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Industry leaders discuss urban mobility at the EMBARQ conference in Delhi

Francesca Ferrario
23rd Apr 2015
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Urban mobility is a hot topic worldwide, but in emerging markets it is a blasting matter. Enhancing efficiency is as urgent as finding solutions to make the mushroomed transport systems environment friendly. Last year,venture investors worldwide have targeted this sector doubling their investments, which reached the staggering sum of $5.7 billion – more than twice the amount of 2012 and 2013 combined.

In India, the most recent symptoms of this trend are the $400 million raised by Ola and the acquisition of RidingO by Carzonrent. The last decade has witnessed entirely new means of public transport, which in cities has been greatly shaped by the use of apps and collaborative consumption. Both autonomous vehicles and connected cars have seen a widespread growth, while electric engines and new materials have been experimented to address environmental issues.


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An example of how this phenomenon is taking shape in India was the Rikshaw Rising Challenge, jointly supported by EMBARQ India and Shell Foundation, which took place last year in Mumbai.Ubida, Auto Raja, and Three Wheels Unitedwon the final awards.

Last week, the global network for sustainable mobility, EMBARQ, held its annual conference CONNECTKaro in Delhi. At the session on ‘Disrupting Cities for Good’ leaders like Jyot Chadha (Initiative to Catalyze Urban Innovations, EMBARQ India), Ravi Khemani (Founder and CTO, Birdseye Systems), Jeff Olson (Founder, Alta Planning + Design), Greg Moran (Founder, Zoomcar), VaidyAnathan (Founder, Personal Air Quality Systems), and MadhavPai (Director, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities) took the stage to discuss about the recent trends and issues in India’s urban mobility.


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The main challenges in the sector that the panellists’ interventions looked at and the questions from the audience pointed at, wereabout the following:

  • The need for tighter collaboration between governments and entrepreneurs to share comprehensive and big data
  • The lack of clarity in the transport policies and processes in different states
  • The absence of a platform for open and clear interaction between mobility entrepreneurs, investors, and government officials

Nonetheless, JyotChadha from EMBARQ pointed out that an emerging ecosystem is taking shape to support startups by deploying technology, capital, and talent to capture business opportunities.


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The urban mobility future scenario sketched during the event had at its core technology, new materials, and open data. But at the same time, it was also hoped that frugality and simplicity would play a key role. Jeff Olson of Alta Planning+Design underlined the potential of bicycles as a popular means of commuting in the future.

What do you think about the future of urban mobility in India? Leave your comment below!

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