Connected consumers are a product of their environment, their homes and cities are part of the story. Today there is very clear evidence that connectivity most notably in the context of transport infrastructure is due for major disruption. The automobile which was once the cause atomisation of the cityscape is now ready for a significant rebound with the potential to reconnect us, raise affordability and trigger a world of new opportunity relating to how we might choose to live in the future.
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Connectivity has brought with it a host of new business models which have served to disrupt incumbents across industries and through value chains. Transport is no different. While electronic cards have streamlined transport in London and Singapore (for example) the impending arrival of MaaS could well be one of the most fundamental changes cities have seen since the arrival of the internal combustion engine a century or so ago.
Significant investment is going into the driverless car, with major technology and automotive brands partnering in what is turning into a race to be first to market.While the chance to spend journeys engaging in other activities should have a major economic benefit, there is a nagging feeling that the helpless passenger will be pummelled by ads for the duration of the journey. Autonomy will also provide significant new commercial opportunities, if the consumer will not go to the high street, then perhaps the high street can come to them.
If modern cities are congested and expensive places, then the opportunity to reclaim urban space, thanks to the 70% fall in vehicle numbers associated with the introduction of autonomous vehicles, is a significant upside to urban dwellers. This will free up more space, leading to lower land prices and more accessible pricing structures for rents and property ownership.
While transport development has served to atomise the city, pushing the development of suburbs, connectivity has emerged as a glue which is helping to reconstitute a population which is more mobile and spread out than ever before. Connectivity will continue to play a big part in the continued reconstitution of the cityscape, as well as relationships.