We live in a world of speed and movement. Everything evolves and transforms so quickly that we have grown accustomed to a permanent state of temporariness, as if our lives were standing by for the next update. It is a sign of the times. The medium (in this case Internet and the unstoppable flow of information that inundates us) has become the message, in accordance with the famous aphorism of scientist and communication theorist Marshall McLuhan. Everything changes and nothing is permanent, as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus would say. Only now the transformation happens immediately.
Mobility is one of the great trends of the 21st century, in which cities have become the great meccas of knowledge and human exchange. Notwithstanding the shock unleashed by the first pandemic in a truly globalised world, movement is unstoppable and represents a challenge for the governance of territories and the health of the planet. The term “mobility” refers to the movement of people and goods, in the aggregate, that takes place in a physical environment. When we talk about urban mobility, we refer to the ensemble of comings and goings that occur in the city. Such movement relies on varying means and systems of transport: cars, public transport … but also walking and cycling. And all with a clear objective: to bridge the distance that separates us from the places where we can satisfy our desires and needs.
The mobility of the future is strongly linked to sustainability and environmental conservation. In this context the advantages offered by 5G communications are crucial. A vehicle that is permanently connected to its surroundings (road, traffic lights, other vehicles, etc.) means safer and more efficient mobility. It is an increasingly near future that will be possible thanks, among other things, to the low latency guaranteed by 5G, all but doing away with response time lag in the event of, say, a possible collision.
MEC (Mobile Edge Computing) technology marks a quantum leap that will accelerate the arrival of the connected and autonomous car. The idea is simple. Resources such as storage space, databases and information processing stay close to the entity that will require them, so there is no need for data to travel to a distant server (“the cloud”), reducing latency, clearing unnecessary traffic from the major networks and preventing information loss when saturation occurs.
The possibilities are enormous. The automotive industry is preparing for the paradigm shift that will revolutionise the sector and herald a new concept of mobility. NextGenerationEU funding can act as a catalyst. For cities, entering this new era will require a wholesale rethinking of public transport systems. We will be able to see buses, trams and autonomous mobility platforms of every sort synchronising their itinerary based on what is unfolding around them, ensuring maximum passenger safety and comfort. The speed of data processing will also fundamentally change the way we move. Readiness is of the essence.