Smart moves: Removing the barriers to future mobility

22 March 2018
Gulf cities must reform more fundamentally than simply implementing new technologies

The case for smart transport in the Middle East is easy to make. With some of the highest levels of car ownership in the world, the region has carbon emission rates that rank among the worst on the planet. It is also home to some of the world’s most dangerous highways.

The region’s traditional answer to its transport problems has been to build more roads. Over the past 15 years, the Middle East and North Africa region has spent more than $263bn on new roads, bridges and tunnels, as authorities have sought to build their way out of congestion.

But this traditional approach can no longer be sustained. Apart from the immense capital cost, the rate of car ownership is expanding even faster than the road network.

Across the region, governments are trying to break with old habits in order to focus on traffic management through intelligent networks.

Big Data and the Internet of Things are enabling smart command centres to interact with technologies such as autonomous vehicles and intelligent traffic signs, making smart transport a reality.

At the same time, new business models such as ride-hailing service Uber and public-private partnerships offer new ways to make transport work financially.

The Gulf’s up-and-coming cities have the opportunity to be smart transport pioneers, but they must reform more fundamentally than simply implementing new technologies.

The missing ingredient is regulation. Out-of-date legislation based around traditional transport modes is one of the biggest barriers to smart transport.

The next generation of transport investments must be accompanied by the coordinated introduction of legislation and regulations that enable smart transport solutions.

Agenda

Outsmarting the region’s traffic troubles

As Dubai has shown, smart transport infrastructure not only requires new laws, but also substantial technology investments

Reshaping how we get around

Arup’s Joerg Tonndorf and John McCarthy explain how technology and smart transportation are changing the way we travel

Infographic: Getting smarter

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