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transport policy

Traffic jams, pollution, road crashes: Can technology end the woes of urban transport?

Shomik Mehndiratta's picture
Photo: Noeltock/Flickr
Will technology be the savior of urban mobility?
 
Urbanization and rising incomes have been driving rapid motorization across Asia, Africa, and Latin America. While cities are currently home to 50% of the global population, that proportion is expected to increase to 70% by 2050. At the same time, business-as-usual trends suggest we could see an additional 1 billon cars by 2050, most of which will have to squeeze into the already crowded streets of Indian, Chinese, and African cities.
 
If no action is taken, these cars threaten literally to choke tomorrow’s cities, bringing with them a host of negative consequences that would seriously undermine the overall benefits of urbanization: lowered productivity from constant congestion; local pollution and rising carbon emissions; road traffic deaths and injuries; rising inequity and social division.
 
However, after a century of relatively small incremental progress, disruptive changes in the world of automotive technology could have fundamental implications for sustainability.
 
What are these megatrends, and how can they reshape the future of urban mobility?

Why we were happy when our bosses raised employee parking rates... Or how parking requirements drive modal choice

Shomik Mehndiratta's picture
not everyone is riding these big waves ... yet
not everyone is riding these big waves ... yet

Much of what we read and hear discussed about 'emerging trends' in technology use in education is meant largely for audiences in industrialized countries, or for more affluent urban areas in other parts of the world, and is largely based on observations on what is happening in those sorts of places. One benefit of working at a place like the World Bank, exploring issues related to the use of ICTs in education around the world, is that we get to meet with lots of interesting people proposing, and more importantly doing, interesting things in places that are sometimes not widely reported on in the international media (including some exciting 'innovations at the edges').

We are often asked questions like, "What trends are you are noticing that are a bit 'under the radar'?" In case it might be of interest to wider groups and/or provoke some interesting discussion and comment, we thought we'd quickly pull a list of these sorts of things together here.

Transit-oriented development — What does it take to get it right?

Chyi-Yun Huang's picture

The DM2009 competition, whose theme was adaptation to climate change, especially how it impacts the poor and vulnerable on the local level, would seem to have been the perfect fit for Least Developed Countries (LDCs), especially those in Sub-Saharan Africa.  The poorest countries are expected to pay the highest price of climate change on their human, natural, and economic resources.  With generally weak capacity in regional and national government and infrastructure, they would seem to be well suited for the early-stage, community-focused projects of DM2009.  In fact, criteria for National Adaptation Plans of Action for LDCs give No. 1 ranking to "a participatory process involving stakeholders, particularly local communities."

But the fit proved less than perfect.  The 49 LDCs worldwide produced only 26 of the 100  finalists.  Only four were winners -- two from Sub-Saharan Africa (Burkina Faso and Ethiopia) and one each from Middle East and North Africa (Djibouti) and East Asia and the Pacific (Samoa).  Five finalists were from the most populous LDC -- Bangladesh, in South Asia -- but none of those was a winner.  LDCs Tanzania and Uganda -- two of Sub-Saharan Africa's most populous countries -- had only three finalists between them, none of whom was a winner.

Is it too late for the 22 LDC finalists who didn't pick up crystal globes at the Nov. 13 awards ceremony?  Maybe not.  According to most recent findings, the 49 LDCs globally aren't making enough progress in pinpointing potential local climate adaptation projects. 

What if the 10 LDCs from which the 22 non-winning finalists come took a close look at those projects and considered them for funding in their National Adaptation Plans of Action?  Some DM2009 jurors said they had a tough time choosing winners because all the finalists presented strong entries.

Development Marketplace's decision makers are looking at ways to help all the finalists succeed.  Aleem Walji, Practice Manager at the World Bank Institute, which includes the secretariat for the Development Marketplace consortium and other innovation platforms, said in a mini-interview on this blog: "I think we have a responsibility to try and support this entire community of finalists.  We went from 1,750 applicants to a hundred finalists.  What can we do to connect these hundred finalists to everyone who we know who can help them go forward -- funders, capacity builders, past DM winners, each other."

For themselves, their projects, and their countries, the 20 non-winning finalists from LDCs should keep their hope in their hearts.

Replacing the car with a smartphone… Mobility in the shared economy

Shomik Mehndiratta's picture
An unprecedented number of individuals and organizations are finding ways to explore, interpret and use Open Data. Public agencies are hosting Open Data events such as meetups, hackathons and data dives. The potential of these initiatives is great, including support for economic development (McKinsey, 2013), anti-corruption (European Public Sector Information Platform, 2014) and accountability (Open Government Partnership, 2012). But is Open Data’s full potential being realized?

A news item from Computer Weekly casts doubt. A recent report notes that, in the United Kingdom (UK), poor data quality is hindering the government’s Open Data program. The report goes on to explain that – in an effort to make the public sector more transparent and accountable – UK public bodies have been publishing spending records every month since November 2010. The authors of the report, who conducted an analysis of 50 spending-related data releases by the Cabinet Office since May 2010, found that that the data was of such poor quality that using it would require advanced computer skills. 
 
Data ambassadors wrapping up at
DataDive2013. Photo:
Carlos Teodoro Linares Carvalho.
 
Far from being a one-off problem, research suggests that this issue is ubiquitous and endemic. Some estimates indicate that as much as 80 percent of the time and cost of an analytics project is attributable to the need to clean up “dirty data” (Dasu and Johnson, 2003).
 
In addition to data quality issues, data provenance can be difficult to determine. Knowing where data originates and by what means it has been disclosed is key to being able to trust data. If end users do not trust data, they are unlikely to believe they can rely upon the information for accountability purposes. Establishing data provenance does not “spring full blown from the head of Zeus.” It entails a good deal of effort undertaking such activities as enriching data with metadata – data about data – such as the date of creation, the creator of the data, who has had access to the data over time and ensuring that both data and metadata remain unalterable.

Transforming Transportation for More Inclusive, Prosperous Cities

Jose Luis Irigoyen's picture

The World Bank has been working with the government of Lao PDR to better integrate the country into the regional and global economy since 2006. As the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia, Lao PDR faces a number of barriers to trade. Since beginning to implement reforms in 2008, the country has seen marked improvements in a number of key areas -- culminating in Lao PDR's formal ascension to the WTO last year. The Trade Post spoke with Richard Record, a senior economist based in the Lao PDR country office, about the video. Here's what he had to say...  
 

The Way We Move Will Define our Future

Marc Juhel's picture
Mobility is a precondition for economic growth: mobility for access to jobs, education, health, and other services. Mobility of goods is also critical to supply world markets in our globalized economy. We could say that transport drives development.