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A new reality for urban mobility: smart solutions for a resilient future
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A new reality for urban mobility
John Howe
Mobility and Policy Solutions Lead
Peter Hall
Global Director – Sustainable & Resilient Infrastructure

We live in a world of frequent disruption, constant change and ongoing uncertainty. The current backdrop of pandemic recovery, climate impacts and resource constraints call for city and transportation leaders who embrace change, focus on smart solutions and equip urban areas for an unknown future.

In the past decade, we’ve experienced significant advances in mobility with enhanced connection of people to places that enable us to live to our potential – workplaces, schools, housing, goods and services –  through sustainable infrastructure, innovative technology and improved user experience. From the increased adoption of alternative fuel and electric cars and the advent of autonomous vehicles, to the shift from personally owned transportation modes to Mobility as a Service (MaaS) enabling door-to-door trip and delivery planning services through mobile apps, the movement of people and goods revolves around integrated and seamless connection to multiple options that can be tailored on demand.

The global pandemic has put our future course in question. With many aspects of shared mobility coming to a halt, we may be left with devastating economic impacts. While we don’t know what’s next, cities can’t afford to stand still and see what unfolds. We know that mobility services will regain momentum based on new demands and personal and public health will play a larger role than before. We also know that we must be better prepared for future shocks and stresses. To achieve this, we need cities that are more physically and digitally connected while also supported by agile systems that respond and adapt to change.

Unlocking our new reality

With unknown timeframes for pandemic and economic recovery in a backdrop of constantly changing conditions, how do we develop a strategy for new urban mobility? How can we achieve more sustainable and connected mobility? How can cities be more resilient to future events?

  1. Start by accepting, preparing for and embracing change.

    From fires and floods, to droughts and pandemics, we must give a wide consideration to global risks is in local context. A good handle on how cities and regions are vulnerable to these risks and an open mind to re-imagine and retrofit systems and technology, will help maintain a stable flow of people and goods in changing conditions.

  2. Take what we have learned to identify what we must improve.

    The pandemic demonstrates the enormous role public and personal health plays in how we travel, consume, work, socialise and communicate. In response to disruptions to our economy, daily life and of flow of people and goods, we have seen up to 90% decrease in commuter transport ridership in some cities, supply shocks with goods from China and demand shocks with the proliferation of e-commerce deliveries. We have also experienced ingenuity in how people and goods get to where they need to go, a spark in more active modes of commuter transportation, pollution levels in some cities falling as much as 60% and an acceleration in the work from home movement.

    Reflecting on what we have learned: How can we design transportation and supply networks that are flexible to changing demands and public preferences? How do we achieve more economic stability? How can we better account for carbon impacts and build resiliency to unknown shocks and stresses? And what is key to success in providing a seamless experience for users and operations?

  3. Focus on smart and agile solutions that foster future resilience.

    Challenges from the pandemic present a host of possibilities in developing solutions for smarter urban growth and mobility. Digital technology to capture, model and track movement of people and goods in real-time using mobile integration and apps is key to remodeling city networks and adapting to changing demands. Flexible models that account for costs and benefits associated with new efficient ways of moving people and goods will help to determine how we invest and subsidize transportation and supply networks and build more economic resilience. To manage climate impacts and potential disruptive risks, businesses and governments must come together, pool global expertise and develop smart infrastructure that protects us from vulnerabilities while promoting a sustainable future.

    Bringing conceptual transportation systems and networks to life allows us to test user experience and resilience to shocks and stresses. By using artificial intelligence, we can develop virtual reflections of engineering designs, processes and flows of people and goods, capture data and monitor health of assets and operations in a range of scenarios.

Our view

At Wood, we see our new urban mobility reality as a positive direction for the economy and society. It’s an opportunity to rethink priorities and create beneficial outcomes for all. To get a head start in developing a strategy for future urban mobility and fostering long-term resiliency, ask the following questions:

  • How am I leveraging digital technology to model new demands and reshape city networks?
  • Am I tuned in to global mobility trends and do I have the right people to deliver smart infrastructure?
  • How do my cost models, budgets and funding strategies align with new goals of all stakeholders and allow for flexible adjustments and better tracking of spend?
  • Do my plans incorporate disruptive scenarios, incident preparedness and climate impacts?

Learn more about reimagining and creating new mobility plans that unlock future resilience by reading our Viewpoint.

Read our viewpoint

Interested in learning more about how we can transform your mobility planning strategy?

Contact us

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