How to Run a City Like Amazon, and Other Fables

What would it be like to live in a city administered using the business model of Amazon (or Apple, IKEA, Uber,…)?  A new book playfully combines speculative fiction and analysis of 38 different business models when applied to running cities of the future.  How to Run a City Like Amazon, and Other Fables, edited by Mark Graham, Rob Kitchin, Shannon Mattern and Joe Shaw, is available in paperback and PDF from Meatspace Press.

My contribution to the book, Cities Need Mass Transit, shows how a highly personalized transportation system envisioned by Tesla and Elon Musk cannot possibly scale to be an effective urban mobility solution.

 

Access without ownership: Mobility as a service

A transport engineer in Helsinki is pioneering the real-world implementation of on-demand mobility services.  [A 24-Year-Old Transport Engineer Is About To Free Her City From Car Ownership.]

Sonja Heikkilä wants to create a sustainable mobility service ecosystem where Helsinki citizens can configure mobility services from a wide range of providers – public, private and shared – via smartphone apps.  In the future, users may be able to purchase monthly mobility plans that are tailored to their activity patterns and needs,  much like current mobile phone voice + data plans.

Helsinki is demonstrating that you can have access without ownership.  The average automobile is stationary and parked for 95% of its existence – a tremendously inefficient use of a valuable mobility resource.  Ownership also leads to overuse and binge mobility.

Social media, location-based services (LBS) and smart cities can help facilitate transportation polycultures that are not only more efficient but more effective and sustainable.  We must use these technologies to cultivate mobility services and collaborative mobility rather than the fight the futile battle of easing congestion through expanding roads and highways.  It has never worked, and it never will.