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Government ‘needs a vision’ for smart mobility


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Government needs to sharpen its focus on how to support the development of technologies to improve mobility in the UK, according to IT industry association techUK.

It has published a briefing on the issue, Future Mobility Services in the UK, which looks at the technologies that can provide more flexible transport services but also identifies some of the barriers to progress in the field.

Three main recommendations emerge from the report, including that central government sets out a vision for the future characteristics of mobility services; and that local government demonstrates consideration of its role in facilitating future mobility services.

The other is the need for in-depth reviews of regulation and legislation from central government – with a warning that integration and implementation of new technologies and services will remain stagnant until the barriers are addressed.

These underlie its message that, while the technology industry is ready to develop new solutions, there are political barriers in the way around issues including data sharing and security, privacy, legislative and regulatory frameworks, commercial structures and connectivity.

Among the specific problems are that the emergence of connected autonomous vehicles is generating a big increase in data, some of it of a personal nature, which in turn is creating new risks around how it could be abused.

Commercial issue

There is also the issue that the commercial structures of the sector do not currently lend themselves to joined up transport services. There are examples in ticketing and timetabling not being set up to support end-to-end journeys.

In addition, the fact that only 54% of A and B roads have good 4G connectivity, and that there is poor coverage even in parts of major cities, is undermining efforts to develop better mobility.

Against these factors, technologies such as cloud computing, data analytics and artificial intelligence are opening up new possibilities for the sector. For example, AI could help to increase the use of shared rides, improve safety and reduce emissions.

But the development of these is fragmented and it needs a more coherent approach to meet the full potential.

Need for foundations

Julian David, chief executive officer of techUK, said: “It is impossible to predict exactly what our mobility services will look like in 10, 20 or 30 years. But that’s OK; we need a vision to start working towards today, to ensure that we have the foundations in place for the future.

“Failure to start working towards this vision and getting these building blocks in place would mean that the UK will miss out on a golden opportunity to fundamentally improve how we move people and goods around.

“UK PLC could also miss out on capturing a share of the global market which is already worth over £34 billion for shared mobility alone.”

Image from report cover, techUK

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