As 2018 comes to a close, there are going to be plenty of lists rounding up the trends from the past year. Autonomous vehicles are obvious candidates, but after the non-story of Waymo One’s launch, I expect to be nonplussed in 2019 as well. Here are some big themes we expect will really come to the forefront this year.
The past year was huge for micromobility, a term which barely existed in any significant way before now. Dockless bikes and then electric scooters rained down upon the streets of cities everywhere around the world, presenting both opportunities and challenges. The biggest challenge for cities was how to regulate these new mini-vehicles, which can be parked almost anywhere. Some cities, like Washington DC, established quotas for each company to control the number of vehicles on the road.
In 2019, we’re going to see cities start using open and proprietary data for performance monitoring and to implement performance-based quotas. The number of scooters allocated could be based on how often each is used, how many car trips these electric vehicles are taking off the road or other goals such as equity.
We’re also going to see the continued development of mobility platforms integrating multiple types of transportation — and more experimentation with pricing mobility “as a service,” like how we pay for mobile plans or Netflix. In 2018, Uber and Lyft began piloting new modes (including micromobility and transit) in some of their U.S. markets, but this will expand nationally and globally in 2019.
As mobility platforms expand and adopt service pricing, these are two key steps toward universal basic mobility, the point at which every person has equal access to getting around affordably with ease.
Precise location services
We’ve seen plenty of location-based services already, but 2019 will take them to a new level of precision. If you’ve been in an airport lately, you may have seen a great example of this with table-delivery technology. In Washington’s Reagan National Airport, travelers in Terminal A can sit down, order food from a kiosk and have it delivered to their exact seat.
The way restaurants, retailers and the cities that house them approach pickup and delivery will change dramatically in the coming year, whether it’s brick-and-mortar retail deploying proximity systems such as Radius Networks’ FlyBuy or Amazon delivering orders directly to your car with Amazon Key. Taking this a step further, restaurants will be able to deliver food directly to a customer’s location using only mobile location services — so you can even take a scooter to instantly grab your tacos.
Commercial buildings get smart
The smart building trend has been growing for a while, and the number of building-specific smart apps has grown along with it. This year, we’ll hit a tipping point where it will be more unusual for a major urban commercial office or apartment building to not have an app.
From controlling the temperature of the exact space around your desk at work to making sure your apartment door is locked even after you’ve left the house, apps have been making a splash. Some of these apps also include transportation information to increase the ease of getting around with so many micromobility options available. For property managers and owners, the advantage is clear — your location and the amenities associated with it are as likely to be digital as physical. For renters and tenants, the plus side is having the same level of comfort and productivity at your office that you do at your home.
All of these trends have one thing in common: using smart city technology to increase efficiency and convenience for the end user. A city is only as smart as its citizens, and 2019 will be all about using information to make individuals as smart (and happy) as possible.
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