It is often seen that when a city witnesses significant growth, there are a couple of byproducts that the authorities might not have anticipated. One of those side effects being excessive traffic congestion. While many cities are trying to curb this issue by promoting public transport, the GCC states are looking to follow suit but with the additional help of technology.
Similar to most global cases of urbanisation, Mark Haddad, a principal with Strategy& (Middle East) claims Saudi Arabia’s biggest cities are facing the usual urbanisation issues like frequent traffic jams, increased demand for transportation services which might further have negative environmental impacts as well.
Hence, the Kingdom is looking to adopt innovative solutions for its daily transportation needs for the betterment of its citizens by utilising smart mobility technologies. To further act as a catalyst for this smart mobility advancement, a recent study called “Smart Mobility in the GCC: Fast Track to the Future” released by Strategy& puts Saudi Arabia and the UAE as the frontrunners in the field of smart mobility in the Middle East.
Cities in Saudi Arabia are adopting their own methods of smart mobility solutions. For instance, the authorities behind the city of Neom touted to be as the futuristic megacity, recently announced their plans to develop the world’s most user-centric, eco-friendly and technologically advanced land mobility ecosystem.
The megacity is further said to be the first place in the world which is entirely digitised. This implies having a 24-hour health service, a 100 percent cashless facility and a fully autonomous mobility ecosphere where both personal and public transport will consist of only electric vehicles.
The capital city of Riyadh, on the other hand, has opted to focus on traffic management first, by enabling AI-based adaptive signaling project, capable of tracking and imposing fines for wielding unruly driving patterns at traffic junctions.
As per Haddad, the Kingdom is even eyeing the most popular emerging mass-transit technology: the hyperloop as well, to further speed up progress. Indicating towards the Virgin Hyperloop’s strategic partnership with the Economic Cities Authority of Saudi Arabia, Haddad told ArabNews that the Kingdom has already engaged in strategic partnerships with hyperloop technology players, so expect the loop to be up and running in the coming decade.
According to the report, employing smart mobility solutions across the GCC area will have broader benefits in several sectors. For instance, road accidents are expected to reduce due to the operation of automated vehicles. Smart-mobility public transport alternatives will ensure a larger number of citizens can travel more efficiently, leading to lesser travel time and minimal traffic gridlocks. Not to forget, the use of electric vehicles even in the public transport sector will see the city operating under a clean and green environment.
This advent of smart mobility will also have a positive impact on the labour class. The report claims the availability of such intelligent transport solutions might instigate the working class to move closer to the city while discarding their vehicles altogether. While those who choose to live away from the urban setup can still benefit from the autonomous transport facility by being productive during transit as well.
Furthermore, the report also foresees the country’s distant future to possess a well-connected transportation system. This system will witness autonomous vehicles (electrically-powered shared-mobility solutions) communicating with each other as well as smart infrastructures like adaptive traffic signals to create a faster, more sustainable, and more efficient system.
However, to build such a high-tech transportation network, Government frameworks and regulations might have to get amended. As per Dr. Ulrich Koegler, a partner with Strategy&, “Many governments will need to revamp the way they license and regulate vehicles to accommodate smart technologies.”