Mobility Revolution Missed Opportunity for Combating PandemicMon, 04/06/2020 - 14:58
The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently pointed out that the COVID-19 outbreak has thrown light on the inefficiencies and inequalities that affect transportation in urban areas. People’s accessibility to essential services like groceries and doctors vary widely among income groups and these differences impact on vulnerable populations’ ability to cope with health emergencies.
WEF explains that this is not a new issue. “Already in 2014, the UN released a study correlating 75 percent of infant mortality to systemic gaps in transportation infrastructure. In 2017, an AARP study showed that social isolation costs Medicare a budget comparable to chronic conditions like arthritis and high blood pressure.” Moreover, Deloitte’s Urban Mobility Index indicates that Mexico City faces challenges such as insufficient public transportation in suburban areas and inadequate pedestrian infrastructure. Given the current trends of urban growth and concentration, transport conditions in the nation’s capital are set to worsen. Nevertheless, the current health crisis makes it impossible to ignore that the progress made by the Mobility Revolution has been largely wasted, as resources have not been sufficiently spent on vulnerable populations.
As defined by Neckermann Strategic Advisors, the Mobility Revolution “is a summary of the ‘three zeroes’ that are defining the future for the automobile industry: Zero Emissions, Zero Accidents and Zero Ownership.” Neckermann goes on to say that “electric, autonomous and shared vehicles are transforming the way we live, work and move about in our increasingly urban environment. The magnitude of the change is as significant as Gottlieb Daimler and Henry Ford’s transformation of our cities 130 years ago, when cars replaced horses.”
In order to bring the benefits of the mobility revolution to vulnerable groups, data is key. As Federico Ranero, General Manager of Uber Mexico, said to Mexico Business News, “mobility is a complicated challenge that demands collaboration from the public and private sectors. Opening our data on general traffic flows to the public through tools such as Uber Movement can help cities ensure any investment made has the biggest return.” Indeed, fostering a robust data ecosystem is a fundamental first step. To this point, the Open Mobility Foundation recommends “using open-source code and APIs to promote the formation of an ecosystem of private companies and public agencies who come together to build open-source code and APIs that can be used as the basis for products that manage and use the public right-of-way.”