In today’s on-demand society, the concept of ownership is being transformed, says Russell Goodenough, client managing director of Transport at Fujitsu. He explains the profound impacts this will have on humans’ mobility.
We no longer own products, we consume services – whether that be music through Spotify at home, or a cloud-based productivity tool at work. Key technologies serve as the platform for this enormous change, including cloud, smartphones and high-speed connectivity.
This model is now spilling into other sectors too and seeing disruption and evolution; the future of transport is Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS).
The changing transport industry
Car ownership is a long-standing tradition, representing a symbol of freedom for the young or – for those of us who are no longer boy/girl racers – a sign of prestige. And the automotive industry remains relatively solid – at least for now. For example, the total number of vehicles licensed for use on the road sat at just over 37.7 million at the beginning of this year in the UK. To put that into perspective, there is more than one road-worthy vehicle for every two people in the UK.
But where is the industry heading? Fuelled by the mass of new mobility service providers such as ride-sharing and e-hailing services– such as Uber and MyTaxi – as well as increasingly demand-responsive ‘pop-up’ bus services, the future of transport will increasingly shift towards on-demand.
What’s more,it is motivated by the expected wide availability of self-driving cars. The current thinking is that instead of buying a car, the future will see consumers use their smartphone to tap into one of a shared fleet of cars parked on our streets.
Instead of driving our own vehicle, autonomous self-driving vehicles will collect us and take us where we need to be. This is the future – convenient, fast, environmentally efficient and completely on-demand.
Disruption in the transport industry will not only come from building new roads, railways or runways, nor will transformation be confined to new vehicles. Instead, it will come from a paradigm shift in the way transport providers engage and interact with their customers,and in parallel,how they set up and organise their internal processes to not only be more efficient.
This is about creating a travel experience that is fit for the digital era. Mobility is the key – both in a literal and a technological sense. It is the absorption of digital technologies into one seamless system to underpin the demand we all share –for a truly joined-up travel experience.
MaaS has the potential to completely transform the lives of the public. No matter their income, lifestyle or location, they will have fast, efficient, affordable travel – available exactly when they need it.
What’s more, this technology will also benefit the country itself – reducing city congestion as more users adopt MaaS, and reduce emissions as more users rely on public transit components or electric, autonomous vehicles in a MaaS network.
MaaS will become increasingly commonplace and popular, which means there is a clear opportunity for those in the transport sector to lead from the front.
A shared responsibility
An important factor in making MaaS a success will be getting all of the players to work together. An unprecedented range of stakeholders – from city authorities to central government, from technology companies to infrastructure construction, and from transport operators to vehicle manufacturers –need to work together today in order to set the country up for ‘on-demand’ tomorrow.
Fortunately, the technology is already there to make on-demand vehicles a reality tomorrow – and thanks to the impressive efforts of the automotive industry, driverless vehicles are not far behind.
It is not a luxury – as we build smart cities or at least built smart technology into city infrastructure, we must do so with MaaS front-of-mind. After all, it is the future the public demand.
The author of this blog is Russell Goodenough, client managing director of Transport at Fujitsu