Self-driving cars are just the start. Here’s how the mobility revolution plays out

February 26, 2017

    In our continued effort to keep you up-to-date with projects, stories and trends from across the transport sector, this month we bring you an abridged version of Moovit CEO Nir Erez’s observations on the mobility stack.

    Little has changed in the urban mobility experience for the past century, except perhaps that today more commuters than ever feel the burden of overcrowding. Erez believes a fast-approaching revolution in the next 20 years will change much of what we know about urban mobility. He states, “The inefficiencies of congestion, pollution and parking will be conquered by such tech innovators as Google, Tesla, Uber and my company, Moovit. These companies and others are revolutionizing urban mobility in ways unimaginable only a few years ago.” Erez helps us visualize these changes by way of the Moovit Urban Mobility Stack, essentially a simple technology stack, with changes mostly occurring at the top layers, but not the lower levels.


    The mobility world according to Erez

    The base is the physical infrastructure layer – metropolitan areas’ roads, bridges, train stations, subways, bus stops and parking. In older cities, the infrastructure layer has not changed in decades. Compare a map of the New York subway in 1948 to today’s and you will see little difference. Note that this physical layer will adapt at the slowest pace; with changes such as support express lanes and stopless junctions eventually happening. This will enable smooth interfaces between personal and mass transit modes.

    Next is the rules layer. This includes bus schedules, speed limits, licenses, permits and prices. This layer also has been static for around 50 years, but this will change. The rules layer will become dynamic. Gone will be the days of picking up a driver’s education handbook at the DMV. Instead, Nir believes that “…an operating system (OS) will connect all vehicles, riders and infrastructure. This OS will determine which vehicles get to move in what spaces at what speed and for what price, who gets priority at junctions, who gets to pick up and drop off in exactly the right place. Roads will be priced and vehicles will be routed to prioritize higher density and lower emissions at particular times.”

    The third layer is the vehicles that move people. Notwithstanding a host of improvements, vehicles today remain essentially unchanged since their creation. Cars will become connected, electric, driverless, and ultimately gain new form factors. We have already seen some of this work beginning with companies like Google, Tesla and Uber publically testing new technologies daily on the roads of San Francisco and other cities. When this aspect of the urban mobility revolution is fully realized, people will consider mobility as a service and not just a ride in a personal car, taxi or public transit.

    At the top layer of the urban mobility stack is the rider interface — this is how we interact with, and consume mobility. Here, the revolution is most apparent. In the past five years hundreds of millions of people have been using ride sharing apps on their smartphones, planned commute routes via GPS, and enabled more accurate data collection via crowdsourcing. Changes here will soon move deeper into the stack and unlock true value for communities and consumers alike. These enormous changes to the urban mobility stack will be further realized by Big Data. Erez adds, “Just like the 10-year-old kid with a smartphone has more information today than world leaders had a decade ago, cities and municipalities will access data in quantities never before imagined.” Today, sensor and smartphone-based systems provide accurate and real-time data that can inform all aspects of urban mobility planning and management. It is just a matter of time before municipalities integrate these systems as part of smart city plans world over.

    Thanks to the 50 million+ users of the free Moovit app and our extraordinary Mooviter Community, we gather billions of data points each week and it is “This treasure trove of urban mobility data that will ultimately underpin the next generation of mobility as a service.” This big data gathering, measurement and analysis will help the world’s municipalities in ways that were previously unimagined even just five years ago. This is a fast-moving train that just by contributing their local knowledge, 150,000 Mooviters have already understood and boarded so a massive thank you to them!

    The mobility revolution is nigh. Be part of this revolution by joining the Mooviter Community here. If you’re already part of the Mooviter Community, please share this newsletter with your friends and family and inspire them to get involved in their local community.

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