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Ushering in the fourth industrial revolution for Smart Cities

How we live, work, move and experience the world around us is rapidly changing. Working as part of the Global Future Cities Programme (GFCP) we've explored cutting-edge global mobility trends to see how smart cities could transform daily travel for millions of city dwellers.

Setting the scene

In 2015, the UK Government established the Prosperity Fund to help promote economic growth in developing countries. As part of this, the Global Future Cities Programme (GFCP) provides technical assistance for a number of targeted interventions that encourage sustainable development and increase prosperity, while alleviating high levels of urban poverty.

Building on our existing work on what technological innovation means for cities globally, we worked closely with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) in South Africa and the City of Johannesburg to provide insights about how technology can improve urban mobility in both developed and developing world cities. Our report explores the future of mobility alongside emerging technology classified as part of the “fourth industrial revolution” (4IR).

How we helped

4IR is defined as a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. Typical examples include Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). 

We identified five key 4IR trends shaping mobility today, with a focus on how emerging technology is shaping the business-as-usual of passenger transport, freight and other forms of mobility. 

  • Rise of Automation reflecting the growing trend of autonomous vehicles and other robotic devices operating without direct human control or oversight, with risks of job losses and safety concerns.
  • Intelligent and Connected Systems optimising processes for communicating and sharing data across wider networks, yet also introducing a host of data and cyber security risks that require further technological solutions.
  • Electrification for Greener Transport leading to a rise in electric vehicle uptake, with the demand for electric charging infrastructure crucial to recognise and incorporate into city planning.
  • The Sharing Economy expanding the range of shared, as-needed mobility options, though, accessibility and affordability remain key concerns to ensure inclusion.
  • A Responsive and Evolving Enabling Environment supporting all the above, to effectively respond to, and promote, the development and adoption of 4IR mobility technologies.
Louise Farrar

“The onus is now on cities’ governing bodies, and their partners, to embrace the tech-driven transformation we are witnessing and to implement technologies that will enhance service delivery for all users, and push the boundaries on what a safe, clean, and agile mobility system can achieve.”

Ian Milborrow, Partner, Net Zero, Cities & Innovation

Making a difference

4IR technologies have the potential to transform daily travel for millions of city dwellers as well as address supply chain inefficiencies, with benefits for inclusion and productivity. We were able to develop a shared understanding of the global 4IR mobility landscape and what this may mean for cities across the world. 

We are proud to support the GFC programme’s vision of broad-based and inclusive growth needed for poverty reduction to make development sustainable. Our five key trends will inform planning and implementation strategies for cities’ futures across the world for years to come.

Contact us

Annual Report enquiries

Corporate Affairs, PwC United Kingdom

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