Since the beginning of urbanization, mobility has been a key issue and an important motor for growth and progress. In the past, mobility might have stood for the freedom of the people to move around using new means of transportation in growing cities, independent of their place of residence or their place of work. But nowadays, at least in the western world, the linking of traffic and communication is becoming increasingly important as transportation infrastructures are pushed to their limits, demand for alternative means of transport and routes increases and pressure to optimize existing systems grows.
Intelligent traffic planning, the promotion of public transport and the improved interconnectedness of all road users in a city-wide communication infrastructure comprise the mobility characteristics of a smart city. Fewer traffic jams in the inner city and the development of a largely zero-emission public transport system ultimately have a positive impact on the environment and the quality of life in smart cities.
Nowadays, mobility is not just a matter of free movement within a city and the certainty that products and shipments will reach their destination. Mobility today also means that the smart city independently monitors the flow of traffic and reacts flexibly to problems. In addition, mobility can be more customized using the new communication infrastructure. For example, data for smooth movement in the city is made available for everybody, shared and constantly updated. Thereby, a city-wide, open mobility network is created through the permanent exchange of all parties involved for maximum efficiency.
The public transportation system is the lifeline of a smart city. It fills the city with life through a continuous and controlled flow of people and products and carries everybody to his or her destination. In an intelligent city, the development of the public transportation system is promoted because it provides the general public with basic services. If it is expanded city-wide and its efficiency is improved, public transportation make a significant contribution to the reduction of traffic congestion and emissions. The individual can contribute to a more efficient and safer transport system with the help of intelligent traffic routing. Today, there are some smartphone apps on the market that provide drivers with traffic information in real time and other apps use the communication between vehicles and traffic infrastructure or that mediate ad-hoc shared-ride services that contribute to more efficiency and safety on the road. The areas of traffic routing and driver assistance offer even more development opportunities for individual traffic in the areas of information and communication technologies.
In addition, the internet increasingly contributes to mitigating traffic: The dissociation from the concept of the static office space and the increasing acceptance of telecommuting or internet-based cooperative work at different places make many trips superfluous. Trips to the place of work or to meetings are often no longer necessary because employees and especially an increasing number of self-employed persons work from home or in co-working spaces nearby. The great success of online shopping has the same effect on the mobility in smart cities: Trips are no longer necessary for the customer and retail stores require fewer deliveries of goods. If this will compensate the increasing number of deliveries by delivery agents still has yet to be analyzed.