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Transport Equity
April 5, 2018

Housing Affordability and Traffic Congestion

Positioning our cities to succeed in the 21st Century is the stance taken by the Government’s Smart Cities Plan.

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How does ‘shared mobility’ play a role in Smart Cities and could it tackle housing affordability?

“Positioning our cities to succeed in the 21st Century” is the stance taken by the Government’s Smart Cities Plan – the idea of making cities more liveable and attracting talent to fuel innovative growth through job creation.

Two items high on the agenda are housing affordability and traffic congestion, both pain points, most people can relate to. You either live in a city and fight traffic, or you avoid the city because you have to fight traffic and housing… well, that’s pretty self-explanatory, according to Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey: 2018, Sydney is the second least affordable place to live.

Aligning initiatives to tackle these two pain points is critical as the private sector skips down the path euphorically lock-armed with the government towards efficient, electric autonomous vehicle (EAV) driven Smart Cities.

Now, here comes the long-bow-to-string: housing affordability and traffic congestion will, in part, be defined by how effective we are at changing the vehicle ownership model.

Yes, there are models out there to suggest that AI will play a major role for future commuters, shortening wait times or allowing cars to travel at much closer distances from each other. All aimed at reducing congestion and creating efficiencies greater than a human driver, but what happens first? In this data-driven world, interoperability is critical; the tech must be right, which will take time. Do we put in the infrastructure and expect people to change or do we work on providing familiarity first? The idea of ‘shared-mobility’ is a fundamental concept that links public transport ‘blacks spots’ and bridges the gaps of ‘first mile, last mile’ commuting inefficiencies. It also provides a mechanism to reduce our need for wasted space—a car is immobile for 95% of its life, sitting either in your garage or in a carpark somewhere. Delivering a shift in ownership preference through shared mobility now helps pave the way for more significant gains later.

Now linking this back to the previous statement, housing is steadily getting more and more out of reach for the everyday Aussie. Now some argue that a change to land supply policy while others blame foreign investors, there is even (anecdotal) evidence to suggest that we are too busy spending our ‘hard-earned’ on smashed avocado and fancy coffee. The Smart Cities Plan talks to policy change to support innovative technology through smart investment—these three pillars underpin the transformation. Upon this foundation are shared-mobility and interconnectivity.

Could traffic congestion and housing affordability be a matter of incentivising a non-ownership model for transportation?

Remove the ‘dead time’ of vehicles or re-think the purpose of a vehicle. Breaking, turning, and of course, sitting in the sun all day can create energy – clean, sustainable energy, something which we all need.

In a connected smart city, ‘shared mobility’ may enable an organisation to run a mobile energy grid of autonomous vehicles. Why not go a step further and connect this to the housing market and provide offsets for individuals that not only reduce their carbon footprint but reduce congestion through ridesharing?

If part of the Smart Cities Plan is to entice talent through job creation, then why not deliver a recruitment mechanism to incentivise that talent through home ownership within that city?

Congestion, carbon output and housing affordability are all influencers to overall GDP, and through technology, we gain invaluable insights to support future advances. Seamless integration will take some time, but the underlying technology to start that journey is already here.

Rideshare, carpooling, On-Demand transportation services are continuing to create cheaper and more efficient journeys for commuters unmatched by any single occupancy automobile.

One of the many questions to answer is how do we reward the behaviour that drives informed decision-making for our future smart cities?

About the Author

JJ O'Brien

JJ O'Brien


A Chief Marketing Officer that doesn't mind geeking out on a good sci-fi series, loves cooking American-style BBQ and enjoys seeing the positive impact of a well-crafted message.