After assessing the maturity of mobility innovation ecosystems in 30 world cities, the Urban Mobility Innovation Index (UMii) has revealed several notable success stories.
Rather than scoring and ranking cities competitively, the Urban Mobility Innovation Index (UMii) looks at some of the challenges and that capture elements of the different stages of innovation. The framework has been tested in 30 cities worldwide, from major capitals such as Dubai and Barcelona to cities in developing countries, such as Abuja and Nairobi. “UMii is ground-breaking. There are few indexes dedicated to urban transport, and none that specially measure cities’ capacity to foster and implement innovation in this sector,” said Tim Moonen, Intelligence Director at the Business of Cities.
The development index was first announced in August 2016 by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashed Al Maktoum, the crown prince of Dubai. The project sponsored by the Roads & Transport Authority of Dubai (RTA) and implemented by UITP in partnership with Future Cities Catapult, the UK Government-backed global centre of excellence in urban innovation.
Some of Connected Places Catapult’s main contributions towards the project has been the development of a comprehensive framework to understand how cities are fostering mobility innovation. Alongside this, we have identified and interviewed stakeholders from the 30 cities taking part in the project, using their information coupled with information from our researchers to build a profile for each city.
By assessing the maturity of city innovation ecosystems, the Innovation Index seeks to empower city leaders to implement urban mobility policies and measures that enable innovation, and promote knowledge sharing and dialogue. A report with initial findings of the study published in the spring of 2017 highlights how some of the cities included in the index have implemented particularly successful urban mobility innovation policies.
1.0 Readiness: Does the city have a grounded view of how to approach innovation and the capability to deploy it?
While the study found that most cities have a strategy for urban mobility, these are often a statement of ambitions and guiding principles rather than concrete roadmaps. Barcelona is highlighted as one of the cities with a detailed roadmap, the city even has a dedicated Mobility Department that focuses on the development of urban mobility. Barcelona’s Metropolitan Plan of Urban Mobility clearly defines the foundations for the future of urban mobility in the region, the study says.
Most cities say they have limited internal capacity to address mobility innovation according to the report, which refers to the Amsterdam Smart City initiative as an example of how cities can draw on and nurture external talent. The Dutch innovation platform brings together businesses, authorities, research institutions and citizens. Amsterdam has also hired a Chief Technology Officer, the report points out.
And although the opportunities of big data for the transport sector are significant, the quality of the data collected as well as the adoption of standardised ways of collecting and sharing the data remains a challenge. In the report, Singapore receives praise for its advanced data collection and data analytics practices. The development of the city-state’s Common Fleet Management system, designed to turn traditional bus timetables into a flexible, real-time response system, shows how data can be used in an innovative way.
2.0 Deployment: How effectively does the city enable innovation to be deployed?
When it comes to implementing innovation plans, most cities still have a reactive and passive response to regulatory barriers the study reveals, particularly towards more disruptive innovations. A notable example highlighted in the study is Helsinki. The Finnish capital’s ability to support and foster innovation has been boosted by the Finnish Transport Code, which was created to remove regulatory and legislative barriers to innovation in urban mobility.
Although investment in research and development is considered to be crucial, ring-fenced city budgets are often restricted to capital expenditure such as a cycle path or new metro cars. The study points out how Dubai has embraced a successful ‘leading by example’ strategy to leverage its investment in innovation instead. Among other initiatives, the city’s Roads & Transport Authority has created a Scientific Research Award to boost investment in promising initiatives.
User engagement has become an increasingly common practice among city planners, who are keen to harness the knowledge of communities by opening their processes to different stakeholders. Sydney one of the cities to take major steps to actively engage users, and place them at the centre of the mobility system, the study says. To engage users around the development and direction of the strategic direction of the Australian metropolis an online engagement portal was developed, for example.
3.0 Liveability: How well is the city performing when it comes to quality of life?
Physical and Digital Connectivity
To operate innovative transport systems a city must take a holistic approach to joining up infrastructure across the city. This includes developing both physical and digital connectedness. In Munich, the transport ticketing system is well integrated according to the study. Tickets can be used across multiple modes of transport and the Bavarian city has strategically located numerous car sharing and bike sharing facilities next to interchange hubs.
A more livable city invariably involves increasing the share of walking and cycling, the study points out, while highlighting a successful initiative in the United States. In Chicago, several well-established alternative mobility solutions are available. Implemented by Chicago Department of Transport, Divvy is a well-integrated and extensive bike sharing system with over 6,000 bikes available across the city, making it easier for people to choose healthy and responsible mobility options.
A more environmentally friendly city should be recording data that provides insights on the quality of air in the city. Two key indicators measured by the framework to provide these insights is the annual mean of PM2.5 concentration in the city and the final annual energy consumption from transport sector per capita.
A detailed report including individual cities’ innovation profiles will be launched later in 2017, along with a Policy Paper including final recommendations and key enablers for innovation in urban mobility.