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Q&A: Two minutes with... Nick Knorr

Nick Knorr is a programme director for customer experience at Transport Systems Catapult, the "UK's innovation centre for intelligent mobility". The Catapult published the benchmarking Traveller Needs and UK Capability Study in October 2015.

What is intelligent mobility?

It’s all about improving effective and sustainable movement of people and goods in the future. It will involve the integration of different modes of transport and services so we can manage capacity in our networks. Key drivers are the strong growth in mobile connectivity and smartphone penetration, as well as the emerging Internet of Things, including connected vehicles and infrastructure, increased digitalisation and availability of data.

Why is it important?

We face challenges within transport – such as environmental impact, congestion, capacity and safety – and intelligent mobility is a potential way we can face these. The business potential of the global market for this new sector is estimated at £900 million a year in a decade’s time. This is a major emerging market and there is an opportunity for the UK to be a big player in this.

What is the UK doing?

A lot, particularly if you look at priority access around connectivity and networks, the transfer of information between cars, work on travellers’ needs, GPS and satellites. We are starting to join the dots together, with academia, industry and government very focused on how to exploit it.

As part of this, Innovate UK, the Department for Transport and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills backed a special study of traveller needs and the country’s capability last year. Transport Systems Catapult, the UK’s centre for integrated transport systems, led the research backed by other innovation centres and industry players. The study comprised 10,000 online and 100 offline respondents, 50 company interviews and 100 expert interviews. This aimed to understand the key challenges the UK must overcome to develop opportunities for intelligent mobility.

What did the study find?

More than 70 per cent of journeys in the UK involve “pain points” – negative experiences – with these pain points increasing in line with the modes of transport. These modes are not well integrated, and as one of the key aims of intelligent mobility this is where we need to focus – to create travel that is about the end journey and not just modally focused, and to enable lifestyles for people to travel, which is a key societal aim.

So how do we get a step-change in mobility?

There are four key themes for integration. Access will cover future mobility services and innovations, among them shared vehicles and demand-responsive buses. Demand and supply will involve shifting transport flows to less congested routes, cutting peak demand and reducing downtime where there is spare capacity. Integration covers information, ticketing and interchanges by bringing together disparate systems and services to give travellers a seamless experience of the transport network. Finally, automation will involve autonomous vehicles. We are quite a long way to achieving intelligent mobility and the rest of the world is looking at it.

The Traveller Needs and UK Capability Study can be downloaded at: tinyurl.com/planner0316-catapult

Nick knorr was speaking to Simon Wicks


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