Monday Musing: Intelligent Mobility? Time for parking to smarten up

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Many of us will be familiar with the term 'Intelligent Mobility' but what does it actually mean? The Transport Systems Catapult (TSC), is one of seven elite technology and innovation centres established and overseen by the UK's innovation agency, Innovate UK. It defines Intelligent Mobility as a ‘smarter approach to journeys’, encompassing everything from autonomous vehicles to seamless journey systems and multi-modal modelling software.

It also concerns the use of emerging technologies and how these can enable the smarter, greener and more efficient movement of people and goods around the world.

The parking and wider transport sectors have traditionally faced many challenges and continue do so. These challenges require joined up solutions, with organisations and service providers working in collaboration to address and then deliver effective solutions and technology in a variety of forms using the internet, data and the connectivity abilities of a broad range of products and services which are now starting to play a real part in many of these solutions.

Whilst attending the Imagine Festival recently held at the TSC in Milton Keynes, it was clear that thinking around the movement of people and goods is now firmly established at the forefront of many people’s minds. However it has only been very recently that we are beginning to realise that now is the time to act and that this huge global market, which according to research carried out by TSC in 2014  is due to be worth an estimated £900 billion by 2025, very much needs parking to be a major part of any discussions.

Parking policy has a major influence on people’s travel decisions and therefore on how people move and become mobile. Technology is revolutionising the way people travel. The BPA is keen to connect emerging technology to people's mobility aspirations through the development of a new parking policy that embraces all aspects of intelligent mobility.

We also recognise that ongoing research is key to developing policy and to influencing policy change among government, local authority and health service leaders. Policy will then drive the technology - whatever that might be in the intelligent mobility arena – including autonomous vehicles, payment systems or in-vehicle guidance systems. The next step is to establish a clear research brief to meet this purpose and use this to apply for funding from Innovate UK. 

We will also seek to establish links to other stakeholders including intelligent mobility groups, mobile phone companies, car manufacturers, intelligent transport providers and academia. Although strong links with organisations and individuals already exist through our Parking Forum group and relationships with Universities via the John Heasman Bursary, we recognise that parking needs to play a much bigger part in discussion and thinking around intelligent mobility. It’s also vital that we continue to effectively connect with government, local authorities, health trusts and the private sector to build a policy consensus.

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