[Webinar Report] Smart Mobility: leveraging current innovations

[Webinar Report] Smart Mobility: leveraging current innovations
Chargé de coopération Egypte
CODATU News Wednesday 6 February 2019

The 6th Webinar of the Community of Practice for Sustainable Urban Transport organized by the CMI took place on September 5, 2018. This community of practice – led by CODATU – aims to promote the sharing of knowledge in the field of sustainable urban mobility in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa.

The webinar addressed the theme of Smart Mobility, to discuss some current issues and highlight what could be the “smart” in mobility! In particular, it emerged that before being only technical, the “smart” is mainly organizational and collective.

Listeners were able to connect remotely to attend online the conference of Julien de Labaca, consultant in new mobility and exchange with him.

Smart Mobility: what is happening now

Consumption of the multitude: the power of the duo « smartphone+geolocation »

A first glance shows diversification and plurality in the transport offer (from shared bike to autonomous cars…). But on close observation, it appears to be only the result of evolution, hibridization and the declination of existing offers. By relying on new digital technologies and more specifically the duo “smartphone+geolocation”, new services have been developed, such as Uber, BlaBlacar but also multimodal information platforms [1] taking full advantage of this diversity of offers. Nowadays, even the payment gets simplified: after the contactless card, the dematerialization generated by the smartphone, it is with the Open Payment (credit card as a transport ticket) that one can « consume » the transport offer. Today, the stake is the integration of these functions in a package that will allow dematerialization of both information, consumption and payment (we also speak of Mobility as a Service, MaaS [2]), which raises up the question of the data, but also standards, banking back-office devices [3] and payment standards.

The new giants of digital mobility and new strategies

In this renewed mobility landscape new emerging giants such as Uber or Didi are competing with large transport companies (also known as MOLTS, Multinational Operators for Local Transport Services) such as Keolis, Transdev, Arriva… These market entrants compete with the existing companies in terms of turnovers and importance in the stock markets, despite their recent establishment.

These giants are also adopting a new strategy based on digitalization and data: collecting, processing, and even creating data and platforms to share it. A recent example of this approach is the COORD platform. COORD collects and digitizes, through automatic systems, car parks, bike stands locations, transportation and even sidewalks, so that communities and local authorities can use it in the future.

How to take advantage of current innovations and apply them to a mobility policy

Three main elements can be taken into account when carrying out projects related to Smart Mobility:

The optimisation of existing infrastructures by developing new functions, such as dedicated lanes for carpooling or adapting stations for better integration of digital tools.

The optimisation of practices: carpooling, car sharing… concepts which could be extended to public transport involving new professions such as space designers, ergonomists, designers…

The understanding of the territorial/digital link and connecting the two through a collaboration of local actors and communities with developers and new players of digital mobility.

A philosophy of intervention: transport, a service among others

Thanks to digital integration, we can now « consume » the transport service like other administrative services or municipal utilities. For example, in Bretagne, a French region, the Korrigo pass provides access to different communal services in addition to transport. This system also highlights the need for technical standards that can be replicated in other locations.

User-Centered approach

The user must not get cut off from the reflection but must be positioned at the center. The importance of considering the transport service from the customer experience and point of view is today recognised by operators. Offering digital solutions may not be sufficient if these are not made more ergonomic, user-friendly and more accessible.

How to start…

How can we act in this new landscape of actors ? Several scenarios are possible (and complementary):

1. Working and collaborating with the tech giants who can commit important resources for significant actions. Some examples:

– With Waze to collect road use data (example of Versailles Municipality)

– With Facebook to create passenger information through chatbots [4] (example of Transport For London)

– With Uber to bring a « last mile » offer

For that, it is essential/necessary to specify requirements and conditions of the collaboration in order to put forward global and proven solutions for a local and specific application.

2. Launching without these actors and experimenting alternative solutions, filling the gaps of the GAFA [5]. Indeed, where the latter are relatively “distant” from the field, the local actors themselves, have a proximity to their territory and a more relevant experience of it. A few examples that illustrate this option:

Alternative transport offers such as Ride Austin in Austin (USA) that provides a non-profit rideshare service

Sharing resources such as Digital Transport 4 Africa, an open and collaborative platform that shares resources, data, but also tools and documentation to enable their exploitation by as many people as possible

Communities of people such as OpenStreetMap, platform whose wealth of content comes from its users. In the age of the internet, true wealth is no longer conquered by force or money. True wealth is the collective ability to create, develop and distribute value

MaaS platforms such as Whim, a start-up in Helsinki Company that develops its own platform by offering various types of subscription to use public transports, taxis and car-sharing without any recourse to the traditional GAFA platforms

[1] In the sense of smartphone application that allows access to different modes of urban transport (walking, cycling, car sharing, Uber, public transport …) on the same interface like Google Maps or Citymapper

[2] For more informations about MaaS: InOut 2018 on Digital Mobility: CODATU’s feedback!, March 2017

[3] Term that generally refers to the administrative functions that process transactions and execute transaction orders

[4] Computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet

[5] Acronym for the tech giants Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon


Partenaires associés

CMI – Center for Mediterranean Integration
Agence Française de Développement (AFD)

L’Agence Française de Développement (AFD) agit depuis soixante-dix ans pour lutter contre la pauvreté et favoriser le développement dans les pays du Sud et dans l’Outre-mer. Au moyen de subventions, de prêts, de fonds de garantie ou de contrats de désendettement et de développement, elle finance des projets, des programmes et des études et accompagne ses partenaires du Sud dans le renforcement de leurs capacités.

Les transports constituent un secteur d’intervention traditionnel de l’AFD. Sur la période 2001-2005, l’Agence a mobilisé environ 164 M€ par an en moyenne pour la mise en œuvre de projets dans le secteur des transports (en incluant les projets de développement rural et urbain comportant des activités de transport).

World Bank

banque mondiale (World Bank) est une source essentielle d’appui financier et technique pour les pays en développement du monde entier.