Every two years Audi hosts the Audi Urban Future Award (AUFA), which challenges cities from different parts of the world to investigate future mobility trends and come up with innovative solutions. This year AUFA selected Mexico City, Boston, Berlin and Seoul to participate in the challenge and respond to the question: how will data shape mobility in the megacities of the future? These four groups were asked to create a vision for how their city could use data in a strategic way, taking into consideration innovative energy solutions, sustainability, feasibility and the potential for their ideas to be implemented in other cities.
Mexico City’s team took home first place with their “operative system for urban mobility,” which centered around a data platform that cities can use to structure their urban traffic planning. Their system was also based around the idea that citizens themselves can become “data donors” and use the system to make informed decisions on how they move about the city. The team was comprised of architect and urbanist José Castillo, researcher Carlos Gershenson and the city government’s experimental lab “Laboratorio para la Ciudad.”
Learn more about the winning project after the break.
Mexico City currently faces numerous mobility challenges: transportation is slow, commute distances are long and transportation options are scarce. On average it takes a person 1 hour and 21 minutes to travel within the city. In addition, although less than a third of trips are carried out by car, motorized transport accounts for 76% of environmental contamination within the metropolitan area.
Yet despite these statistics, walking and biking are becoming popular transit options, and in a city of 21 million people numerous opportunities remain to be explored.
One of the major problems facing mobility in Mexico City is the scarcity of up-to-date data. A survey from 2007 is the most recent study on mobility in the city, and there is no data showing if mobility patterns have changed since then.
However, in recent years mobility apps have become even more common, and through programs like Google Maps a person can use their phone to find the fastest route for traveling across the city. Because of this ability to obtain accurate information at a low cost and have it frequently updated, the AUFA Mexico team defined data acquisition as one of their main project tasks.
AUFA Mexico’s project, "Living Mobilities," consists of collecting data from the greatest number of sources possible, including companies and urban infrastructure, with an emphasis on information that citizens can contribute voluntarily.
These citizens and companies are called “data donors,” and their help makes it possible to not only know how a city is moving at a specific time, but also to predict what will be happening in the city in the near future. The idea is to create a collective data base that would be available online through “Laboratorio para la Ciudad” and provide free and open access to anyone who is interested.
The “data donors” would be able to anonymously share their daily routes, including their average speed, preferred method of transportation and the advantages and disadvantages of their daily decisions. In addition, “data donors” could also share their future schedules and plans so that citizens can make informed decisions based on what city traffic will be like on a specific day.
The prototype of the Mexico City Operative System would require lots of data in order to provide useful information and allow citizens to make smart decisions regarding their routes. If the system is able to become more complex through an abundant and constant influx of data, the information would not only help citizens make informed decisions on a daily basis, but would also aide in long-term decision making such as whether to accept a new job or rent a new apartment, reducing the amount of time, money and stress spent on a daily basis.
The system would also create greater interaction between citizens and their city: up-to-data information might influence some to leave their car at home, rent an apartment on the city outskirts or contribute mobility data on a regular basis.
Eventually, after years of use and informed decision-making, Mexico City's current mobility system could be transformed, as the average citizen becomes part of the larger data network and starts making informed and efficient transportation decisions.