Smart cities are revolutionising urban living by harnessing the power of technology to create sustainable, efficient, and connected environments. As the world becomes increasingly urbanised, cities are facing complex challenges such as population growth, traffic congestion, and environmental sustainability. To address these issues, cities are embracing innovative solutions that leverage digital infrastructure, multimodal integration, and advanced technologies. This article explores the future of smart cities, focusing on the transformation of urban mobility and the implications for the insurance industry.
The Evolution of Smart Cities
Smart cities are built upon a foundation of digital infrastructure that enables seamless connectivity and data-driven decision-making. This infrastructure serves as the backbone for a network of partnerships between public authorities, private companies, and citizens, all working together to create a smarter and more sustainable urban environment. The smart city concept encompasses multiple domains: economy, environment and energy, government and education, living and health, safety and security, and mobility. By addressing challenges across these domains, smart cities aim to enhance the quality of life for their residents and drive economic growth.
Multimodal Integration: The Key to Sustainable Urban Mobility
One of the key pillars of smart cities is multimodal integration, which involves seamless connectivity between different modes of transportation. Mass transport systems, such as bus rapid transit (BRT), light rail, and metro, are more effective when they are integrated with each other and with other "feeder" modes such as taxis, car-sharing, bike-sharing, walking, and cycling. This integration provides first- and last-mile connectivity and maximises the impact of mass transport systems.
Cities that have successfully implemented multimodal integration have seen significant improvements in their transportation networks. For example, Singapore has built a comprehensive infrastructure for BRT, LRT, and MRT, and is working towards becoming a "45-minute city" where people can travel from their homes to their place of work in less than 45 minutes. The city has also collaborated with companies like Bollore to develop an electric car-sharing program, further enhancing its multimodal transportation options.
On the other hand, Istanbul focuses on providing multiple ways for its citizens to travel efficiently. The city has expanded its roads, highways, and bridges, while also experimenting with technologies such as electronic tolling systems and even considering the development of flying cars. By adopting an ecosystem approach, Istanbul is tackling its mobility challenges and improving transportation options for its residents.
Brisbane, Australia is prioritising its mobility infrastructure by developing a new public bus network and investing in high-speed rail links. The city is also embracing new technologies, such as hydrogen fuel cell buses and smart parking systems, to enhance its mobility offerings. Brisbane's focus on data and technology enablement, along with its extensive network of high-frequency buses and multiple modes of public transit, is making the city highly accessible and connected.
The Role of Technology in Smart Mobility
Technology plays a crucial role in enabling smart mobility in cities. Advancements in connectivity, sensor technology, and data analytics are transforming the way people move within urban environments. For example, the advent of 5G mobile spectrum is set to revolutionise the Internet of Things (IoT) and provide the connectivity needed for next-generation vehicle and risk services. This technology will enable vehicles to communicate with each other and the surrounding infrastructure, improving road safety and efficiency.
In addition to connectivity, smart cities are leveraging technology to enhance the user experience and improve transportation services. Real-time information systems provide passengers with up-to-date information on various modes of transportation, including connectivity options, routes, schedules, and fares. Integrated payment solutions, such as smart cards, enable seamless access and payment across different modes of transport. These advancements not only make transportation more convenient for users but also contribute to the overall efficiency and sustainability of the city's mobility system.
The Implications for the Insurance Industry
The transformation of urban mobility in smart cities has significant implications for the insurance industry. As cities adopt new technologies and transportation systems, the insurance market will need to adapt its product offerings and ways of working. One of the key changes is the shift from individually owned cars to shared mobility services and fleet businesses. This shift will lead to a decline in car insurance premiums, as the largest business segment for most motor insurers diminishes.
Insurance companies can explore new business models and develop innovative approaches to address this challenge. Behaviour-based pricing, where premiums are based on driving style or vehicle use, can provide attractive opportunities for policyholders to save. New ecosystem offerings, such as partnering with car manufacturers to provide integrated insurance solutions, can create mutually beneficial partnerships. Multimodal insurance products that cover a range of transportation options, from private cars to borrowed e-scooters, can expand the customer base and provide access to new market segments. On-demand services, such as international insurance or active driver coaching, can cater to the evolving needs of vehicle owners.
Furthermore, technology advancements in smart cities present opportunities for the insurance industry to leverage data and analytics. Vehicle connectivity and telematics can provide insurers valuable insights into driver behaviour and risk assessment. This data can be used to develop personalised insurance products and pricing models. As smart cities generate large volumes of data, insurers can also tap into this data to better understand mobility patterns, traffic congestion, and other factors that impact risk.
Motion-S, a Luxembourg-based, data-driven behaviour analytics solution provider in the mobility ecosystem, is empowering its clients to design and implement new data-driven products and services in smart mobility, insurance, and the automotive industry by collecting, augmenting, analysing, and profiling vast amounts of data from moving vehicles and individuals. The Motion-S mobility analytics platform transforms raw location and car data from smartphones, simple trackers, databases, or car data platforms into actionable insights – providing a deep understanding of individual mobility patterns. Predictive analytics in terms of risk, car health, and eco-efficiency allows fleet managers, insurers, OEMs, smart mobility operators, public authorities, and transportation providers to optimise their offers and improve their value propositions.
Usage-Based Insurance (UBI) trends
As technology and our ability to access and process information in real-time becomes commonplace, UBI has hit the accelerator, with four key trends emerging:
First Notification of Risk (FNOR) solutions
FNOR equates to assessing risk before an accident happens and preventing it from happening in the first place, a big leap ahead from First Notification of Loss (FNOL). The need for these solutions arises from the plethora of data sources and formats that insurers struggle to standardise.
Insurance has always been done reactively, with underwriters analysing past data to forecast costs and premiums. Moving forward, insurers need to assess risk on much more data.
Accelerated claims and payout streamlining
The second major trend in UBI – specifically in the automotive industry – will be accelerated claims, triggered by on-device crash detection systems.
One of the major causes of delayed payments for insurers is deciphering and contacting all parties involved in the crash. In the past, vehicle owners often had to wait weeks to be compensated for the damage. Innovative insurers are settling claims swiftly and efficiently using data to assess the crash site situation. Data can be used to contact emergency services and record the incident, prior to and post-crash. Using AI and ML, insurers can also auto-fill claim forms for policyholders to streamline the process.
Multi-modal profiling of driver behaviour
Although this already takes place to a certain extent – especially in the fleet space – multimodal profiling in the future will have the capacity to track the continuous mobility of the vehicle.
Currently, telematics does provide certain data points that can assess whether a driver has used unsafe practices. But better tracking will provide a wider assessment of behaviour, as an unfortunate incident makes up just a fraction of a driver’s ability and, yet, may critically impact the level and cost of cover they find themselves eligible for. Constant monitoring elevates the general score by putting the bad practices into perspective. This real-time possibility will be increasingly available as 5G networks enable higher volume and greater data transfer capabilities.
UBI represents a far bigger realm of possibility than just a fairer offering for auto insurers. The use of connected devices that are separate from the telematics black box, while still a provider of information for insurers, is on the horizon. The evolution of UBI will see mobile devices being used to place driver journeys in context – for example, an emergency dash might break the speed limit and incur the wrath of your cover provider. But, if that journey was set in the context of a medical emergency, that alters the perspective on why the driver was taking that risk in the first instance.
In short, using multiple data points to create a fuller picture of the driver and their environment helps to better shape the insurance outcomes, both when it comes to the expense of premiums and payouts on claims. However, using multiple data points is still contentious when considering privacy and security.
Hyper-personalised mobility insurance
With the increase in the adoption of ride-sharing, e-bikes, and e-scooters, there has been a subtle shift from predictable, one-dimensional mobility routines, to dynamic usage across multiple transport modes and services. This requires a real-time measure and understanding, on a per-person basis, of which transport modes a policyholder uses and when and how they use them.
Incentivising transit behaviour in smart cities
Connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technology and advanced traffic control systems cannot ensure congestion-free traffic when the number of vehicles exceeds the road capacity.
To address this problem, smart cities are exploring incentive systems to encourage certain modes of transport spanning public transport, private transport and ride-sharing, with reward points able to be redeemed for services from both public transport operators and commercial entities.
Aside from reducing the financial impacts of traffic congestion, smart cities are also seeking a measurable reduction in vehicle emissions as they target climate goals.
The Path Forward: Collaboration and Innovation
The future of smart cities and urban mobility relies on collaboration and innovation. Public authorities, private companies, and citizens must work together to create a multilayered ecosystem that addresses the diverse needs of urban residents. By leveraging technology, data, and partnerships, cities can develop integrated transportation systems, enhance the user experience, and improve overall mobility. The insurance industry, in turn, must adapt to these changes and develop new competencies and business models to remain relevant in the evolving urban landscape.
To navigate this transformation, insurance companies should actively engage with city authorities, technology providers, and other stakeholders to stay informed about the latest developments in smart cities. By participating in public-private partnerships and industry collaborations, insurers can contribute their expertise and shape the future of urban mobility and insurance. Embracing data-driven approaches and innovative solutions will enable insurers to provide personalised, value-added services that meet customers' evolving needs in smart cities.
In conclusion, the future of smart cities is characterised by multimodal integration, advanced technologies, and data-driven decision-making. By transforming urban mobility, cities can enhance the quality of life for their residents, reduce congestion, and improve sustainability. This transformation presents both challenges and opportunities for the insurance industry. By adapting their product offerings, leveraging technology, and collaborating with stakeholders, insurers can play a vital role in shaping the future of smart cities and ensuring the mobility needs of urban residents are met in a sustainable and efficient manner.