles and pay for travel. There is some evidence that the way people choose to travel 'their mobility preferences' at least among the younger generation is changing. NMS might make travel easier and better for some groups of people in some places.
These emerging changes could dramatically reduce energy demand from personal transport if certain issues are dealt with together. There has to be a reasonable potential market for a NMS to be viable but the local transport planners also have to understand how the NMS would affect the transport system and the workings of the city. To provide this understanding we need to know the relationships between local travel patterns such as where people live and where they need to get to, transport infrastructure (like the state of roads, railways and bike lanes), the social and demographic factors that affect whether a person can afford or physically get access to a NMS, the state of labour and job markets and where new vehicle technologies and services are available.
If city planners or NMS providers do not examine the range of information about different issues, the new technologies and services could lead to lead to greater demand for mobility for example people might make more journeys and go further resulting in more transport energy use. NMS might only be offered in some areas where large numbers of customers could pay high prices, making it relatively harder for poor or rural areas to get access to services, jobs and other activities. There is also a potential problem that if governments and local authorities do not have appropriate policies and regulations in place to govern the gathering ownership and use of big mobility data, then there might be a loss of public control over data and the ability to steer developments to meet societal objectives. In other words, the risks are that the rapid arrival of such businesses could simply add to the familiar story that people are told that new products are energy efficient and thus sustainable but in actual fact they are not really sustainable because they have negative social and environmental impacts
This project will take an 'interdisciplinary perspective' which means it will link and analyse data from government and private organisations but also work with transport policy makers to understand the local social and environmental issues that need to be considered to make changes in mobility in particular places work socially, economically and environmentally.

Planned Impact

By design this research project is framed around integrating datasets at an uncertain point in transformation of the transport sector. The data accessed will provide insights into ways in which local policy makers (e.g. practioners / planners and politicians at city region and local authority level) may gain policy insights on the potential for sustainable and socially equitable mobility solutions to arise from NMS.
There will be positive impacts for the following:
National Govt departments and agencies e.g. the Department for Transport, particularly experts working with statistics and data division and the Think People division plus members of departments and related agencies who were involved in the MOT Project. They will benefit by observing the extent to which the relationships between commercial, academic and city authority lead to public good which also impacts positively on economic wellbeing. This will inform discussions of development of the governance and regulatory frameworks for the use of new mobility data and multi-organisation data fusion within transport planning.
There are several business needs that have been established through direct discussion with project partners (The Floow, GMPTE and several bus operators). These discussions initially came about as a result of presenting / disseminating results from the RCUK funded MOT project which has created much interest in the data developed during this research.
Within TfGM policy makers and practitioners will benefit through enhanced understanding of the mobility needs of the populations of small areas. Understanding of whether NMS could bring the following benefits for particular groups of people in particular small areas: increased access to opportunities, capability to reduce car use. Analyses that could inform the business case of future public transport and integrated mobility services as well as active travel. Reduction in externalities associated with car use in different areas of the city. The direct benefits to TfGM that will enhance their policy making and planning would be delivered within the lifetime of the project. Beyond the life of the project there are opportunities for residents and visitors to TfGM's area of operation arising from implemented policies.
The Floow stand to benefit from the work through the opportunity to forge relationships with TfGM which may aid them in developing new data products and services. Discussions between Anable and the Floow have been progressing for many months as they see commercial opportunity serve markets and clients they currently do not engage with by exploiting open data opportunities. The fellowship provides an impact opportunity through the placement and working relationship that will be established to overcome data management and analysis challenges, as well as linking up with public transport operators.
Overall a number of recent and ongoing ITS and CDRC projects and ongoing involvement with organisations such as the Open Data Institute have highlighted the practical business need to build workflows that address inter-organisation transport data management, fusion and analysis.

Publications

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Description The emerging area of impact of this work is carrying out research using spatial analytical and geo-computational methods which describes the mobility needs capabilities and constraints of people in places which helps organisations such as Transport for Greater Manchester to appraise evaluate and support decision making which will allow the development of a pathway towards their strategic policy vision. The future of mobility is identified as a grand challenge in the UK Industrial strategy. The importance of considering the grand challenges in the context of people and places has been identified in the Industrial Strategy as a means by which positive societal impact will be achieved. Through the placement visits described in previous sections I have identified questions relevant to Transport for Greater Manchester, which can be addressed through this research fellowship. Initial data analysis has been presented and is being used by Transport for Greater Manchester to refine their approach to gaining insights from spatial data.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Transport
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services