Future mobility, made possible

Future mobility, made possible

Author: John Batten – Global Cities Director, Arcadis

John Batten

By 2050, more than two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities, and this rapid rise in urbanisation will dramatically reshape how we live our lives. From climate change to mobility, the impact of population growth means we will need to rethink many of the ways in which we, as citizens, interact with our environment, says John Batten, Global Cities Director at Arcadis

Cities everywhere are grappling with congestion, overcrowding, poor air quality and the need to drive greater prosperity and competitiveness. Our experience of a city often comes down to how easy it is to move around, yet with transport contributing to 20% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions and 7 million people dying from air pollution every year, the challenges are clear.

Is there a solution?

Seamless, Connected and Sustainable Mobility

The answer to a seamless transport experience lies in the smart application of technology. New innovations and low carbon solutions that can be integrated with and complement the existing transport network offer the best opportunity for progress. However, this can only be effective if the needs of the citizen are put at the heart of future transport plans.

Numerous emerging trends will have an impact. From Artificial Intelligence and drone technology disrupting first and last mile delivery, to the reduction in car ownership and the rise of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) and Mobility as a Service (Maas), success ultimately depends on how a city aligns its vision with the citizen experience.

Postcards from around the world

We are already seeing some exciting interventions happening in cities all around the world.

We are working with the city of Amsterdam to design and procure a MaaS solution for their Zuidas business district. A MaaS service makes it easier for people to plan, book, pay for and access a range of different transport modes with a single App. Our work included business engagement to achieve agreement from 15 of the largest employers in the region to combine their ‘buying power’ for the MaaS solution; creating a demonstration service (an “experiment”) to challenge employees to give up their car for a month to experience MaaS, generate early adopter advocates and to capture essential user feedback to input to the procurement approach; and consultancy support for the MaaS procurement.

As people start making smarter choices about how they move, we hope to see a reduction in the pressure on the crowded road network in Amsterdam’s business district, improving air quality, and helping citizens to be happier, healthier and more connected.

New York is also a city feeling the strain of population growth and an overburdened transport network. With people living in increasingly close proximity, buildings often don’t have the space to store or recycle waste. The result is that, in one day alone, up to 34 waste trucks are traversing four boroughs to service businesses in a neighbourhood where the infrastructure is already straining under the weight of demand.

In response, we used our digital knowledge to develop a waste collection strategy that made better use of existing resources. Based on a simulation model, we found that a zoned approach would reduce truck traffic by a staggering 18 million miles a day. A simple approach, with a significant outcome.

Putting future mobility into practice

There are some huge opportunities for UK cities to benefit. Turning our attention closer to home, Cardiff’s new electric vehicle strategy demonstrates how an ambitious city is upping its mobility game.

Government policy dictates that all new cars and vans will need to be Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV) by 2040, yet Cardiff has significantly fewer charge points compared to other core cities. The council needed to develop an Electric Vehicle (EV) charging network across the while city, leading by example by cleaning up its own fleet. This is a large, wholescale change that can only be achieved through collaboration with key partners, ensuring the EV agenda sits alongside a much wider sustainable transport strategy.

The step-by-step guide we used to help Cardiff Council offers a blueprint that can help any city review its future mobility strategy.

A 6-Step Guide

1. Using the City’s vision as a starting point, define detailed objectives.

2. Review the current market.

3. Develop an appropriate stakeholder engagement strategy. Who needs to be part of the decision-making process?

4. Establish business and operating models that will work long-term.

5. Enable rollout. Is the plan seamless, does it meet required standards, and does it provide the best user experience?

6. Manage & maintain. Reliability is key to user confidence.

With just a few practical measures, future mobility – designed around the needs of the citizen – can become a reality.

John Batten is Global Cities Director at Arcadis. He is speaking on the Burges Salmon stage at Highways UK offering further observations on Big thinking from big cities, radical ideas on mobility from around the world. His colleague Tom Morgan is also presenting on Cardiff’s EV transition with Andrew Gregory, Director of Environment, Planning and Transport at Cardiff City Council, in the main theatre.


What does the Big Data revolution mean for the future of highways?

What does the Big Data revolution mean for the future of highways?

Volume, velocity, variety, variability, veracity… These words can only be describing one thing – the dimensions of Big Data. The prospect of using Big Data is intriguing and innovative as it offers previously unimaginable advantages in comparison to traditional data sources. Like the Internet, Big Data is another game changer that will revolutionise the way businesses and society operates. Continuous advances in Big Data architecture and technology have increased the potential for businesses and governments to analyse their data, and to use actionable insight to make informed decisions.

Big Data is being used by public agencies and consultancies to answer numerous transportation questions. In addition to estimating origins, destinations and routing patterns, such as where vehicles join and exit roads, the high degree of spatial and temporal accuracy of some data sources makes it possible to precisely pinpoint the location of vehicles. As such, real-time data can be used for incident detection, queue monitoring, congestion alerts, routeing, and planning and performance measurement.

Off-the-shelf and custom products for Big Data offer excellent tools to compare traffic patterns and conditions on roads or geographical areas for road planning and analysis of improvement schemes. Different data sources can also be combined providing invaluable information for transport planners, for example, the ability to assess the level of risk posed by the incursion of HGVs into cycle routes.

Securely stored and correctly understood, Big Data is a treasure trove that can improve day-to-day customer experience and business needs. But with such an enormous amount of data pouring into organisations, the question arises of how to present Big Data in a way that decision makers can understand. Although the promises and possibilities of Big Data are evident, the challenge is extracting the right information, for a reasonable cost and in an appropriate timescale.

As good as it seems, can Big Data succeed as a wholesale replacement of traditional methods in transport planning and operation? Our current challenge is to integrate Big Data analysis into traditional systems in real time, for example to set and adjust thresholds and tolerances to reflect behaviour. In the future we need to see how we can better use Big Data in a cost-efficient manner to prime and monitor operational systems with significant learning capability for operating and managing our transport networks. This will help the systems become far more agile and responsive to changing conditions and be much better at optimising the results.

A lot of work still needs to be done to realise the potential of Big Data; there is no one-size fits all approach to its application and use. Careful consideration needs to be given to which data-sets can be used and how to derive the information sought.

This blog is co-authored by Arcadis’ Olga Feldman and David Threlfall. Olga is the consultant’s big data and land use analytics director, David is its innovative highways technology director. The pair will be expanding on these ideas in an industry briefing session on 16 November, part of the extensive free-to-attend fringe programme at this year’s Highways UK


Olga Feldman and David Threlfall

Olga Feldman and David Threlfall – Directors of Big Data, land use analytics and innovative highways technologies, Arcadis