Research on CCAM is devoted to demonstrating the great potential that the use of new technologies can have on our future mobility, especially for the benefit of people with accessibility limitations due to different types of vulnerability, such as the elderly or people with disabilities. However, socio-economic research also alerts us to the risk that, if not carefully designed, products and services that rely heavily on digital technologies may not be enjoyed by everyone, or at least not in the same way; and CCAM is no different.
The analysis of equity practices in the supply of CCAM products and services in Europe, conducted as part of the SINFONICA project, is indeed showing the risk that someone may be left behind in reaping the benefits from CCAM. The analysis is mainly based on a sample of 40 European projects funded under Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe framework programmes, and some national CCAM initiatives in Germany and the UK.
As things stand today, people with little or no skills in the use of technology, or who do not have access to smartphones, tablets or PCs – the so-called digitally vulnerable people – are potentially discriminated against in the use of CCAM, especially in this transition phase from traditional to fully automated vehicles. EU projects have shown how user interaction with digital tools and applications is crucial when planning the use of CCAM and accessing the services.
Also, low-income groups, ethnic minorities, and migrants – people at risk of poverty – might be discriminated against in the transition towards CCAM, as these vehicles will be likely to be (much) more expensive to own and maintain. Moreover, access to digital services often relies on the use of credit cards, which – again – should not be considered affordable by everyone.
These examples might represent a paradox, because people suffering from “mobility poverty” should be among the main beneficiaries of CCAM in the future. Indeed, CCAM should be conducive to a mobility system in which accessibility and availability are ready for all.
On the other hand, when looking at the political and strategical analysis of the pre-conditions for social acceptability and take up of CCAM products and services in our cities, the major focus of EU projects is on the digitally vulnerable and those at risk of poverty. These projects often present long-term visions of the implications, barriers and enablers of CCAM for a wide range of stakeholders. For example, implications on spatial planning and governance for policy makers and urban planners, new business models for car manufactures, etc.
In such cluster of projects , quotation of digitally vulnerable people, persons at risk of poverty and persons living in remote areas account for 9%, against an average of 4%-5% with reference to the other projects. This evidence may reflect the strategic awareness of policymakers and experts about the risk that automated and connected transport may exclude a part of the adult population in the future, due to low digital skills and affordability of the new services.
That is why SINFONICA is so important! It is in fact expected that user engagement strategies through workshops, interviews, focus groups and surveys will provide new and fresh insights on users’ needs, expectations, desires and fears towards CCAM, especially of people with special mobility needs, which have most likely been overlooked by the state-of-the-art research in the field.
Want to know more about the study on equity practices in CCAM?
Keywords: CCAM, social equity, future mobility, equity practices, social acceptability, digitally vulnerable people, mobility poverty
Author: Silvia Gaggi (firstname.lastname@example.org), Riccardo Enei (email@example.com)
 The sample of projects considered dealing with strategical issues are the following: COEXIST ( planning for future CCAM integration with infrastructure), ARCADE, TransAID, SCOUT ( definition of scenarios of CCAM availability at different level of integration and development ), PAV ( analysis of socio-economic impacts ), CITYMOBIL2 ( new technologies), LEVITATE, WISE-ACT and for specific stakeholders, STAPLE ( strategic consensus building, impacts assessment and key challenges).
Picture designed by gstudioimagen / Freepik