A growing percentage of the world’s population live in cities. According to the United Nations (UN), this totaled 55% in 2020 and is predicted to rise to 68% by 2050.
While urbanization is a major generator of economic value, it also poses a range of challenges for urban mobility. The megacities of the future do not exist yet; they are in growing regions where there is no culture of mobility or sustainability in urban planification.
Future-oriented planning must ensure efficient, safe and cost-effective transport of a growing population across evolving, complex urban ecosystems — while mitigating environmental impact.
Traditionally, only transport and mobility operators have been considered relevant players in urban transformation and mobility issues. Citizens, vehicle manufacturers and other stakeholders are often excluded, and so the opportunity to create mutually beneficial solutions is missed.
At NTT DATA, we believe successful urban transformation places the citizen at the heart of a collaborative, integrated ecosystem that includes all existing players and new stakeholders. We view digitization as the core enabler of urban transformation in three key areas:
Building smarter urban mobility hubs
Cities rely on transport nodes such as airports and train stations to function smoothly. Using disruptive technologies such as 5G, digital twins and artificial intelligence, we can transform these nodes into customer-centric ‘urban mobility hubs’ that provide a more holistic approach to transport management. These technologies boost the user and operator experience by providing real-time information on transportation, optimizing routes and facilitating payment.
By rethinking the layout of transportation infrastructure, incorporating mixed-use spaces and creating pedestrian-friendly environments, hubs become more appealing. This must be supported by thoughtful planning around accessibility and affordability for a diverse population.Data privacy is also a priority. Integrating smart technology into urban mobility hubs requires a network of interconnected devices and systems, so smart infrastructure must be resilient to protect citizens’ data security. NTT DATA, together with some of the most important urban transformation projects of global relevance, is developing different initiatives to highlight this transformation.
For example, our work with Madrid Nuevo Norte is a major transformation project that will improve the overall experience of users, by promoting accessibility and more fluid mobility within the Madrid urban environment. We are putting a PoC in place, together with the railway infrastructure manager, owner of Chamartin Station (ADIF), to test the scope and application of Digital Twin technology to monitor the occupancy of railway stations. This information will allow security protocols to be adjusted, guaranteeing dynamic management of passenger density in rest areas, commercial areas, access areas and on platforms.
Mobility as a Service (MaaS)
Urban travel can be confusing and uncomfortable for travelers who may need to interact with several platforms and services. Mobility as a Service (MaaS) integrates digital technologies under a central service platform to streamline the journey.
Working with the World Economic Forum, NTT DATA has proposed a new vision for a mobility-as-a-service platform. One that removes friction and enables consumers to plan, book and pay for any mobility service in one app, both from private and public mobility providers.
MaaS platforms should enable users to tailor their transportation choices based on personal preferences, time constraints, and budget considerations. This personalized approach enhances the overall user experience and encourages the use of diverse transportation options.
MaaS can also help drive more environmentally friendly modes of transportation, such as electric vehicles and shared mobility options. This promotes greater sustainability and aligns with the broader goals of urban transformation to create greener and healthier cities which will ultimately benefit consumers.
Taking to the skies
Urban Air Mobility (UAM) has emerged as a promising solution to the growing challenges of urban transportation, which include heavy congestion and pollution. On-demand air transportation could offer an efficient, connected and sustainable alternative to road vehicles.
Though this technology is in its relative infancy, the vision is clear: cost-effective and eco-friendly air transport that is accessible to regular citizens and local businesses for passenger and delivery cargo. This would allow more time-efficient transportation of individuals and goods, having a positive effect on work-life balance and general well-being.
UAM also promises to enhance connectivity between communities and the broader urban transportation network, especially those underserved by traditional infrastructure. In turn, at scale, this could promote positive social and economic change through improved accessibility and job creation.
For example, NTT DATA’s Syntphony Drone Activity Management is an all-in-one solution that allows for a seamless interaction between drones and infrastructure. It ensures a significant reduction in delivery times, costs, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Towards smarter cities
At their heart, cities are predicated on the benefit of proximity: bringing people closer to economic opportunities and convenience. By deploying purpose-fit, data-driven digital solutions and fostering public-private collaboration, we can equip cities of the future to deliver this essential promise to their citizens — while reducing carbon emissions and improving quality of life.