SMART CITY: learn about the revolution in new mobility with Clotilde Chagny and Nicolas Boyer-Mazabraud (EDHEC alumni, class of 2019)!

Published on 21/01/2021
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Have you heard about the Smart City and the revolution in new mobility? Clotilde Chagny and Nicolas Boyer-Mazabraud (both EDHEC CSM graduates from the class of 2019 and EDHEC in Tech club ambassadors) ran a webinar on this topic on 8 December 2020. Guest speakers Clément Guillemot, Program Manager at Moove Lab (incubator for start-ups working in mobility), and Aurélien Cottet, coordinator and MaaS expert at Transdev, shared their expertise and shed light on the future of mobility. 

What exactly is a Smart City?

As the name suggests, a Smart City is an intelligent one, relying on new technology to improve living conditions, in particular by protecting the environment and optimising travel. In France many places are becoming Smart Cities, like Issy-les-Moulineaux or bigger cities like Toulouse and Bordeaux. The Smart City is therefore already underway, and you will see how it raises new challenges.

Economy, environment, inclusivity: the challenges of mobility

Why is mobility a central aspect of any Smart City? Because it lies at the heart of the challenges facing the city of the future and plays an essential role in the economy and the environment, since worldwide 98% of mobility is local

From connected and autonomous vehicles to green mobility and infrastructure management, this phenomenon carries a plethora of challenges: technological innovations, accessibility, data security, accounting for territorial specificities and economic objectives. Expectations in terms of innovation require a multitude of stakeholders (researchers, local authorities, technological centres, the automotive industry, equipment manufacturers, etc.). As you can see, a whole swathe of the economy is affected. And the figures are impressive. Forecasts suggest that micro-mobility, for example, will represent a global market of several hundred billion dollars by 2030, opening up massive economic opportunities. This explains all the fundraising campaigns and the arrival of new market players.

In the Paris region alone, 86% of journeys are shorter than 10 km, and so the potential for the growth of micro-mobility is vast. What’s more, the public health crisis is speeding up this phenomenon, and according to Clément Guillemot, in just one year, micro-mobility will have advanced by the equivalent of 3 to 5 “normal” years. 

In the face of climate problems and pollution, the environmental challenges are also considerable. The impact of micro-mobility is very real: for example, 73% of people who own a pedal-assist bike, or pedelec, have substituted it for their privately owned car. What’s more, this sector is working hard to make this mode of transport 100% sustainable (for example by removing or recycling critical components). Everywhere and in all environments we are seeing an explosion in the use of bikes. Clément Guillemot confirms this:the boom is phenomenal in urban areas, with reliance on micro-mobility jumping 62% in Paris in 2020 compared to 2019 for example”. He believes that pedelecs are set to become the norm and will mark a “revolution in our everyday mobility over the next few years”.

One of the biggest challenges is ensuring inclusivity, which means making micro-mobility accessible to all citizens, in both rural and outlying urban areas, and taking into account people who are not yet digitally connected.   

A closer look at micro-mobility

If you’re wondering what micro-mobility covers, it simply refers to categories of light vehicles, whether human-driven or electric, which are connected and do not exceed 45 km/h (scooters, bikes, pedelecs, electric mopeds, etc.).

There are several factors that explain their development in recent years:

-       Problems linked to traffic and pollution

-       Massive investment by public authorities in infrastructure (bike lanes in particular)

-       Increasing user demand for more environmentally-friendly modes of transport (huge spike in the use of scooters and bikes)

-       Current trend towards being a “user” rather than an “owner”

And so the revolution has begun, favouring the emergence of new business models: examples include intelligent pedelecs with built-in features, maintenance and insurance services, and subscriber and rental systems.

MaaS: uniting the worlds of transport and digital technology

What does MaaS mean?

Mobility as a Service. The principle is to regroup public and private mobility services in a given area, for example by offering a single app to find an itinerary that might include buses, taxis, bikes, etc. The idea is to propose personalised mobility as an alternative to the car, based on your habits and preferences. To achieve this, the entire ecosystem used by people to get around must be taken into account. The involvement and coordination of local authorities is therefore essential. In the long term, MaaS will even allow us to manage traffic flows in real time (for example eliminating congestion by controlling traffic lights).

How can we ensure efficient MaaS?

As you can imagine, creating a pretty app is not enough. There are many things to take into account: CRM, collecting and using data in the right way, designing transport networks, operational efficiency, partnerships, good governance between operators and public authorities, and profitability. Even though the sector is attracting many different stakeholders, it is still difficult today to find a business model that generates revenue for everyone. There are currently around 100 MaaS projects worldwide. Some that are up and running and profitable include the whim app (operating in Helsinki, Birmingham, Antwerp and Vienna) and moovizy in France (Saint-Etienne).

And 20 years from now?

After MaaS will come CaaS, City as a Service, where you can pay for everything via a single app (for example your transport + the activity you’re travelling for). Uber and Amazon are already collaborating to adapt deliveries to personal mobility and are moving towards more environmentally-friendly practices.

And in respect of the environment, imagine a future where the carbon produced by the mobility of staff members will be included in a company’s carbon footprint. MaaS will therefore be an essential tool, for example to reward employees with “healthy” mobility. That future is already a reality in Finland, where citizens with more virtuous mobility habits get discounts in public transport and stores close to their home. Inspirational, no?

If you have questions or this subject interests you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with EDHEC in Tech. And don’t forget that the EDHEC Alumni webinars are an opportunity to discuss a wide range of topics live!

Career change? Moving house?