Introducing the Mobility Layer
Karen Lau @ Unshplash
Looking back into the past, mobility, from the Latin word mōbilitās —a combination of mōbilis (easy to be moved, moveable) and -tās (“-ness”) — suggested that the decision-making process regarding the flow of movement was actually… easy. Perhaps, it was only easy because moving around on land meant you had just two options —either walking or using animals. Nowadays, mobility seems to unfold other forms of behavior, apparently more complex and tangled.
We have increased the need, desire, and options for mobility, complicating the decision-making process and taking the joy out of moving around. Things have gotten to the point where each Mexico City resident spends around 45 days per year commuting. By 2030, the world is expected to have formed 43 new megacities much like the Mexican capital, lengthening daily commute times due to the increasing distances between residences and job opportunities. Yet, despite the time commitment involved, several studies show that people do not actually enjoy their commute. With motorized, carbon-emitting vehicles still the main choice for transportation worldwide, it is high time to consider new possibilities for more sustainable and joyful mobility.
4.5 billion passengers took to the air in 2018. The year prior, in 182 major cities with rail-based mass transit, nearly 54 billion passengers took to the tracks to move about the city. That figure does not include any trips by bus, automatically excluding cities without urban railways. The amount we move around has reached staggering heights. But with this explosive growth comes consequences —are we prepared enough to rise to the occasion and overcome these challenges?
On that note, this research project aims to guide the mobility sector towards a smarter, more efficient future. The technology applications here include ways to reduce unnecessary travel, and presents possibilities to reduce our reliance on private vehicles by taking a holistic view of cities. Urban administrators and the general public need to partner together to rethink infrastructure, urbanization, and even culture itself. Only upon the democratization of public spaces by encompassing the needs of all citizens will cities be truly welcoming.
Further, the reader is invited to abandon private motorized vehicles altogether. Through the demonstration of novel modes of transport, shared mobility, and intelligent public transportation alternatives. The aim is to make commuting a delightful and sustainable experience. It is vital to improve fuel efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of mobility overall. Therefore, in the last cluster, this set of technologies works towards that common objective, explaining the options and methods of upgrading vehicles and urban infrastructure. Going green is an achievable, practical goal, essential in protecting our lungs, and providing some relief to the ecological lungs of the planet.
Despite a concerted worldwide effort to focus on avoiding, shifting, and improving mobility, significant challenges await. Especially when it comes to climate change and the utter contempt of some prominent politicians in disregarding science, new approaches urgently need to be developed and integrated in the private sector and countries supporting the Sustainable Development Goals established by the UN. Other hurdles are harder to overcome without government support. Major infrastructural improvements and urban renovations will need government approval and funding.
The challenges and possible solutions explored throughout this project are not meant as pure inspiration, but also to provide and share critical knowledge and tools for the present and future of sustainable mobility, energy extraction, and modes of transportation. GIZ, together with Envisioning, developed the techDetector, a tool for intuitive visualization and analytical study. The resulting technology applications included in the project were assessed according to NASA's Technology Readiness Level (TRL) in which 1 is the lowest level of technology maturation, and 9 is the highest level of maturation, used for technologies that are already incorporated in society. The following research has also been evaluated according to the 17 parameters of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Our interactive visualization permits navigation between technologies, each containing a summary, description, and source information regarding their current state of development. The project also includes several stories revealing in depth the role and impact of these technologies in relation to business models and trends related to the mobility sector. This project is a part of a series of sustainability-focused research reports, in which GIZ and Envisioning dive deep into a particular topic of interest, addressing the main themes in achieving sustainable development.
You are now invited to navigate the interactive visualization tool to help trace a path towards a future of sustainable and responsible mobility.