The Swedish government has set a target to be a world-leader when it comes to digitization of the public sector by 2025. In a digitized transport system – connected, optimized, automized – both transport of people and transport of goods will be streamlined and more cost-effective. Large areas in cities will be freed up, time and fuel will be saved, and the number of traffic accidents will be reduced.

According to McKinsey, the consolidated economical value from 2025 can be up to 75-100 billion SEK annually – and that number climbs even higher when autonomous vehicles are fully utilized. But how does Sweden go about making this happen?

Finance innovation

One way to make this happen is through finance innovation. CLOSER is a Swedish neutral platform that receives public funding and gathers stakeholders from industry, universities and institutes, and cities and regions. Authorities collaborate to find solutions for increased transport efficiency. A number of projects are run in a triple-helix mode as no stakeholder can do this on its own.

CLOSER’S annual meeting was held (virtually!) in March 2020 and it was great to see that IoT and connectivity is adding value to many of the ongoing projects. It means our ICT industry is an important part of solutions.

Safe, secure transport

CLOSER’s geofencing project is about creating a safe and secure road transport system for vulnerable road users.  It’s also about meeting future needs for safe, fossil-free, and quieter transport. On example of this is the city of Gothenburg’s ElectriCity project, where geofencing determines when a bus is set to electric drive and where maximum speed is limited.

Another project involves Volvo Cars, were hybrid cars automatically change powertrain, depending on geofencing.  All of these projects depend on close to real-time data from connected vehicles, as well as access open data such environmental zones, speed limits, etc.

No more street signs?

How can more good results be achieved?  One identified area is Dynamic Digital Environmental Zones available as open data. Imagine no signs in the streets but instead,  all dynamically updated and available for all vehicles depending on current or forecasted congestion, noise, or pollution levels. If you want to impact the route taken in these zones, changes (opening hours) need to be available beforehand, when the route is decided. This is explored with the EU-sponsored project Nordic Way 2, where the service is developed to distribute traffic policy protocols to road users in real-time, which enables dynamically controlled zones and allows vehicles to adjust characteristics accordingly. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Mobility as part of the rent?

As we all know, there has been a dramatic shift in behavior from physical to digital shopping.

New business opportunities enabled by technology drives up ecommerce. Another trend is urbanization, where people move into urban spaces, increasing the need of urban deliveries in a limited congested space. In 2017 the value of the global logistics market was an astonishing 1,170 billion USD.  At the same time, the average utilization of freight vehicles was only 43% and the daily freighted weight per consumer was 45kg. All this adds up to noise, pollution, and congestion.

DensCity 3 is a new project focused on integrating transport issues in the city, developing, testing, and implementing new technology and solutions. The goal is to increase efficiency in the transport system in terms of increased utilization of vehicles and infrastructure in time and space. To a large extent, consumers currently drive the time and destination of deliveries and the cost of delivery is often times included in the ecommerce offering. The question is, how can ‘co-delivery’ be incentivized?

One interesting subproject is testing ride sharing of goods and garbage. This makes sense as most of us not only buy a lot but also need to use our cars to dispose of a lot of waste that is the result of consumption. Another project is the full-service building for delivery and sharing, which looks into how real estate owners, ecommerce actors, and logistics companies can interact to create a sustainable city with a high service degree, and that then sees the need for owning a private vehicle reduced to zero. Will mobility-as-a-service be included in the rent as a standard in the future? And will there be Mobility Brokers evolving?

Real-time changes

My conclusion, based on the projects reported, is that due to the fact that many actors are involved in the transportation of goods and people.

The situation changes in real-time, and open data and connectivity are both key to creating the needed solutions for the transportation of goods and people in the smart city. That is a city we would all like to live in, with good air quality, low traffic noise, and areas used for people not vehicles – while still having high availability of needed services. I am excited to be part of the solution!