Monday Musing: Smart Cities Make Smart Use of Space

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Fresh thinking around the concept of mobility is required to keep up with changes in society. JustPark outlines precisely why space is a key component on the road to smarter cities and how local authorities who are embracing the change can lead the way to a better future.

You’re probably familiar with the concept of smart cities, it’s a phrase that’s gained in popularity over the past few years. But the concept dates back to the 1900s and is associated with people like the legendary industrialist George Cadbury whose pioneering work laid the foundation for the creation of garden cities. At the heart of the garden city concept was the understanding that people need to live and work in clean environments that treasure a sense of community and the overall wellbeing of its inhabitants.

A lot has changed over the past century, but the need for our cities to get smarter and serve the people who live and work in them better are ever present. One key difference today compared to the 1900s, is that most people don’t live close to where they work. Family members also live further apart from each other. Many people who travel across the country and work in cities commute using a mixture of transportation. Despite people making an increasing number of trips Year on Year, most trips conducted by car are relatively short. In 2017, 68% of car journeys were reported to be under 5 miles [National Travel Survey: England 2017].


Cashless a step in the right direction

Finding smarter ways to connect people to the places where our loved ones live and where we work is a challenge that requires a multitude of solutions ranging from infrastructure to societal change. In the face of increasing congestion and dense populations in our cities, the need for decentralised and flexible parking solutions is increasing. Starting with its cashless payment platform, JustPark is enabling businesses and local authorities to drive meaningful change around mobility and space. JustPark’s holistic approach to mobility is helping its partners get ahead of the parking challenges we currently face, but it is also preparing them for the future. 

Offering a reliable and easy cashless payment option has successfully given greater choice to drivers and has sped up the parking process in 15 local authorities. Taking things a step further, JustPark’s platform offers dynamic pricing and predictive availability to help anticipate and manage demand.


Preparing for the future

We don’t have to look too far down the road to see the demand that will be increasingly placed on available space. JustPark has stated as an organisation that its mission is to “repurpose and optimise spaces, ensuring people can make smarter, seamless and sustainable transport decisions.” Beyond parking cars, the company’s growing network of JustPark-accessible spaces have the potential to provide space for micromobility vehicles like e-bikes and scooters, space for online deliveries via drone, and even aerial taxis.

Part of this new mobility is the focus on first and last mile travel. As our transport networks are nudged towards decentralised locations by societal shifts and Low Emissions Zones, visitors and commuters may only need a personal vehicle for a very short portion of journeys in city environments. Plans revealed by the Department of Transport during a 2018 consultation suggest that we could see a radical reduction in the access that HGVs and vans have to city centres. Creating smart and connected transport hubs for people, as well as goods, is a crucial component in preparing us for that future.

In the US, where the charge toward EV and first and last mile travel is being fully embraced, billions of dollars has been invested in micromobility startups since 2015. However, here in the UK, one of the major barriers for adoption of these small and environmental-focused vehicles is the need for docking space. Thinking beyond simply parking cars, a creative approach to space management could potentially see spaces that are currently used for parking cars, used for a range of vehicles and services.

With smart deliveries, the rise of EVs, increased emissions restrictions, decentralised transport and the micromobility space set to boom over the coming decades. Increasing numbers of local authorities are beginning to embrace that change and take a proactive approach to solving the mobility issues of tomorrow, today.

Written by Jonathan Devo for JustPark