Sky’s the limit when it comes to visions about the future. In the field of mobility and urban development, there are pretty ambitious future prospects. The most innovative cities around the globe have drafted plans about mobility, transportation and urban infrastructure for the next decades, each with a slightly different approach. Let’s take a look at what those are.

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1. Oslo, Norway – Parking-free city center

Norway plans to have a car-free center for its capital city Oslo sometime in the next decade. When the project started, however, it rose some protests amongst car-driving residents, who did not like the idea of being banned from the center. Ultimately, in order to also ensure the delivery of goods to central businesses, the city decided to, instead of banning cars, ban parking. Oslo aims to remove all on-street parking from the heart of the city, gradually expanding outwards. In the place of parking spots, area will be released for biking and various types of city culture.

2. Grenoble, France – shared electric cars

In 2014, the French city of Grenoble introduced a network of electric, pay-as-you-go vehicles that people can rent, drive and then drop them off at the destination. There are charging and pick-up stations around the city. The aim is to create a multi-modal mobility system, so that residents can complete their trip by using for example an electric car for one leg of the race, bike for another, and public transport for the rest. The project that introduced the electric rental car ran from autumn 2014 for three years, and the future of the connected vehicle in Grenoble remains to be seen.

3. Helsinki, Finland – network of smart transportation

The Finnish capital (where the HQ of ParkMan is also situated!), has plans to move as far as possible away from private car drivership. The plan is to have mobility consist solely of public transportation, on-demand services, rideshares, autonomous vehicles and peer rental systems in the future. The city attempted an on-demand bus service a few years back, but it deemed too expensive for its time, and was not continued. The near future plan is to introduce different mobility options gradually, and have them in full swing by the 2020s.

4. Great City, Chengdu, China – pedestrian-based infrastructure

China has many megalopolises, and besides things like poor air quality, one of the challenges with them is trying to introduce smart solutions that cover a huge infrastructure and a lot of people. The Great City on the outskirts of Chengdu is a pilot project of city structure that doesn’t require cars, but has everything at walking distance. It’s planned to be the first city in China to be devoted to pedestrianism only, although the city will have a mass-transit system that connects it also to other cities. If it turns out to be a success, the Great City is likely to be replicated outside several of the country’s megacities. The cornerstone was laid in 2012, and the city is set to be ready in 2021.

5. Columbus, OH, USA – connected cars and traffic optimization

Columbus won the Smart City Challenge competition for innovative American cities with their plan that aims to “reinvent mobility”. Their winning project is in motion, and consists of introducing autonomous vehicles for commuters, and a fast bus system with its own “smart lane” to facilitate the flow of people and things in the city center. Additionally, the city is developing several different apps that would help optimize the city mobility in terms of shorter and safer routes, available parking and traffic jams, as well as enable paying for all transport services on the same platform.

Cities are getting smart, big time

Now, this is by no means a comprehensive list, because new innovations and changes are taking place everywhere as we speak. Technology today allows cities to dream big – and plan big, too.

A lot of the development is done with two initiatives: to improve the flow of traffic, people and goods, and to reduce the environmental burden by cutting down on emissions. Digital solutions are indeed one big factor in making future cities greener – as we explain also in our post about smart parking and sustainability.

By combining different smart mobility solutions, cities can have all different services under one roof, and optimize cities for a more sustainable, livable and, well, smarter life.

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Main photo by “Sami C from Flickr/CC