The Future is (nearly) here; Transport Innovations creating profitable opportunities for developers in Smart Cities

‘Smart’ or ‘Future Cities’, depending on who you’re talking too, represent the logical next step to extracting efficiencies from our urban spaces. By 2050, two thirds of the global population (6.3bn people) are projected to live in urban areas. Smart Cities are not only environmentally desirable, they are economically essential.

Today The UN Global Commission on Climate and Economy concluded that if national governments backed these efforts, savings on transport, buildings and waste disposal could reach up to $22tn by 2050. By 2030 those efforts would have avoided the equivalent of 3.7 gigatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, more than India currently produces in one year.

It’s not about living like the Jetsons and whizzing around in flying pods, Smart Cities take the best of what is emerging in the fields of energy efficiency, design and transport. By applying these within an urban environment we can help our cities accommodate the growth and increases in demand more sustainably.

‘So where does transport fit in to all of this and how can it help development’? Well, urban housing densities will increase. In order to accommodate the extra demand for space and reduce inefficiencies (read increase return on investments), transport planners and futurologists are creating ways that enable cities to grow without the associated traffic congestion, delay and demand for road space.

To give just a few examples we are now developing more inclusive and greener public transport systems and intelligent ticketing solutions. Electric vehicles are becoming more prevalent on our highways and hydrogen fuel cells are emerging too. Electric buses with inductive charging that are powered when they stop to collect people are undergoing live trials. Cars are increasingly seen as unnecessary and poorly utilised assets and car clubs are expanding in size and scope.

Autonomous vehicles are gathering momentum and headlines in the UK and abroad whilst Curtins are currently involved in pioneering live applications to introduce these vehicles into shared spaces with pedestrians, cyclists, cars and buses. Indeed it is the emergence of these autonomous vehicles that stands to make the biggest transport contribution to our vision for Smart Cities. They will be able to park themselves in discrete locations and become available to the user when required. Who will need ownership when membership would suffice?

In simple terms within the high density urban environment, privately owned motor vehicles, whilst essential for some, are costly, unnecessary and take up a disproportionate amount of space when you consider their utilisation rates. Crudely put fewer cars equals more space for developable, profitable purposes.

To achieve this sustainable and more cost effective alternative, new transport options need to be introduced and Curtins are currently involved in delivering a wide range of these across the country. Smart Cities will be profitable cities for developers, but in order to realise these benefits they need to support new solutions to old problems.