Imagine if a time traveler from 1918 landed in one of today’s largest cities. There would be much he or she would find startling—towering sky scrapers, airplanes and drones buzzing overhead…and people staring down into the tiny devices in their hands. One thing that would feel familiar: the city’s transport. Yes, there would be a lot more vehicles on the road, and accessibility might be patchy in some areas, but the roads, rail, and people- and goods-carriers would all look and feel similar.
That’s clearly not a good thing. In fact, given the essential enabling role transportation plays in a city’s sustained economic prosperity[i], it’s actually quite a bad thing. Cities that move their citizens efficiently, sustainably and in an integrated way will be the most successful in terms of productivity, liveability, and flexibility. That means using 21st century technology to become a 21st century city—in other words, a ‘smart city’.
Today, cities use technology across every aspect of operations to improve outcomes. Why should transport be any different? To help leaders and managers, Deloitte has developed the Deloitte City Mobility Index (DCMI). The index offers a new and better way for city officials to gauge the health of their mobility network and their readiness to embrace the rapid changes occurring in the way people and goods move about.
Our index is based on a forward-looking view of mobility—that is, a vision of what transport in a truly smart, livable, economically vibrant city could look like. The index is structured around the following key themes:
- Performance and resilience. Urban mobility should be efficient, congestion minimized, infrastructure maintained in good condition, and multiple modes of transit available and integrated.
- Vision and leadership. A city needs to be deliberate and proactive when addressing mobility needs and bring together a range of disparate interests and different strategies into a unified plan.
- Service and inclusion. Urban mobility should be available, affordable and accessible to all residents.
Taking into account this vision, a few factors figure large in the mobility index. We give a higher score to cities with a wider range of mobility options—from walking and biking to trains, car and buses. Simply put, the more variety, the better.
Similarly, digital readiness and the things that make a city ‘smart’ play a significant role in how a city is ranked. Thanks to the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and other technologies, a vast array of data can now be collected, analyzed, and used to improve transport outcomes for everyone. Whereas once transport providers needed questionnaires and surveys to identify people’s needs, they can now access real-time data—including from phones—to obtain a more detailed understanding, and for a greatly reduced cost.
Integration is key to a smoothly running, cohesive transport system. We score across both tangible and intangible aspects, which range from ease of use moving between various transport systems (e.g. rail, metro, bus and car pools), to how well various players—public/private, central/local, consumer/regulator—work with one another to achieve effective mobility.
How these factors play out and the appetite to get there is what determines the scores in our index. For example:
- London, Singapore, and Helsinki rank well due to their multi-modal transport systems and their willingness to develop and execute on innovative mobility solutions.
- By contrast, cities that are geographically dispersed—such as Los Angeles—score relatively poorly due to the over-reliance on a single mode—the car—and their limited ability to integrate other modes, such as active transport (walking and cycling) and mass transit.
- Cities with complex decision-making authorities—Paris and Washington, DC in our sample—have difficulties managing the disparate actors to identify and execute a cohesive vision for mobility. They also tend to have relatively lower scores.
But all is not lost for those that do not rank highly! The fast pace of technological change and the promise it holds can provide opportunities to improve. By using rapidly-evolving technologies to develop and deploy new and innovative solutions, today’s mobility laggards could quite possibly leapfrog to become leaders. Because it doesn’t necessarily mean more of the same.
Success in the new mobility ecosystem will not be measured in additional subways and roads, but in the connectivity between transit modes and the way people use them. City authorities may need to play a new role, as catalyst and strategist, incentivizing private sector participation and working with them to develop integrated strategies.
We expect that the changes realised in the next 10 years will vastly surpass those of the previous hundred.