Smart mobility and cities are, justifiably, a hot trend in recent years. They offer a plethora of modern ideals which most citizens the world over would be excited to use or to be a part of. These span into all areas of the city and culminate many factors to improve quality of life: for example, making public transport quicker and cheaper, easier use of systems and information thanks to better integration, and reducing pollution and emissions in urban areas.
But, these kinds of developments are tricky. They require years of planning, policy, funding and implementation on a city-wide scale, just to highlight a couple of main challenges. Furthermore, they require the collaboration of many different individuals consistently over time. In this sense smart cities do not simply become “smart” one day, rather they slowly begin a process that leads them towards their future ideals.
Because this process can be so multifaceted it is no wonder that smart mobility and city projects themselves often struggle to take off, or to maintain enough development. The city of Jaipur for example has recently been criticised for its failure to implement any of its 10 smart mobility projects which were agreed upon in 2016. The projects are tailored for the unique city itself, featuring objectives such as e-rickshaw stands and intelligent parking at popular locations.
The city of Bangalore similarly has faced issues with smart mobility projects that have been implemented over the past decade. Local government, as well as leading smart mobility innovators, explain that it is the delay in embracing technology which is undermining the development of the city. The Intelligent transport system (ITS) was undermined by GPS-enabled systems such as mobile devices which are comparatively cheaper and allow for more diverse information.
The inability of projects, policies and collaborations to keep up with technological development is a key problem for smart cities and mobility. In lesser developed areas this is often exacerbated by country-wide concerns which naturally take precedence for funding and development. Demographics, economics and unique aspects of countries, too, mean that the “digital divide” is still apparent – and has the power the shape technological uptake. The digital divide will continue to exist where there is development. After all, the world cannot progress uniformly and there will always be innovations of technology and its uses. The real question then is how do we ensure smart mobility projects can be completed effectively, and can be kept sustainable?