The key role of smart mobility in tomorrow's mobility
For the past decade, new technologies and communication methods have become increasingly important in our society. This was even more the case with the unprecedented health crisis of Covid-19, which resulted in an even greater boom in the use of digital tools.
All these innovations have opened up new opportunities to improve our daily lives. Mobility is no exception to the rule, the impact of digitalization on the latter is still in progress, all in order to further improve the daily life of all.
From now on, we no longer speak of transport or mobility, but of a transformation towards a so-called “smart” mobility. Since the 1990s, this Smart Mobility has been developing in various fields related to transportation, particularly in the Smart City. It improves the daily life of users by making urban traffic more fluid, allows for innovation, the creation of new structures and consequently creates new jobs.
But what is Smart Mobility in concrete terms ? How does it work ? What are its contributions to our society and to users ? Concrete examples of tools that reinvent tomorrow’s mobility. All these subjects are to be discovered in this article.
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What is Smart Mobility?
Smart mobility aims at a sustainable mobility that relies on digital tools to offer a better experience to its users with a reduced environmental impact.
It represents the crossroads between the digital and transport fields. Stemming from ICT (Information and Communication Technologies), smart mobility is more commonly referred to as ITS. (Intelligent Transport Systems) Nowadays, many digital tools are put in place to collect data in order to work on it to optimize people’s movements. These actions are possible thanks to its IOT solution able to communicate between each other.
Many acronyms and names can be confusing, so let’s give a simple definition of smart mobility. Let’s say that it offers to each user the opportunity to become the actor of his own mobility, he doesn’t have to suffer it anymore, he has different options, then it’s up to him to take the option that he considers the most relevant according to his needs.
3 key points for intelligent mobility:
- It leads to the creation of new and more efficient transportation systems while being more eco-responsible.
- By proposing different mobility alternatives, it allows users to model their own modal route in real time, providing them with all the necessary information to help them make decisions.
- It allows for the optimization of travel times and budgets, and reduces the carbon impact of travel by transmitting reliable and secure data to users.
To go further in our explanation of smart mobility, we need to dig deeper into the notion of ITS. What is ITS ? And how does it work ?
How does ITS work?
As mentioned earlier, mobility has become smart because the tools we use communicate with each other. That is, there is an exchange of information between the different intelligent transport systems. All the information transmitted comes from the data collected by the IOT systems.
But what is IOT ? IOT is an acronym for “Internet of things” and simply represents the bridge between a physical object and its digital footprint. It is one of the central principles of the development of the Smart City, nowadays more and more objects are connected to the Internet. This link allows to follow an object at a distance or to control it. Let’s take the example of the connected house, now thanks to mobile applications, we have the possibility to lower our blinds or to lock a door, etc…
About the smart mobility part, via our smartphone and an internet connection, we can geolocate at any time our movements. Moreover for the example of geolocation, the IOT will even couple the data collected with public data available in “Open data”. The IOT allows the transmission of collected data in real time to the servers with which the devices are connected.
The different technologies used in smart transport
Smart Mobility is based on several technologies such as information systems, telecommunications, surveillance cameras, sensors located on our roads, it is through these tools that our smartphones geolocate us. They allow us to locate ourselves, measure our speed of travel or our mode of transportation.
The meeting of these devices allows different uses such as the creation of connected equipment like speed cameras or dynamic display panels. The recording of data via the various cameras and sensors placed on the roads. And finally, the location of travelers and/or products through GPS data.
Before moving on to the different tools used by intelligent mobility, if you want to learn more, we have written an article on the impact of digital technology on mobility
Some tools used by intelligent mobility
Of course, the smartphone is one of the essential parts of smart mobility, and it is the first tool that comes to mind when we talk about connected mobility.
Why is this so? Because the smartphone allows different actions, first of all it allows you to consult in real time the traffic situation, the availability of different transport operators such as cabs or the arrival time of public transport. The most classic example is an accident or a slowdown on the road. In this case, many drivers refer to different geolocation applications such as Google Maps or Waze to optimize their route.
The smartphone represents the decision tool allowing the user to model his mobility as he wishes according to his preferences and needs.
We also find the dynamic road signs that inform and alert users about road works or accidents. Just like smartphones, these panels receive information flows and broadcast them in real time.
Smart intersections which, thanks to various sensors and cameras, can adapt the duration of red lights according to the presence of pedestrians and public transport.
Electronic toll systems facilitate the entry and exit of users on the road. How does it work ? All you need is a small device in your vehicle. Once in front of the tollbooth, the information transmitted by the device is picked up by a receiver that recognizes the information, which will automatically open the barrier so that the driver can continue on his way.
In the same niche as contactless electronic toll systems, other purchases of services around the vehicle are starting to become “contactless”, i.e. without contact from the mobile device. For example, you can now buy fuel at a gas station without even taking out your credit card, all you need is a mobile application Lepass to make your payment. You only need a mobile application to pay for your fuel. This gives you an overview of all your vehicle-related expenses and saves you time.
Last example, connected parking lots, once again thanks to the installation of sensors, dynamic display panels or even cameras. These different technologies allow users to be informed in real time of the number of spaces available in the parking lot. Then, another feature, the same principle as for the electronic tolls, some parking lots have a technology that allows users to enter and exit without contact, only through the use of a smartphone.
Improving the daily life of all
This is the main objective of Smart Mobility, and there are 3 main advantages in favor of its implementation in our daily lives
Smoothing out road traffic
Smart Mobility allows to reduce traffic congestion in cities. As an example, let’s take the exchange of information between the different traffic lights within a city, via this simple connection, the traffic will be smoother.
Improved user experience
Thanks to intelligent mobility, users have real-time information at any time and in any place. This gives them the opportunity to adapt their mobility according to events. In addition, from their point of departure, they can already plan the estimated travel time for their trip, regardless of the mode of transportation used.
Reducing the environmental impact of travel
Traffic fluidity also means reducing traffic congestion and consequently pollution. By offering alternative routes in case of unforeseen events on the road, for example, it avoids congestion of vehicles in traffic jams, which are events that cause major pollution peaks.
In addition, Smart Mobility gives users the opportunity to use different means of transportation according to their needs by allowing easily accessible alternatives to the individual vehicle. This is a concept that we want to promote at Ship&Co: Mobility as a Service. (MaaS) One of the main objectives of this multimodal approach is to promote the use of alternative modes of transportation such as public transport, train, carpooling or self-service bicycle.
Smart mobility is becoming more and more important in our societies thanks to the constant evolution of new technologies. In a very near future, we can expect the arrival of intelligent systems that will be more and more efficient and will allow to retranscribe and transmit information between different automatons.
This new mobility is taking place in parallel with the development of tomorrow’s smart cities, because it is of course necessary to adapt to the already existing infrastructures. Intelligent mobility therefore represents economic, social and environmental challenges, a crucial triptych for the evolution of our society. It is therefore important to optimize the use of existing networks by adapting them in order to guarantee a future of mobility that is increasingly pleasant economically for users and environmentally for our planet.