Transport and Covid-19: responses and resources

Horizon Scan

The Horizon Scan highlights trends likely to impact transport policy and governance. It assesses the scale and scope of potential disruptions, to enable governments to prepare for near- to mid-term challenges.

In 2007, Apple released its first iPhone and an automated vehicle completed the DARPA urban self-driving challenge for the first time. By 2021, more than six billion smartphones were in circulation globally and automated vehicles drove more than 6.5 million kilometres in the US state of California alone.

Both technologies are prime examples for innovations that change the way our societies function. Smartphone technology has enabled countless new services – not least in transport, where it has become an ubiquitous feature of seamless mobility. Automation has enabled functions like lane assist or automated braking making driving safer and easier. Fully self-driving vehicles are closer than ever to become widespread. Other emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence or solid-state batteries hold promise for new solutions to pressing problems. 

To maximise the societal benefits from new technologies, governments themselves must be innovative in responding to rapidly evolving, consequential and sometimes unanticipated developments. Doing so will allow them to manage uncertainty, put in place appropriate regulation and effectively deliver better outcomes for citizens.

The Horizon Scan workstream of the ITF Mobility Innovation Hub helps governments plan and act early to navigate uncertainty. It does so by monitoring trends and driving forces of innovation, by convening and drawing on the collective expertise of experts and stakeholders, and through targeted analytical work. Publically available thematic reports communicate the findings of these scanning exercises.

The first Horizon Scan project reviews the impacts of automation on the urban passenger transport industry’s labour force. It looks at how automation changes working conditions, job security, wages and the tasks performed by urban transport workers. It explores policy options for enabling adoption of automation where it is appropriate, with a view to contribute to better societal outcomes.