Last month Fujitsu’s World Tour event in London played host to some of the key voices in the British transport sector.
Top of the agenda were the technology developments that are transforming the way we travel – and keeping the UK at the forefront of exciting developments in this area.
Particularly interesting was the discussion on the many different ways digital is having an effect on transport. Here’s a quick round-up of the key points raised:
Digital is helping solve some of the common bugbears with our transport system
According to Iain Forbes, Head of Centre for Connected and Autonomous for BEIS Vehicles, digital is already proving instrumental in tackling common issues, from road safety to accessibility and its ability to create jobs. He praised the industry’s spirit for using digital to accelerate innovation.
Digital will be at the heart of strategic priorities to promote growth in the north
Looking at the impact of transport links on society, David Brown, Chief Executive for Transport for North, explained the crucial role digital will play in identifying and promoting short, medium and long term growth for the North of England.
Transport is just one aspect of this, he said, though updating our physical links – such as railways and motorways – will be critical. Technology, he said, is defining plans to close the gap between the North and the rest of the UK.
Freight is a key element to the transport story
Though voters are most often transport-users in the traditional sense, freight is an essential element to the country’s economy.
Josh Hewer, Senior Analyst at GlobalData, discussed how freight is a good example of where focusing on new business processes has led to improved services, such as using IoT to track forklifts and optimise routes.
Tech has a role to play in ensuring our transport systems are inclusive
We already have shared mobile solutions for bikes and cars in big cities, but the transport industry should work with government and the tech industry to explore these alternative mobility options.
With life expectancy getting longer, we’ll soon see a business case for mobilising groups who have typically been marginalised.
Listening to all of our panellists – whether from the private sector, government or impartial analysts – it was interesting to hear how they each saw collaboration as absolutely key to defining the future of transport.
Looking at the big picture, the transport sector is lagging behind others (such as finance and retail) in terms of the adoption of digital services – and that has impacted customer satisfaction.
Of course, there are challenges.
Josh highlighted how the transport system isn’t necessarily structured towards innovation, and how becoming more open would allow it to encapsulate new stakeholders looking to break into the market.
What’s more, with innovation cycles shrinking, according to Gary Watts, CEO at ACT, the pressure to innovate is high and we need to be open to new solutions for satisfying that clamour for digital transformation.
It’s for this reason that software is becoming ever more important. AI and data analytics have already paid dividends in upgrading the way we get from A to B, but there is still a distance to go.
What is clear is that co-creation will define the future of transport, and we hope to see more discussions between key actors in the transport space such as this as we move forward into the next era of mobility.
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