It's no secret that our cities are in the midst of a deep-reaching digital and information revolution – and it is affecting how we move around. Everything in our cities is becoming smart, wireless and connected. CBDs and suburbs bristle with technology that captures data and shares it, allowing us to generate key insights and improve efficiencies. From city-wide sensors measuring traffic through to EV infrastructure, change is here. In short, we are living through the period of greatest social and cultural upheaval since the industrial revolution – and it's happening at lightning speed. So, what's next for smart cities and transport?
It's important to stay abreast of the changes and trends that your city may be facing. With great change comes great possibility – and a new set of challenges to answer with clever city planning. Today we will be examining 5 smart city transport trends that we predict will dominate 2019 in New Zealand cities.
1. More competitive ride-share options
UBER has long been the king when it comes to ride-sharing services, but its days of dominance in New Zealand may be coming to an end. As more rideshare options gain footholds in the marketplace – including the locally run Zoomy – consumers ultimately win.
From our position, we can see everything from taxis masquerading as ridesharing, thanks to UBER-like apps, through to female-only ride-sharing services, premised on creating safe spaces in transport for women as beneficial. It is ultimately about giving customers options.
However, uncertainty still exists around the relationship between rideshare and more traditional public infrastructure. It is unclear whether rideshare will be a competitor or a complimentary service – and ultimately, it is the riders who will decide. We see particular merit in last leg transfers as a place for ridesharing to thrive, particularly as we see a push for fewer cars in New Zealand’s inner-city spaces.
2. Self-driving car trials
Self-driving technology has been hailed as the next big thing, year-after-year. However, the reality is a little bit more complex. The technology needed for cars to safely self-drive has arrived, and trials have been running in other countries… But where does New Zealand stand?
With Ridesharing giant UBER testing ridesharing on public roads in California, and tech giant Google making waves with its mature self-driving technology, we think it is time for NZ cities to seriously consider self-driving cars. As our motorways and inner cities continue to be congested, self-driving cars could provide a crucial relief, both in terms of pedestrian safety, but also congestion when paired with ridesharing.
3. DRT - Demand-Responsive Transit
On-demand public transport could make our system more efficient and cheaper. On paper, DRT is similar to rideshare, where people request transport only when they need it. So how could DRT work to make public transport more efficient?
Conventional public transport is incredible at moving a large volume of people along transport corridors. Think of the western train line in Auckland, or the Hutt Valley line in Wellington. However, public transport options falter in its ability to provide adequate transport options in low density or out-of-the-way places.
On-demand transport could rectify some of these issues. Riders could place requests 30 – 60 minutes before departure through a phone app that groups nearby riders together and schedules transportation for them. Riders may have to walk to a convenient nearby pickup location. Companies like Via are already experimenting with this form of ride-sharing. You can read more information about on-demand transportation here.
4. More apps, more options
Smartphone apps mean more options. The large-scale collection of open, real-time data linked through API to a wide range of transit applications, creates greatly increased efficiencies.
In our eyes, there is no such thing as too much data. The integration of our collected data – from point-to-point tracking of buses and trains, through to cars communicating with each other – has rich potential. When we pass the data onto the traveller, via their preferred app (whether that is Google Maps or a transit app like Auckland Transport Mobile), we empower their journeys.
Applications enriched with this data mean options for the traveller.
5. The rise of the eScooter
The eScooter is here to stay. After being used extensively in cities like San Francisco, they have finally arrived in New Zealand cities. Understandably, they have created divides in our community. Many find them a fun, affordable way to travel from A to B, especially for short trips. Others focus on the dangers they pose – to both pedestrians and riders.
The scooters now crowd our sidewalks – and the experience is a little like Pandora’s box. Now that they are out, it is going to be very hard to get rid of them. Nor should councils focus their efforts on creating bans and exclusions. Instead, we urge councils to figure out how to better accommodate them around the city spaces. There are simple reasons for this: they aid with congestion, make cities centres more liveable, and ultimately are in-demand with commuters.
Ways for councils to empower and work with eScooter users include having dedicated parking spaces and campaigns that encourage safe riding and fair use. Councils also need to think about how eScooters can safely move through towns – including slow zones, or specific eScooter lanes. Ultimately, expect eScooters to launch in more cities around NZ in 2019.
When it comes to transport information, talk to Radiola
At Radiola we are experts when it comes to collecting and distributing real-time information for transport systems. Our products include cutting-edge real-time information packages, that enable access to real-time location data, and eStops that can communicate real-time information to commuters.