Moving the economy

Moving the economy

By Susan Zielinski

Opportunities for India in the emerging global new mobility industry

 “At its most basic level, a new mobility grid is simply a network of places across a community where transportation modes and services physically connect.”

 “The opportunities exist on many fronts be it mobility solutions for urban poor (whose volumes are massive) or IT solutions for the mobility platforms (GIS/ GPS for tracking MRTS system) to having an IT blueprint of a city.”

A multitude of new services, products, technologies, and infrastructures has been bubbling up over the past decade or so to supply the next generation of transportation for an increasingly complex and urbanizing world.

This evolution is highly diversified; information technology (IT)-driven; and service-oriented, creating unique business opportunities (both for local application and export) in sectors as wide ranging as telecommunications, manufacturing, energy, utilities, service and retail, tourism, real estate, logistics, urban design, infrastructure and more. This emerging “new mobility market” is already generating new meta-opportunities to provide seamless door-to-door transportation systems for moving people, moving goods, and moving less, customized to just about any region or community.

On first glance it may appear that India, with its growing and increasingly congested cities, sits on the demand side — not the solution or supply side – of the new mobility continuum. But on closer examination the situation may be quite the opposite. India may well be endowed with key elements of a robust new mobility industry cluster – both in the big business and the entrepreneurial space, and poised to accelerate the array of opportunities.

Building on early global new mobility cluster work by Moving the Economy in 2002, and in the context of a Rockefeller Foundation-supported project by SMART at the University of Michigan, Dr. Amit Kapoor and Dr. Sankalp Sharma have recently explored emerging opportunities for India to play a key role new mobility industry cluster leadership.

This brief offers a status update on the rapidly evolving global new mobility industry, related new business models (big and small), public-private innovation and new integration models, and new narratives and policy architectures around the future of transportation and the economy that supplies it. It then shifts the focus to innovation and leadership opportunities for Indian industry and enterprise. 

What does New Mobility Look Like? New Integration Models and Public-Private Innovation

Imagine a day when from steps of your door, or even from inside your home or office, you could enter a vital network or grid of new mobility points, places that connect any of a range of transport amenities including buses, trains, streetcars, clean fuel taxis, auto rickshaws and car share or bike share vehicles, and in some cases, day care, satellite offices, cafes, shops and entertainment. At its most basic level, a new mobility grid is simply a network of places across a community where transportation modes and services physically connect.

At the next level up, this is all brought together and enhanced by a telecommunications framework that offers real-time information on arrival and departure times and availability (either through kiosks at hubs or through mobile phones), as well as access to other information. The telecommunications framework also allows you to quickly and easily pay for these affordable modes and services with a single click or a wave past the reader through a mobile phone or a card or a kiosk. This way you can transfer seamlessly from one mode of transportation to the other, informed of schedules and options as you go, using the best mode for the purpose, gaining access to car share at one hub, and dropping it off at another to pick up a waiting bus or train.

In practice, it’s much like a customized communications portfolio, in which laptop or tablet connects to desktop, camera, TV, printer, search engine, and more, all talking to each other seamlessly regardless of brand. It doesn’t mean abandoning your desktop computer—it just means merging it with a more diverse and connected portfolio, allowing you to choose the best option for each task.

For the user, it’s easy, convenient, affordable and accessible. For government leaders, this begins to address social, environmental, and economic goals, fostering livability, social equity, green industry and green jobs. See “Connecting and Transforming the Future of Transportation” :

What New Business Models Will Support the Transformation?

Some of the greatest benefits of the burgeoning New Mobility will be economic.  For example, established players have already begun to mine the opportunities offered by the fast-growing next-generation transportation market: witness the urban mobility initiative of Ford Motor Company, as well as smart city businesses of Ashok Leyland, Infosys, Cisco Systems, IBM, Siemens, and more.

Meanwhile innovative small enterprises are already beginning to grow up around the new mobility ecosystem. For example, companies that offer fractional- use services such as car share, bike share, and customized shuttles, as well as mobile-phone journey-planning apps and multimodal fare-payment technologies, are finding innovative ways to profit from the new-mobility grid. Examples of such innovative enterprise in India include Red Bus, Eco-Cabs Dial A Rickshaw, G-Auto, SMV Wheels Pvt., Transparent Chennai, Ideophone, Yo Bykes, Jan Bas, and more.

Taken together, as industry clusters that cater to the emerging global transportation market are nurtured, they can enhance regional competitiveness and spur job creation. For this to be most effective, a culture of “Public Private Innovation” is emerging in some of the more successful regions, engaging and convening public sector, private sector, and non profit entities early and often to refine the new mobility use cases as they benefit people, cities and economies. As urban complexity and traffic volume increases, the “surface area” between the major movers in the new mobility space needs to increase in support of multi-faceted solutions that meet a range of needs.

New Narratives, New Policy Landscapes, and New Supporting Platforms

Recent studies have begun to show a slight decline in interest in car ownership by the younger generation known as “millenials” – aged 18 – 35. While the jury is still out, this trend is attributed to a number of social and economic factors including a preference for IT over automobile ownership. As such a new narrative (with related business opportunity) seems to be arising featuring a next generation that seeks access to mobility without the necessity of ownership.

At the same time, technology and innovation have begun to outpace the capacity to make policies that apply to them. As such new policy landscapes are emerging to be more nimble and dynamic, with less emphasis on heavy and capital intensive approaches to infrastructure, decision making and financing. In some cases frameworks and incentives aim to reduce or replace detailed regulation with collaborative, multi-stakeholder, integrated, and regionally customized solutions.

New public sector roles are in some cases opening up to include convening, incenting, open system framework-setting, and the building of big data platforms and professional networks that serve not only transportation users, but also transportation leaders and new mobility businesses and enterprises alike. Through the Rockefeller Foundation-supported work on catalyzing the new mobility in cities, the Mobi Prize and platform was developed to crowdsource, profile, link and support new mobility entrepreneurs worldwide (see New skills and capacities are also needed specific to implementing integrated systems and innovating sustainable and exportable solutions.

Outlook for India: The Way Ahead in India and Beyond

According to Dr. Amit Kapoor and Dr. Sankalp Sharma of the Competitiveness Institute:

“One could say that the quality of life plus efficiency of travel would define the future of travel in India”

They recently developed a white paper focused specifally on India entitled “State of the New Mobility Industry in India” to support understanding of the growth and trajectory of the urban mobility clusters in India and the shape of things to come in the future. In a nutshell they found that:

“.. the opportunities exist on many fronts be it mobility solutions for urban poor (whose volumes are massive) or IT solutions for the mobility platforms (GIS/ GPS for tracking MRTS system) to having an IT blueprint of a city. The urban mobility clusters would also create a huge number of jobs, which would promote a more robust and inclusive economic growth.”

They also offer important context for proactive industry cluster development in India, highlighting the following points:

* India has significant metropolitanization in addition to rapid urbanization

* there are many newer smaller cities that are growing faster

* there is a growing number and size of cities

* technology is driving change

* solutions need to be customized

* there is an increase in smaller cars, longer weekend drives, demand for transit, more transport options

* high productivity losses are due to transportation

* the city cannot afford to cater to private cars and two wheelers

* much needs to be done if public transport (and other options) are to play a significant role

* spending on transport is driven by political prestige

* there is a lack of adequate policies for urban transportation

* the Indian auto industry is “glocal”, powerful, and evolving and needs to be integrated into new mobility industry cluster development

* service orientation and the power of IT in transportation is increasing

* the new urban mobility could serve a range of classes of consumers

* a combination of awareness, marketing, technology and policy could help scale emerging innovative enterprises

* enabling infrastructure is needed

* there is a need for skilling the labour force for integrated project operations & implementation

* testing facilities are needed

* IT and new transit solutions are having an effect

* the future of the new mobility cluster in India is exciting

In summary: “India has been at the forefront of technology development (at least since 1993 for this specific industry) and has been able to keep down the costs and deliver superior performance to customers. At present urban mobility is severely hampered in India due to improper planning and development. Investments in transportation technology will hold the key for a new urban transportation cluster. Sustainable technology for transportation could show the way for other countries. If India focuses only on fossil fuel technologies the movement away from these would have significant barriers, which will be difficult to break … The agglomeration factors for a cluster arises primarily from knowledge spillovers and lead to enhanced productivity and faster innovation cycles, which help the region grow and prosper. The primary focus is to enhance design and innovation capacity to achieve international competitiveness”

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