Mobility has always been a gateway for development of our society but it has also brought some other impact to the environment that, over time, may have worryingly contributed to the greenhouse effect.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the appearance of the internal combustion engine followed by the global passenger car changed the landscape forever. The car was a symbol and evidence of prosperity, but it caused great impacts on people: traffic congestion, increased accident rate and a significant pollution. The car has meant, since its invention, a success story but everything indicates that a paradigm shift is around the corner.
Currently, the use of the different transport modes in the cities are responsible for 40% of the urban emissions. More than half of the World’s urban population was exposed last year to pollution levels at least 2.5 times higher than the ones considered as healthy standards. It is estimated that air pollution already causes up to 7 million deaths a year. According to the WHO, one-fourth of all estimated global deaths are linked to the environment.
This problem is exacerbated by the high population growth, especially in large cities. The World’s cities occupy only 3% of the land but produce 75% of the total carbon emissions.
The ever-increasing population in the cities of the future will need to meet the demand for transport and social infrastructure of a higher complexity and in accordance with the 17 Objectives for Sustainable Development of the United Nations (UN). Additional investment is required in order to build either basic or complex infrastructures that shall ensure economic development and social welfare, with special emphasis on affordable, sustainable and equitable access for all.
One of the main challenges that we shall face as a society in some already collapsed cities, is solving and approaching the urban mobility in a different manner to confront the traffic congestion and high levels of air pollution.
If we come to think of it, the arrival of new technologies at the start of the 21st century has some similarities with the start of the 20th century with the appearance of the automobile.
The urban mobility sector of this century may have the new tools for another paradigm shift.
This ‘perfect storm’ originates in two main circumstances that have come together: first, the confluence of new technologies that act as a catalyst for the emergence of new business models around mobility and, second, the cultural change that is happening that produces very quickly behavioral changes in the citizens:
- Appearance of the electric vehicle, which is becoming cheaper with decreasing costs of the batteries.
- Big Data, data analytics tools, machine learning and artificial intelligence are essential to achieve the efficiency that new urban transport models need and that make economic sense.
- Autonomous vehicle technology: It still has many challenges ahead, not only of the vehicle technology itself, but also of the deployment of the necessary communication infrastructure in the cities and of the regulation itself. We shall see this happening sooner than later.
- Implementation of the 5G technology will dramatically improve connectivity and shall enable the Internet of Things (IoT).
- The priorities have changed. The new normal is a permanently connected society used to depend on software and applications for the needs in their everyday life. The trend in the population is not so much to demand their own assets, but to enjoy and share them. We see a large business growth around the collaborative economy. Everywhere.
- The general public has greater environmental awareness and the governments and authorities have more commitment and receptiveness to new sustainable solutions.
All these new technologies coupled with the changes in the people’s behaviour have triggered, in my opinion, the appearance of new business models. There are more sophisticated urban mobility technologies, a large selection of food delivery and many options as far as sharing different transportation modes, where ACCIONA is already an actor with our flourishing Moto-sharing service.
All players that make up the mobility sector are learning on the go. Solutions to citizen mobility concerns are generated at a faster rate than regulatory capacity, but there is no single formula for addressing this business model.
Governments should encourage collaboration between cities that have similar problems and should rely on the knowledge and experience that the private sector can bring.
Urban mobility is one of the main problems of large cities, and factoring the urgency in combating the climate change, allowing the de-carbonisation of the economy and encouraging the use of the new technologies will certainly improve the quality of life for the citizens.
In ACCIONA, we are focused in offering solutions to these problems through the provision of innovative and sustainable mobility services. This is at the core of all our businesses. We heavily invest in de-carbonisation through the generation of 100% renewable energy and the construction and management of different solutions in infrastructure and services that mitigate the effects of climate urgency.
Our company has recently launched the Moto-sharing service as part of our sustainable electric shared mobility strategy.
In line with ACCIONA’s commitment to de-carbonization, our scooter sharing service uses the “ACCIONA Movilidad” app to provide information about the CO2 emissions avoided by using a shared scooter instead of a conventional private vehicle. More than 7,000 units are already deployed in different European cities in Spain such as Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Valencia and Zaragoza but also in Italy (Milan) and Portugal (Lisbon).
Given the present situation all over the world due to the spread of the Covid-19, and as part of the ACCIONA’s commitment to the society, we have made available one million disposable hairnets to hospitals, care centers and residences throughout Spain. These are the nets usually used with the helmet within our Moto-sharing services.
At ACCIONA, we are devoted to joining the challenges associated to the urban mobility by creating sustainable solutions that respond to the needs of the citizens and that equally invest in the future of our planet.