2019 Location Trends #2: Reinventing infrastructure

Following the automation of administrative processes and the consumerization of enterprises, the new “physical internet” will provide a holistic and seamless end-to-end ecosystem.

In this context, it is vital for cities and governments to prepare not only technological infrastructure, but also to lay foundations within regulatory frameworks for the deployment of advanced robotic vehicles, on the road and in virtual [air]-ways.

Throughout the 20th century, urban infrastructure has often been optimized with one primary benefactor in mind: the gas-driven car. Now, as traditional means and models of transport continue to decline, existing infrastructure has to adapt in order to serve more technologically advanced and demanding transport replacements. This will provide a holistic and connected end-to-end ecosystem, capable of renewing, rebuilding and reimagining how a city moves and functions.

Atlandes-1800x1049In Saugnac-et-Muret, France, 60m2 of Wattway solar panels have been built into the road surface. In ideal sunny conditions, the tiles generate sufficient energy to run the toll gate. © COLAS.


Growing trends like electric, autonomous, and aerial vehicles require a fundamental overhaul of city facilities and systems. They must now cater to new forms of movement, by responding to emerging transportation paradigms such as Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) and on-demand mobility with multi-modal integration and interoperability. This means public and private mobility providers must collaborate closer with city authorities.

whim-metro-horzWhim is the embodiment of future MaaS. Originally developed for Helsinki, but with hopes to spread around the world, it combines all of the city’s mobility options into a single app, accessible via a monthly subscription. © MaaS Global/Whim


Hamburg, for example, is working together with DriveNow and Car2Go to install an EV charging network that seamlessly integrates with existing public transport.

Highways are also being prepared for the next generation of mobility. Near Paris, the A1 is being reimagined as a continuous interface between the Charles de Gaulle airport and the Porte de Paris, with intermodal stations connecting the highway with dedicated metro, bus, automated vehicle and car sharing lanes.

orga_prog_3_actions-horiz-enIn France, IFSTTAR has launched the 5th Generation Road initiative, to implement innovative solutions for a connected future road network. At a larger scale, the C-Roads Platform is a joint initiative between EU Member States and road operators for testing and implementing C-ITS services to achieve cross-border harmonization and cooperation. IFSTTAR © Jean Chapuis


To keep up with a growing on-demand economy and changing consumer expectations, new urban logistics models are being built upon the decentralization and redistribution of delivery patterns, using new micro delivery hubs.

Kerb Virtual Loading ExtensionGrid Smarter Cities is a smart city ecosystem built around the digitization of physical infrastructure. It allows previously restricted kerbside parking to be reserved and makes physical streets digital to enable efficient road management with financial, social and environmental benefits. © Grid Smarter Cities


The demand for enhanced connectivity and real-time data exchange pushes for new, more flexible cellular infrastructures and equipment. Throughout 2018, carriers raced to install new 5G infrastructure, with T-Mobile installing 5G networks in 30 cities. These will not only be a key enabler for future autonomous transportation, but also for a myriad of other connected services and real-time data sharing.

During this model-transition period, both old and new infrastructure must co-exist. The differing priorities of these models may temporarily lead to competing and more polluting systems. Mitigating the effects of this infrastructure redistribution will be crucial to sustain a postfuel and autonomous society. Governments must work together with the private sector to deploy an adaptable and flexible infrastructure, which is needed to support future forms of living and moving.

What’s next?

In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing similar break-downs of each of the location trends. If you want to download the full report, get in touch with us.

Topics: Location Trends, Editor's Picks

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