Over the next decade, four innovations largely based on existing technologies promise to improve the efficiency, speed, and comfort of travel, transportation, tourism, and trade, according to a new report by the World Economic Forum, produced in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group. The report, Connected World: Hyperconnected Travel and Transportation in Action, is being released today at the Annual Summit of the International Transport Forum in Leipzig.
Based on WEF's Connected World project -- a three-year research initiative involving senior leaders from more than 50 companies from the travel, transportation, and information and communications technology sectors -- the report analyzes four innovations that have strong potential to provide dual benefits to businesses and society. Further, it identifies existing technologies that can help actuate each innovation and presents potential operating models, recommendations for governance structures, and challenges for implementation.
The four innovations are the following:
- An automated check-in, security, border control, and "smart" visa system to ease international traveling difficulties while ensuring high levels of security and traveler privacy. This system harnesses technologies such as biometric-identification scanners and electronic visa procedures to improve efficiency and security. The potential benefits of this system are clear. The report cites statistics that show that improving visa processes in the G-20 could generate an estimated additional $40 billion to $200 billion in tourism receipts in four years, resulting in as many as 5 million new jobs. For airport security, the impact of a more efficient baggage-screening system could potentially reduce the personnel costs of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration by almost $500 million over the next five years, according to the report.
- A condition-based megacity traffic-management system using real-time data collection and analytics to steer or redirect traffic, provide smart-parking capabilities for inner cities, manage public-transportation capacity, and handle congestion and traffic emergencies using dynamic tolling and access restrictions. Individuals would be able to circulate and transport goods efficiently and securely through the megacities of the future. Based on a cost-benefit analysis by WEF and BCG, implementing a comprehensive intelligent-transportation system for a megacity of 10 million would result in a net present value savings of $2 billion to $10 billion, depending on the technology and scope of the system.
- An integrated, proactive, intermodal travel assistant (IPITA) system to select, book, and navigate different modes of travel customized to individual needs, using real-time information and advanced technology. Easy to steer, the tool would use smart devices or other interfaces such as data glasses or contact lenses as displays. The system would detect any changes or disruptions, such as congestion or weather problems, and suggest alternative modes of travel or rerouting in real time. This innovation would help reduce delays that can be costly to individuals -- and that add up to large amounts at the aggregate level. In the U.S., as much as $20 billion in economic activity could be squandered by 2020 because of delays and cancellations at just 12 major airports, according to the report.
- A transparency and traceability optimizer for logistics to streamline cumbersome logistics and customs processes. This system would leverage existing technologies to facilitate greater flow of information among companies and between companies and governments, allowing goods to flow more swiftly, less expensively, and more reliably than they have in the past. In addition, this wide-ranging system would not only optimize inventories but also track emissions, leading to a reduction in the environmental impact of producing and shipping goods. Again, the impact of this innovation can be profound; reducing barriers within the global supply chain could increase worldwide economic activity by almost 5 percent and total trade volume by 15 percent, according to a study cited in the report.
"In years ahead, solutions like IPITA, with real-time updates, customized recommendations, and end-to-end ticketing will become game changers for travelers. There's a great opportunity for the private sector and public agencies to work together to make this a widespread reality," said Margo Georgiadis, president of operations at Google.
Because the technology needed to drive these innovations largely exists, successful implementation hinges on surmounting institutional barriers and forging cooperation between companies and the public sector. In addition, other hurdles persist: each innovation will need to incorporate processes and systems to ensure privacy and resilience against cyber attacks, among other issues. WEF, however, believes that corporate and government leaders working in concert can address those challenges.
In its final year, the Connected World project will focus on building policy dialogue to bring together key stakeholders to accelerate implementation -- which could prove to be a major driver of innovation and make travel, transportation, tourism, and trade more efficient, comfortable, and sustainable by 2025.
"There is great potential in all these solutions to improve the way people and goods move across the globe and within cities," said Nikolaus Lang, a BCG senior partner. "To realize that potential, the relevant stakeholders need to come around the table to work together and bring these solutions to life."
The Connected World project and report form part of WEF's Hyperconnectivity Initiative, which aims to provide insight into how the increasing prevalence and speed of connections around the globe will have an impact on issues such as security, cyber crime, and privacy.
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