What Role Does Mobility Play in Smart Cities?

Urban transportation systems are undergoing an evolution by using mobility and IoT systems to optimize their processes.

Mobility is both the means to and measure of a smart city. Defined by moving people and goods across an urban environment, increasing mobility is a critical objective for cities as they become more populated, congested and further strained by demands on aging infrastructure. Location data is the heartbeat of mobility in smart cities as it connects everything physical to digital. Smart mobility enables people and objects to live, move and interact faster, safer and in a more efficient way than ever before. Forward-thinking cities and governments are looking for advanced location technology to fuel invention and solutions to optimize their cities.

The Personal Device as Part of the Solution

Smartphones have not only changed the way we live but also the way we move. Cities and governments across the world partner with enterprises to create more navigable experiences for people.

For example, when you catch a cab, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes from when you hail it to when it reaches your doorstep. From finding an optimal route to providing a realistic ETA based on current traffic and road conditions to helping the driver navigate — everything is driven by location data and location services.

In addition, anonymized data from personal mobile devices can uncover important insights into the flow of vehicles and pedestrians throughout a city. For example, HERE provides real-time and historical traffic APIs to cities and transportation agencies around the world — which combines data from hundreds of sources including mobile devices and car sensors — for congestion mitigation strategies and smart city planning.

Smart Mobility Uses Cases

Smart mobility is about the science of balancing supply and demand across an urban transportation system. Traffic congestion is the result of too many people using a finite amount of space at a given time. Smart mobility harnesses real-time data to analyze the transportation system as a whole — across all mobility options — to give people the right mode for the right distance, time and price. It’s all about “smoothing” demand. There are many smart mobility scenarios spanning both enterprise and customer that are enabled by location data and location-based services.

A few examples are:

  • Next-generation navigation
  • Autonomous vehicles
  • Last-mile optimization for fleet management
  • Real-time asset tracking for supply chain
  • Precise location for targeting audience in advertising
  • Indoor location capabilities for smart office

A few more examples of new types of mobility services include:

  • Identifying precise customer pick-up and drop-off locations
  • Enabling the addition of extra customer locations to routes and facilitates integration with other transportation modes
  • Calculating the shortest possible route between multiple waypoints and proposing pick-ups and drop-offs to optimize vehicle occupancy
  • Park & Ride capabilities, with options for “early” or “late” parking before the ride, allowing a seamless switch from vehicle to public transport for faster arrivals
  • For hailed rides, notify users about a vehicle location or the selected pick-up point using geofencing
  • Walking instructions to the nearest pick-up location and save significant time with pedestrian routing
  • Informing passengers on accurate pick-up and trip destination ETAs based on real-time data and letting them track drivers on their apps

Outlook for the Future

In the future, people won’t necessarily own cars, but they’ll demand personal mobility. As such, new mobility services will become a necessity. This transformation will be a massive change, but fundamentally, it’s an opportunity. Businesses can put customers at the heart of their organizations and deliver personalized, on-demand services to meet new expectations.

In the near-term, new mobility service providers will generally focus on targeting business improvements that:

  • Deliver new service models to strengthen customer relationships and drive new revenue streams
  • Manage operations and global deployment in a cost-effective way
  • Evolve toward Zero Vision in the mobility industry
  • Create a digitally infused customer experience

In short, location intelligence will continue to shape the future of mobility. 


Mithun Dhar is GM of developer relations for HERE Technologies. The combination of a developer platform like HERE Location Services and the proliferation of IoT devices (and soon connected and automated vehicles), is revolutionizing the way we understand and navigate urban transportation systems. It’s never been easier to access city open data portals and utilize APIs and SDKs from companies like HERE to improve the mobility of residents.