This is the first of a two part series covering the future of transport, logistics and planning.
The changes technology will inflict in transport may be the most impactful society will ever experience. This transformation is enabled by technology, but mainly driven by the environmental and societal urgency. Take for instance our energy sources. Fossil fuels are currently the primary source of energy and we are running out. A quest for more sustainable ways of transportation is inevitable. The overpopulation of cities is another example, caused by longevity and the rural-to-urban migration of people. If we continue to be diligent, transport, logistics and planning industries might just save this overpopulated world from environmental pollution, depletion and urban discomfort; we’ll save it by disruption.
Technology is on its way to unfold itself as the guardian angel of these societal developments. Rapid innovations in automation and the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) are already re-shaping travel and logistic experiences. Driverless cars, connected cities, Mobility-as-a-Service applications, car sharing, and biometric data are among other things innovations that are a part of the to be disrupted transport industry. The next decade we can expect further shifts in the transport paradigm, in the attempt to solve issues like congestion, population imparity, inefficient multi-modal transportation, and environmental concerns.
Smart analytics and planning in an on-demand economy
To change travelling into a customised journey you need to take away the hassle. It needs to be an effortless process for people in order to adopt this change. People need to be able to pick up an electric bike around the corner, drop it a few blocks further, take the train and pick up a car from there, so to speak. Without searching through multiple booking search engines, comparing time tables and endless waiting. This is just one example. Same thing applies to logistics of goods. This means that the data of accommodation and vehicle providers need to be consolidated into a smart platform. Furthermore our infrastructure needs drastic improvements so it can accommodate the vast data needed. And smart algorithms to process the data.
There are already companies that came up with solutions that anticipate the on-demand character of the future society.
In the Netherlands Calendar42 has developed an algorithm platform that has the ability to seamlessly connect the dots between people and resources. Their applications leverage the power of real-time data and advanced time & location based algorithms. Business solutions that arise from this are among other ridesharing, resource planning and package & delivery solutions.
Upcoming trends that also meet the on-demand character of our society are inner-city deliveries by cargo bicycles and long distance delivery by drones. DHL recently started a pilot with their so called Cubicycles in Germany and the Netherlands. Also it has started testing delivery via drones, which you can see in action in this video.
These are just a few examples, but there’s a lot more going on.
A part of this on-demand economy is the sharing economy. In this economic model individuals borrow or rent assets owned by someone else, enabled by digital platforms. In transportation Uber and Lyft are well-known examples worldwide. In the Netherlands the ridesharing company Toogethr takes it a step further; they match people based on a mutual activity. They started out with an app for commuters. Companies or business hubs can enrol their employees in private communities, so people can be matched based on the same work location. Recently Toogethr launched a comparable app for large events, like festivals, to not only arrange the ridesharing matches but also to arrange parking for the festival visitors. Both activities bring about a lot of congestion issues and produce an enormous quantity of carbon emission. This shows that the sharing economy has huge potential for future mobility development.
Smart mobility encompasses the use of technology to connect and improve all aspects of travelling. Beacons, sensors, open data, IoT, cloud; these are all existing technologies that together form the threshold of a new era of mobility. Cheaper, more efficient and easier ways of travelling will endorse the switch from ownership to usership when it comes to vehicles. Also, multi-modal transportation will be prioritised upside down and enriched by new devices. Having all the tools and devices in place, it’s all going to be about connectivity.
When it comes to connectivity, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is truly showing thought leadership. Schiphol has the highest level of direct connectivity of all airports in Europe, according to The ACI Connectivity Report 2017. The airport is aiming to incorporate more smart assets to actively exploit digital capabilities. By creating more digital contact moments Schiphol will be able to provide passengers better service.
Schiphol is also on a quest to pilot promising innovations. In their region they are testing smart traffic lights for freight trucks, together with telecom company KPN. Every day, thousands of trucks drive to and from the area. Preventing trucks from braking, shifting and accelerating continuously will reduce carbon emissions, delays and fuel costs. Also it will ensure more reliable travel times.
Another interesting test is the one with the semi-autonomous bus of Mercedes that has built in camera’s, radar sensors and GPS. The bus covered an impressive twelve mile journey from Schiphol to Haarlem, a city just outside Amsterdam.
In order to disrupt the transport industry, we need parties as Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Parties that have the means, knowledge and guts to boost innovation and build a solid infrastructure and supply chain. As one of the partners and launching customers in the Mainport innovation fund II, together with TU delft, KLM, NS and port of Amsterdam, Schiphol is a crucial enabler in the transportation industry.
Connectivity and smart infrastructures will turn the future around
As you can read, the future of transport, logistics and resource planning is already here. It’s all about finetuning and improving innovations and replacing old systems with a powerful infrastructure. But most of all, it’s about setting up a framework that enables commercial parties to grasp the potential of connectivity and build disruptive solutions. Disruption in these areas will help humanity to create a better, more sustainable world.
In the next blogpost of this series I will focus more on the vehicles and devices that are likely to become common in our future transport landscape.
I’m curious on your findings in this perspective. I would be happy if you would share them with me on Twitter: @arjenvanberkum.