Technology Development in General and Innovation Diffusion


Driver description
Interactions with the Technology Domain
Interactions within the Social Domain
Interactions with the Economy Domain
Interactions with the Environment Domain
Impacts on Mobility and Transport

Driver description

  • “Over the last 50 years the pace of innovation and technological change has accelerated consistently. The time needed for basic inventions to enter mass use has steadily decreased. Cycles of technology-induced societal and economic change are becoming faster. And cycles of innovation and technology change are very likely to accelerate further. The history of technological progress provides compelling evidence that change is not linear but exponential (Kurzweil, 2001). The dynamics will increasingly come from the convergence of sciences and technologies: This acceleration technological change will also affect economic sectors that have been slower to change in the past, notably energy and transport.” (Ref: CO_0274)
Figure 1‑75 Shortening time lapse before mass adoption of new technologies


Source: The European environment State and outlook 2010 – Assessments of megatrends (Ref: CO_0274)

  • “The general acceleration of innovation and technological change is a stable trend. But the concrete direction and speed of innovation and diffusion is very uncertain.” (Ref: CO_0274)
  • “The processes of creating, owning and sharing knowledge are changing in a highly interlinked world; any outlook is fraught with considerable uncertainties. For example, open access to information will continue to empower bottom-up innovation processes, opening new routes for knowledge creation. But private battles may arise, with access to information and user rights becoming more fiercely contested by corporate and private interests.” (Ref: CO_0274)
    • “(...) range of drivers for innovation:
    • Costs with the increasing price of oil;
    • Material scarcity and security of supply;
    • Capital investment flows being globalised;
    • Demand led growth by the Third world with massive energy and resource pressures;
    • Customers with significant consumer interest but little informed knowledge;
    • Population growth and the aging demographic;
    • Loss of habitat and biodiversity.” (Ref: CO_5011)
  • “The importance of services for the economy has increased steadily over time in most OECD countries. Especially important in this development are knowledge intensive business services (KIBS[1]) which have become increasingly important over time as sources of innovation, technologies and as inputs for the whole economy.” (Ref: CO_0239)
  • “The need to create and implement innovation in transport results from the continuing low efficiency of many of its technical elements and processes, leading to unsatisfactory levels of productivity, capacity and reliability, waste of time and resources, and higher operating costs. Another reason behind the search of new solutions in transport is the necessity to improve its relations with the world outside by greater accessibility in time and space, better quality of service and lower environmental impact.” (Ref: CO_5065)
  • “A number of key influences are driving a process of accelerating technological change in land transportation. Traffic congestion is encouraging new technologies to be adopted in traffic management. Concerns about traffic safety are leading to a consideration of new technologies, particularly road design and automated vehicle control. The availability and price of crude oil is encouraging research and development on fuel economy, the use of alternative fuels, and the development of fuel cell-powered engines. Air pollution problems in urban areas are encouraging the development of technologies to reduce harmful emissions, and concerns about global warming are further adding to the search for low-emission transportation. These concerns are also reflected in the adoption of new regulatory policies by governments in such areas as fuel standards and fuel economy standards for new motor vehicles.” (Ref: CO_0272)
  • “As we move forward, solutions to many transportation challenges will increasingly depend on innovation.” (Ref: CO_0284)
  • “It is clear that innovation is indispensable to the transport sector as it seeks to improve performance and better meet the needs of users.” (Ref: CO_0284)
  • “Today’s innovation landscape shows an increasing shift from technology-push policies towards demand-pull policies. Promoting applications, user-driven innovation, innovation in services and in the public sector and addressing societal challenges have increasingly shaped the innovation policy agenda.” (Ref: CO_5053)
  • “Innovation means more than research and development. While R&D is important, innovation also includes the application of new ideas, policies and practices in ways that bring about improvements in overall processes. Technology has an important role to play in improving transport. But “soft” innovations – such as changes to policy and practices – are equally important. In many instances, the most effective innovations involve putting in place policy options that have long been seen as best practices; examples include more direct charging of road users, innovative funding mechanisms, road safety measures, traffic management and parking policies, among others.” (Ref: CO_0293)
  • “Many promising technological solutions are already available or could be available in a short time but are being poorly implemented.” (Ref: CO_0274)

[1] KIBS are defined as computer and related activities, R&D and other business services.

Interactions within the Technology Domain

New vehicles design

  • “Transport technology innovations might include further changes in vehicle design, propulsion systems and energy sources to address congestion, carbon emissions and safety.” (Ref: CO_5018)
  • “(...) in China (...) the number of e-bikes has grown from near-zero levels ten years ago, thanks to technological improvements and favourable policy. Improvements in e-bike designs and battery technology made them desirable, and the highly modular product architecture of electric two-wheelers (E2Ws) resulted in standardization, competition and acceptable pricing.” (Ref: CO_0246)
  • One of the biggest obstacles for such (groundbreaking) technologies is called “path dependency”, which refers to innovations that make resulting products incompatible with existing infrastructure. Electric vehicles, for example, cannot use existing fuelling infrastructure, creating a competitive disadvantage against ICE-powered vehicles. Carbon fibre can dramatically reduce vehicle weight, but it cannot be used in traditional tooling, and recycling and cost issues also need to be resolved. (Ref: CO_0019)
Figure 1‑76 The “S Curve” Technology Deployment Challenge


Source: Repowering transport (Ref: CO_0019)

Advanced driving devices

  • “Eco-driving is gaining widespread recognition as a low cost method of reducing vehicle fuel consumption without the need for vehicle technology improvements.” (Ref: CO_0247)

Traction technologies

  • “Scientific advances will not reach the industrial/commercial scale at the pace expected. Consequently, the penetration of electric/hybrid and fuel-cell driven cars will be slow.” (Ref: CO_0077)
  • “In particular, costs, parallel development of electric-drive systems, onboard fuel storage and refuelling infrastructure challenges are likely to impede hydrogen fuel cells from becoming a competitive propulsion system in the near term and perhaps for another decade or more. Moreover, industry has no clear development path and seems to be moving in several different directions. Urban transit buses are serving as an important testing ground for fuel-cell buses.” (Ref: CO_0272)
  • “Battery electric vehicles have a potentially greater energy savings potential, but battery technology and cost must improve substantially to provide the performance and range demanded by consumers.” (Ref: CO_0049)
  • “(...) for heavier vehicles such as long-haul trucks, planes and ships, for example, the energy density and range limitations of batteries are likely to prevent significant market penetration until additional advances are made in lightweight, energy-dense battery (or other energy storage) technology.” (Ref: CO_0246)
  • “Major breakthroughs in battery technology, hydrogen storage concepts and fuel-cell technology (methanol/ethanol fuel types possible) will lead to faster penetration of electric/hybrid and fuel-cell.” (Ref: CO_0077)

Traffic management systems

  • “Current wireless applications for transport include travel and communication applications through third and fourth generation cell phones, GPS navigation systems, on-board safety equipment and electronic tolling systems. The next generation of technologies now being developed will bring together the advances in automotive engineering and IT on the one hand with the availability of high capacity wireless linking to and from moving vehicles.” (Ref: CO_0284)
  • “The new high capacity wireless solutions potentially hold a wide range of (...) benefits, for instance in road safety, traffic and demand management.” (Ref: CO_0284)
  • “Wireless technology is progressively being integrated into vehicles and transport infrastructure. The essence of the wireless revolution is the fitting of transmitter/receiver units to vehicles and widespread coverage of infrastructure to enable two-way communication between a vehicle and its infrastructure or between a number of vehicles.” (Ref: CO_0284)
  • “Improved micro-simulation tools have been developed to support the assessment of road traffic schemes and the optimisation of urban traffic control in real time. (...). In the future, the use of distributed computing is expected to speed up the simulations further, making them a useful tool across realistic road networks.” (Ref: CO_0289)

Information systems

  • “Information & Communication Technology (ICT) is in many reports regarded as a very important technology enabler, both regarding safety and efficiency e.g. logistic applications and sustainable management systems.” (Ref: CO_0058)
  • “Technology is expected to contribute a great deal to the improvement of the safety record of road transport.” (Ref: CO_0077)
  • “A wider deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems that can detect incidents, support traffic supervision, and provide information to road users in real time will considerably improve traffic safety.” (Ref: CO_0077)
  • “Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) represent the integration of information and communications technology with transport infrastructure, vehicles and users. The objective of ITS is to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of transport networks, improving safety and reducing environmental impacts.” (Ref: CO_0049)
  • “Another important aspect of technological development in the transport sector is that construction and operation of transportation systems is being transformed by computers, sensors, and communications technology, collectively called information technology (IT).” (Ref: CO_5048)
  • “The evolution of mobile communication networks to 4G and beyond will deliver continuous connectivity to vehicles and travellers, giving access to on-line services via mobile Internet links.” (Ref: CO_0261)
  • “Wireless technologies will also enable automotive manufacturers and the ITS industry to provide a range of new products and services to road users.” (Ref: CO_0284)
  • “The idea of cooperative systems is to have vehicles connected via continuous wireless communication with the road infrastructure on motorways (and possibly other roads), and to “exchange data and information relevant for the specific road segment to increase overall road safety and enable cooperative traffic management. The basic innovation of cooperative systems is that intelligent transport tools, both in infrastructure and on vehicles, are active and “cooperate” in order to perform a common service. Consequently, in cooperative systems, communication can be Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) or Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I). (a) Vehicle to Vehicle communication: can be defined as the cooperative exchange of data between vehicles through wireless technology in a range that varies between a few meters to a few hundred meters, with the aim of improving road safety, mobility, efficiency and improving the use of road capacity. b) Vehicle to Infrastructure communication: can be defined as wireless cooperative interaction, between vehicles and infrastructure, based on systems that can improve safety and performance on roads.” (Ref: CO_0281)

Booking and payment system

  • “Regardless, other than flat fare, all other fare structures require a more sophisticated fare collection technology. However, fare collection technologies’ costs have lowered in recent years.” (Ref: CO_0163)

Pollution abatement and monitoring

  • “For any single technology, marginal costs are likely to increase with the extent of abatement in the short term, as the types of land, labour and capital most suitable for the specific technology become scarcer. The rate of increase is likely to differ across regions, according to the constraints faced locally.” (Ref: CO_2024)
Figure 1‑77 Illustrative marginal abatement option cost curve


Source: STERN REVIEW: The Economics of Climate Change (Ref: CO_2024)

  • “Policy should therefore ensure that abatement efforts at the margin also intensify over time. But policy-makers should also spur on the development of technology that can drive down the average costs of abatement.” (Ref: CO_2024)

Energy efficiency

  • “Technological solutions are aimed at reducing the negative impact per car and per kilometre. Examples include increasing the energy efficiency of cars and developing new forms of road surface to reduce the level of traffic noise. Such solutions do not appear to sufficiently reduce the problems of car use, such as to make it compatible with sustainability (e.g., OECD,1996).” (Ref: CO_0042)
  • “The developments in the energy sector over the next 30 years depend crucially on the role of some key technologies and fuels on both the demand and the supply side.” (Ref: CO_2019)
  • “Technical progress generally leads to improved energy efficiency in technology such as lights, vehicles, refrigerators, and manufacturing processes.” (Ref: CO_0105)
  • “Improving vehicle fuel economy and average fleet fuel economy is influenced by both technical advanced and consumer choices. On the technical front, factors include vehicle size, vehicle weight and power train characteristics (e.g. engine displacement, transmission type, fuel type, engine aspiration type and engine power).” (Ref: CO_0185)
  • “The brake system must be able to recuperate energy. By pure friction braking, normally a high amount of energy is dissipated into heat and cannot be used within the vehicle anymore. By an intelligent solution part of this energy can be recycled, using the electric motor(s) as generator(s). By these means, a longitudinal motion control for optimized energy consumption in an electric vehicle is feasible.” (Ref: CO_0058)

Interactions with the Social Domain

Population aging

  • “Demography used to be amongst the easiest part of the future to understand. We now know it is just as unpredictable as everything else. There are two key drivers, life expectancy and fertility decline. The amazing story on life expectancy is the leap that we’ve experienced. This is due to technologies as well as ideas – public health ideas like understanding that smoking causes cancer and that wearing seatbelts is safer.” (Ref: CO_0284)

Income structure and distribution

  • “(...) it can be argued that ICT has a leverage effect on existing types of social inequality.” (Ref: CO_2018)
  • “Many will have doubts about the assertion that a technology so appropriate to distribute unprecedented amounts of free information and understandable knowledge among the mass of the population would contribute to rising social inequality. Yet this can be shown and explained, provided that one considers ICT as a technology that is able to reinforce the position of some people in societal competition and weaken that of others. So this concerns relative inequality and much less absolute inequality: the complete inclusion or exclusion of access to computers and the Internet.” (Ref: CO_2018)
  • “Considering physical new media access income still plays a role caused by the regular expenses for purchase of new hardware and software and usage costs that have to be made.” (Ref: CO_2018)

Gender roles

  • “(...) improvements in ICT technology have allowed women (and men) around the world to access markets in growing numbers by lowering information barriers and reducing the transaction costs associated with market work. Because time and mobility constraints are more severe for women than men, women stand to benefit more from these developments.” (Ref: CO_0161)


  • “<The convergence between cities and other areas will grow as we start to spend time in ‘virtual cities’>. Guy Summers, R&D Collaboration Manager, Vodafone.” (Ref: CO_5018)
  • “Employees may use teleworking to move further from their worksite, for example, choosing a home or job in a rural area or another city because they know that they only need to commute two or three days a week. This may increase urban sprawl.” (Ref: CO_5047)

Change of lifestyle and values

  • “(...) the impact of technology on society and, conversely, the way technological development is driven by societal changes, are highly relevant themes within the European decision-making context.” (Ref: CO_2015)
  • “Telework refers to the use of electronic communication to substitutes for physical travel, including commuting, business activities and errands such as shopping and banking.“ (Ref: CO_5047)
  • “The number of commuters and the associated distances travelled will fall sharply as people will tend to live closer to their jobs and/or make greater use of information technology.” (Ref: CO_0077)
  • “Many jobs and errands involve information-related goods suitable for telework, but the actual portion of trips reduced by telework tends to be small. Many trips require access to special materials and equipment, or face-to-face meetings, even if their primary good is information that can be transmitted electronically.” (Ref: CO_5047)
  • “(...) there is a resistance to change, and vested interest in existing systems and practices. Individuals and companies are often unwilling to pay for innovations that will bring forward improvements, in some instances because the benefits are widely shared, but the costs must be borne by individuals and firms. There is also a more emotional adherence to the status quo in some instances. For example, drivers do not want to see limitations on their control of vehicles, despite that fact that driver error is a major cause of crashes.” (Ref: CO_0293)
  • “More significant changes in consumer behaviours will be needed to accelerate the transition to advanced technology vehicles.” (Ref: CO_0154)
  • “By 2030, urban mobility will have changed due to socio-demographic evolution (ageing and immigration), urbanization, the increase of energy costs, the implementation of environmental regulations, and the further diffusion of sophisticated Information and Communication Technology (ICT) applications in virtually all aspects of life.” (Ref: CO_0077)
  • “People lifestyle and behaviour (...) tends towards individualism with an emphasis on consumerism, self-interest and a positive view of technology.” (Ref: CO_5048)
  • “A few areas of instrumental consumption have seen a massive shift to online transaction, which to some extent has replaced brick-and-mortar retailing. Examples include consumer financial services, travel services, recorded music, and computer software. (...) In consumer behaviour there is a shift towards consumption at home (“domestication“) and the integration of consumption in other everyday activities. The supply of local, personalised products and services reflects the demand for such products and services by consumers, who increasingly value niche-products and markets.” (Ref: CO_2018)
  • “Innovations always rely on acceptance and a spirit of enterprise.” (Ref: CO_0284)
  • “Innovation is not only about technology. It has also a soft side. Caring for one's passengers, clients, employees and their needs helps in identifying innovative solutions and new business opportunities. Service orientation is a must.” (Ref: CO_0284)

Interactions with the Economy Domain

GDP Trends

  • “(...) a key driver of (...) growth has definitely been innovation.” (Ref: CO_0155)
  • “(...) innovation leads to permanent increases in per capita GDP.” (Ref: CO_0156)
  • “The positive relationship between countries' own R&D and productivity growth has been also confirmed by studies using international panel data.” (Ref: CO_0156)
  • “For most of the period between 2000 and 2009, the share of R&D expenditure in GDP remained fairly stable for the EU as a whole at between 1.8 and 1.9 %. In 2008 and 2009 R&D expenditure improved slightly.” (Ref: CO_0197)
  • “The economic downturn will delay the development of necessary technology.” (Ref: CO_0077)
  • “Public and private bodies will only take measures to adapt infrastructure if absolutely necessary. The pace of introduction of new and intelligent technologies for the protection of vulnerable road users will slow down.” (Ref: CO_0077)
  • “The long-term outlook for economic growth in any economy is dependent, to a degree, on technological progress. When advances in technology are linked to investment, it is the quality of such an investment that drives growth.” (Ref: CO_0178)
  • “(the) ...rates of productivity growth and technology growth are interrelated. In other words, in scenarios of high macroeconomic productivity growth as reflected in per capita incomes (...), the productivity of resource use (e.g., energy, agricultural land) and rates of technological innovation are also high.” (Ref: CO_0003)
  • “Innovation is a key driver of economic growth and increasing welfare (...).” (Ref: CO_0274)
  • “Investing in the right technologies, research and business practices will support global trade and competitiveness. The use of innovative products, services and processes can help make businesses more efficient and industries more resilient, even in tough economic times.” (Ref: CO_0284)
  • “(Information) technology will be more successful than expected at breaking the historical correlation between energy consumption and GDP.” (Ref: CO_0077)
  • “The most important factor behind the wealth of nations is technical progress.” (Ref: CO_0299)


  • “Although science and technology developments have an impact on the labour market, they cannot be regarded solely as drivers: in the labour market system we find a process of co-evolution and thus clear cause and effect is not present.” (Ref: CO_2030)
  • “As the implementation of ICT has generally been accompanied by a restructuration of organizational processes, the division of labour has been affected by ICTs (= applications of ICT) (...).” (Ref: CO_2018)
  • “Since labour productivity is assumed to continue to grow following past trends, there is an implicit assumption that new technologies will continue to be developed.” (Ref: CO_5009)
  • “It is obvious that in the ICT branch, a lot of new jobs have been created. However, e.g. within automation projects, there are also examples of job losses as results of ICT implementation.” (Ref: CO_2018)
  • “Competition and innovation have positively impacted on the transport labour market. However, transport workers in some sectors may be displaced from their jobs as a result of the adjustment to a radically different economic and energy context. It is important to ensure that such change is well anticipated and managed, so that changing conditions will also be a source of new jobs and that transport workers can participate in, and respond to, the process.” (Ref: CO_0015)

Market regulations

  • “(...) there is no clear connection between pricing mechanisms and the supply of infrastructure, which can lead to misaligned incentives and rent-seeking behavior. Within the contracting process for services and infrastructure there is often a focus on lowest costs, as opposed to performance, which does not induce innovation either.” (Ref: CO_0293)

Foreign trade, globalisation

  • “Because of advances in communications and transport technology, the notion of markets is more global.” (Ref: CO_5028)
  • “Efforts to accelerate basic technological development cycles are driven by better access to information and increasing scientific cooperation, building upon continued economic growth and trade.” (Ref: CO_0274)

Energy availability and prices

  • “Technology development is likely to concentrate on increasing efficiency to compensate for higher fuel prices.” (Ref: CO_2057)
  • “<By 2040, the grid will be different: we will be burning electrons rather than hydrocarbons. Those electrons will be greener, so there will be a lot more renewable energy generation> Gordon Feller, Director of Urban Innovations at Cisco Systems.” (Ref: CO_5018)

Interactions with the Environment Domain

Climate change impacts

  • “Innovation (...) can contribute directly and indirectly to damaging or improving the environment.” (Ref: CO_0274)
  • “Innovation can also play a key role in achieving goals relating to sustainability (...). For example, efforts are increasingly focused on improving efficiency, safety and security, as well as on reducing environmental impacts.” (Ref: CO_0284)
  • “Vehicle technology has performed a key role in reducing environmental impacts from transport in the last decades, particularly in road transport.” (Ref: CO_5030)
  • “Technology also has a vital role to play in adaptation. (...).” (Ref: CO_2024)
  • “[Technology] will greatly improve human abilities to understand and monitor environmental change and develop problem-solving strategies.” (Ref: CO_0274)
  • “Improvements to design, materials and construction techniques can improve the resilience of infrastructure and urban development. Scientific and technological progress that improves the quality of climate predictions and weather forecasts will enable more effective adaptive responses to climate change.” (Ref: CO_2024)
  • “A step change is needed in the pace and scale of low-carbon energy technology development and deployment across all sectors. Global climate change goals cannot be achieved without all technologies in the low-carbon portfolio making a full contribution.” (Ref: CO_0154)
  • “While new technologies are an indispensable part of any strategy to address problems of global environmental change, previous experiences with technological fixes show the possibility of simply shifting the source of the problem and creating new problems along the way. However, the legal requirement to apply the precautionary principle in the EU helps manage potentially harmful technologies and stimulate smarter, less threatening innovations.” (Ref: CO_0274)
  • “(...) technology does not, by itself, reduce environmental impacts.” (Ref: CO_5009)

GHG mitigation

  • “The new high capacity wireless solutions potentially hold a wide range of societal (...) benefits, for instance (...) pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions reduction.” (Ref: CO_0284)
  • “Medium term mitigation potential for CO2 emissions from the aviation sector can come from improved fuel efficiency, which can be achieved through a variety of means, including technology, operations and air traffic management.” (Ref: CO_0146)
  • “Opportunities for realising GHG reductions in the building sector exist worldwide. However, multiple barriers make it difficult to realise this potential. These barriers include availability of technology, financing, poverty, higher costs of reliable information, limitations inherent in building designs and an appropriate portfolio of policies and programs.” (Ref: CO_0146)
  • “(...) technology (is) an important driver (...). Rates of technological change are critical across all sectors, as well as for both demand and supply aspects that together determine future GHG emission levels. (Ref: CO_0003)
  • “Policy to reduce emissions should be based on three essential elements: carbon pricing, technology policy, and removal of barriers to behavioural change.” (Ref: CO_2024)

Noise abatement and emission standards

  • “Since January 2002 a noise reduction bonus is encouraging infrastructure users to employ low-noise rolling stock in Switzerland. To qualify for the bonus, advanced brake technology must be used (composite blocks, disc brakes or comparable).” (Ref: CO_0151)
  • “In the case of speed humps, they also transmit frequent and sometimes severe shocks through the road surface, causing long-term damage to the infrastructure and nearby buildings.” (Ref: CO_0274)

Pollution levels and emissions standards

  • “How can sustainable mobility then be achieved? The answer lies in the further development and mass application of safe and clean technologies. The introduction of the three-way catalyst has thus far contributed most to reducing air pollution from cars. All sorts of safety techniques – both on vehicles and roads – have effectively reduced fatalities and injuries. New technologies will be developed and some are waiting for mass introduction. However, making transport much safer and cleaner cannot be left to market forces. Strong policies are required, of which setting and enforcing strict standards and a variety of financial incentives are the most important. These new technologies will impose additional costs to travelling. These costs need to be accepted as the price for making mobility sustainable.” (Ref: CO_2046)
  • “The mitigating effects of new technologies tend to be overshadowed by the continuing growth of car use. Whereas new technologies are capable of substantially reducing various emissions, other sustainability problems such as urban sprawl and accessibility are rooted in a wider complex of causes for which new technology, per se, is not a solution. For example, energy-efficient cars may help control environmental problems, but will hardly solve accessibility problems.” (Ref: CO_0042)

Energy availability, production and consumption

  • “The second driving force for discontinuity in energy patterns is technology. A technology that offers superior or new qualities, even at higher costs, can dramatically change lifestyles and related energy use.” (Ref: CO_5048)
  • “Transportation patterns and technology choices also require a balanced approach that recognises both the human and technological dimensions of energy consumption.” (Ref: CO_0154)

Scarce resources of raw materials

  • “Development of new technology is a driver for a more sustainable exploitation of the world’s resources.” (Ref: CO_5048)
  • “Europe relies heavily on the rest of the world for non-renewables, and increasingly some of these non-renewables — such as fossil fuels or rare earth metals used in information technology products — are becoming difficult to source cheaply, if at all, often for geo-political as much as supply reasons. Such trends make Europe vulnerable to external supply shocks that may result from an over-reliance on non‑renewables.” (Ref: CO_0141)
  • “Encouraging and supporting R&D and innovation for substitutes, better recycling techniques and sustainable production (material efficiency) are all of key importance in tackling the relative shortage of raw materials in the EU manufacturing sector.” (Ref: CO_0239)
  • “The pace of technological innovation needed to sustain economic growth under higher resource prices and possible larger disruptions is uncertain, as is the stability of financial markets.” (Ref: CO_0274)

Impacts on Mobility and Transport

The bi-directional relation between technology and transport

  • “Technological innovation will be a major contributor to the solution of the transport challenges. New technologies will provide new and more comfortable services to passengers, increase safety and security and reduce the environmental impacts.” (Ref: CO_0015)
  • “Transport demand can be considered driven by social relations and economic activities, as well as by technology, but transport also drives activities and technologies.” (Ref: CO_5048)

Increasing demand for fast mode of transport

  • “(...) the main driver of the growth in passenger travel is the increase in average speed. (...) this shift to faster transport modes in its turn is caused by different forces. The first is technological improvements” (Ref: CO_2046)
  • “Historically, innovation in transport has been about getting from A to B faster (...).” (Ref: CO_0284)
  • “Each travel mode has become faster, cheaper and more comfortable by innovations such as the internal combustion engine, airplanes and building motorway networks. Note, however, that since the first flight with an aircraft in the beginning of the 20th century, no major technical breakthroughs have occurred in the transport field. Trains, cars, planes and related infrastructures are not new technologies. It is true, however, that these “old” technologies have been improved tremendously by e.g. mass-production, new materials and lately by the break-through of new information and communications technology and applications.” (Ref: CO_2046)
  • “But (...) speed will not play the same role tomorrow as it did yesterday. Average transportation speed is now close to the maximum and will be very difficult to increase. Also, there appear to be little gains from further improving speed while the cost of energy is rising.” (Ref: CO_0284)

Mileage per capita

  • “During the Twentieth Century, technological innovations significantly improved motor vehicle performance (power, speed, safety and reliability) which increased vehicle travel. Automobiles are now relatively safe, reliable, and can exceed legal speed limits. In recent decades most vehicle innovations have improved convenience and comfort (navigation systems, quieter vehicles, better sound systems, and more cupholders). Many newer technological improvements improve alternative modes or allow more efficient road and parking pricing, which are likely to reduce vehicle travel. Table below categorizes technologies according to their vehicle travel impacts. More new technologies are likely to reduce than increase vehicle travel.” (Ref: CO_5047)
Figure 1‑78 Travel impacts of new transport technologies



Source: The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be. Changing Trends And Their Implications For Transport Planning (Ref: CO_5047)

  • “The Twentieth Century was a period of declining vehicle costs. The Twenty First century will be a period of declining communication and computing costs, which improves mobility substitutes and management strategies. This may reduce vehicle travel.” (Ref: CO_5047)
  • “Transportation needs can (...) be reduced by increasing ‘virtual’ accessibility through information technology (teleworking,e-government, e-health, etc.). Evidence on the effect of these practices is still limited, but it seems they have a significant and yet unexploited potential for replacing travel” (Ref: CO_0015)
  • “The use of information and communications technology to reduce transport demand can be particularly cost effective and can have large environmental benefits. Teleconferencing can reduce transport demand and enable companies to control travel costs if air travel becomes more expensive, helping to maintain economic competitiveness.” (Ref: CO_5030)
  • “On the other hand, greater ease of contact might encourage people to live further from their workplace and firms to disperse their activities. The net result could be fewer, but longer, journeys related to work. In any event, teleworking has the great advantage of providing flexibility in the choice of when to travel, therefore significantly reducing congestion.” (Ref: CO_0015)
  • “Although it tends to reduce peak-period trips, telework does not necessarily reduce total vehicle mileage unless implemented with other travel reduction strategies, for the following reasons: teleworkers often make additional errand trips that would otherwise be made during commutes, and vehicles not used for commuting may be driven by other household members.” (Ref: CO_5047)
  • “Improved telecommunications may increase long-distance connections, increasing travel. For example, people may make new friends through the Internet and travel more to visit them.” (Ref: CO_5047)

Increasing demand for logistics services

  • “Access to a growing variety of on-line information and e-commerce outlets will also increase the demand for home supply of goods and services. Urban logistics strategies will thus need to focus on efficiency gains – again with greater integration of deliveries and optimised use of the infrastructure.” (Ref: CO_0260)

Sustainable mobility

  • “The threat of increasingly unsustainable transportation systems in the large cities of the world comes from the interaction between growing demand for transportation services and the environmental impact of transportation. Demand tends to grow at a geometric rate, while the environmental capacity (at given technologies) to handle such growth is fixed. Technology offers enormous possibilities for change in the longer run, but unless harnessed to the goal of sustainability, may aggravate some problems (such as traffic congestion) while in the process of fixing others (reducing emissions per road vehicle kilometre).” (Ref: CO_0272)
  • “(...) (an) important (...) driving force(s) to achieve a sustainable future transportation solution (is):
    • Technology development” (Ref: CO_0058)
  • “Only with discovery, promotion and development of new energy resources, matched to innovation and improvements in current technologies, catalysed by optimally formulated policies can we hope to ensure a more sustainable transport future for current and future generations.” (Ref: CO_0159)
  • “Demography or urbanization trends have small impacts as well, as their effects on transport can only be seen on the very long term. Other factors, such as improvement of technology or changes in infrastructure stock have much more accelerated effects.” (Ref: CO_5048)

Public transport

  • “Social media can improve the image of public transport companies and it is a very effective tool that public transport companies should be using already. (...) Social media offers an opportunity to open a dialogue with the customer, allowing interaction and providing opportunities to augment traditional web and wider marketing activities. This is very useful given the very frequent interaction public transport companies have with their customer base (almost daily).” (Ref: CO_0290)
  • “Social media is also impacting how people complain about services. Previously this was quite individual with the wider public only becoming aware if the ‘mainstream’ media became involved. Now, an increasing number will complain through social media channels, often as they are experiencing the service failure. If ignored, these complaints can spread and be shared rapidly but, by addressing such complaints through social media dialogue, public transport companies can often effectively manage and respond to these complaints and enhance reputation in a very visible way.” (Ref: CO_0290)
  • “The mobile nature of social media in particular makes it a very natural ‘fit’ for public transport, both as a source of significant competitive advantage and as a highly effective tool to grow patronage, keep our customers informed, listen to them and enhance customer service, satisfaction and reputation.” (Ref: CO_0290)

Increasing road safety

  • “Across Europe, researchers are busy developing new and exciting systems that have the potential to advance road safety in myriad ways. Yet these technologies will only deliver real progress on road safety if they are made available in vehicles and on our roads. Research must therefore be accompanied by user tests and cost-benefit analyses to help regulatory authorities and consumer testing organisations prioritise different options for action.” (Ref: CO_0266)

The emerging need to tackle with new problems

  • “Some key transport innovations – containerisation, high-speed rail, low-cost air travel, etc. – have led to great increases in the amounts and speeds of both passenger and goods transport, with benefits to consumers and business. The transport sector has traditionally revealed itself to be adept at increasing speed and traffic volumes. But these improvements have often come at excessive costs, in terms of increased energy use, GHGs and congestion, as well as costs related to public spending. Furthermore, there are areas where transport has notably failed to make important improvements, including managing road space, improving the productivity of public transport, and increasing overall system efficiency, such as the integration of land-use and transport planning. Many fundamental challenges associated with transport remain, such as pollution, safety and congestion. (...) future innovation in transport will need to change to focus less on speed and volume and more on addressing the new challenges noted earlier, and that this change in focus will require clear policy signals” (Ref: CO_0293)
  • “Therefore, a completely new issue emerges (...). The new challenge is to unleash the potential to improve the time we spend in the transport system. (...) a future focus of innovation will be to reduce the time spent in idle, for instance in congestion. Some innovations in this area will be useful from a collective point of view, though to some extent inconvenient for individuals – electronic speed control or road charging, for instance.” (Ref: CO_0284)