Key takeaways from Mobilise 2024: the future of infrastructure

The conference, hosted by techUK, which took place in London earlier this month, explored how we can accelerate transformation of transport and its supporting infrastructure.

Mobility and Technology partner Victoria Bentley attended the conference, which brought together key players in the digital sector with public sector leaders. Key topics included advancing transport innovation, paving the way to net zero and leveraging data, artificial intelligence (AI), and analytics.

Our key takeaways from the conference

Securing the future of transport

The opening panel emphasised that transportation is not just a means of travel but a pivotal factor in economic growth, providing access to jobs, education, and choices in mobility. Disparity in public transport access between London and other UK regions highlights the need for geographically appropriate local delivery systems.

Post-pandemic, the reform agenda faces frustration due to insufficient investment, raising questions about the optimal use of the Treasury Green Book to integrate technology into the mobility sector. Innovations like multi-modal journeys, exemplified by platforms like Uber, are driving progress, yet further electrification is necessary to expand these options. Infrastructure, particularly electric vehicle (EV) charging access, plays a crucial role in public confidence and adoption.

The mobility sector’s contribution to other industries, such as arts and sports, is significant, as highlighted within the Economic Impact Report, with the quality of transport experiences influencing public engagement. However, simplifying the transport system is challenging due to aging infrastructure and complex regulatory standards. Rail services struggle with customer satisfaction and punctuality, constrained by the dated state of railway lines and other assets.

Funding certainty is a critical concern, with long-term projects over five years lacking sufficient financial support for sustained delivery. Engaging local business leaders for their insights on area-specific needs could enhance decision-making processes. Giving local authorities more autonomy on decision-making when it comes to transport and access to funding is necessary to secure a better and more aligned future as a country; authorities should also look to encourage renewable energy projects as ways to power these options of transport.

Freight, an often-overlooked sector, requires attention and representation in discussions. The UK’s wider mobility innovation is commendable, but there’s a sense of being late to the game. Earlier intervention by initiatives like Innovate UK could have positioned the country better against global competitors, emphasising the need for courage in collaboration. The recent Automated Vehicles Bill does demonstrate where we are making strides against competitor countries, where we can not only look to remove barriers to disability access to transport, but also to achieve a £66 billion economy boost by getting on board with the journey.

Security issues surrounding EV equipment installation and the integration of automated vehicles with traditional transport modes also present challenges that must be addressed to ensure a safe and cohesive transportation ecosystem. A focus on preventative strategies for infrastructure fails is needed, rather than on ‘fixing’ issues that might be avoidable.

Cracking the data challenge

This panel focused heavily on ‘run before we can walk’ approach. They advised that there are plenty of areas to improve across the sector, predominantly on the passenger experience side, noting that transport data is built for industry professionals and needs acronym translations for public interpretation.

The panel highlighted that building blocks needs to be put into place where a baseline is created demonstrating what data we have and how we go about using it, making accuracy and geography paramount. There are gaps where telecoms and energy are weak, but data needs to communicate the holistic journey experience to the end user. It was outlined that multi-disciplinary teams need to be put in place so that all those invested in the success of transport data have a seat at the table, but across the UK there is an acknowledged digital skills gap which needs to be addressed.

There needs to be a focus on using data for integrated transport, where currently the technology is available but the leadership (the voice) behind it isn’t. This was a theme that came up again later in the day, with sentiment that there is not an ‘Amazon’ – a clear entity at the top of the tree – within connected transport for example to mandate the standards. People and processes need to be installed in unison with data [platforms] to understand the gaps within the data and access for it.

We should strive for the best customer experience with the datasets currently available, whilst focussing ethically on what data we do and do not need access to. Capturing accessibility data is difficult as it can mean different things to different people. Rail Data Marketplace is a great example of allowing the user to choose what level of accessibility data to access.

Data provided to make towns/cities more carbon neutral looks to see where further investment is needed to make journeys shorter and more efficient, an example of using data to benefit the end user. For example, AI is being brought in to change traffic management to suit road user needs and can focus on local attributes giving a more tailored outcome.

It was acknowledged that data sharing has risks, where it largely needs to be anonymised to overcome challenges associated with it. Transport is seen by the Treasury as a new smart data sector, but we need to look at what data security looks like within transport, learning from other sectors such as banking and healthcare.

Quantum computing and positioning, timing and navigation

Two other presentations followed this panel session, which looked at how quantum computing and positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) could be the solutions to future issues within the sector. Quantum computing is poised to revolutionise the transport sector by leveraging the principles of quantum mechanics; it can enhance security, provide independent navigation, optimise operations, and promote sustainability. From secure communications to green logistics, quantum technology promises a smarter, more efficient future for transportation. Elsewhere PNT allows for accurate navigation ensuring safe travel, while precise time synchronisation impacts financial transactions, communication networks, and infrastructure management. PNT forms the global backbone, enabling efficient movement of goods and people across the entire mobility spectrum.

Net zero barriers

This panel outlined that the UK’s ambitious net zero targets require significant efforts to reduce carbon emissions from the domestic transport sector, which is currently responsible for 29.1% of the country’s emissions. Transport plays a crucial role in achieving sustainability. The ambitious study titled “Bridging the Gap” highlighted a significant carbon “gap” between current government transport decarbonisation policies and local planning targets where simply relying on a switch to electric vehicles won’t suffice; we must think beyond EVs and focus on systemic changes in how we travel.

Achieving net zero mobility requires a shift in behaviour and a re-imagining of our relationship with transport. It’s not just about technology; it’s about people and place. We need to prioritise active travel, enhance public transport, and create sustainable urban environments.

The panel emphasised the need for advance modelling and field trials to understand customer behaviours as they start to adapt to EVs, and the importance of public-private partnerships.

The technology sector can assist to drive modal shift and electrification by collaborating with local authorities, universities, and research networks, with clear benefits to innovating in areas like micro-mobility, smart infrastructure and data-driven solutions.

Decarbonisation isn’t just about reducing emissions; it’s about creating a holistic, equitable system and we should consider financing, operational costs and supply chains in a just transition to a low-carbon economy. The UK Government’s transport decarbonisation package includes measures to support EV adoption and sustainable aviation fuel production. Collaboration, investment, and policy support are critical for a greener transport sector on the path to net zero.


The conference reinforced that the transportation sector is more than just means of travel; it’s a catalyst for economic growth, job access, education, and mobility choices. However, disparities in public transport availability between London and other UK regions underscore the need for geographically tailored local delivery systems.

When it comes to transport data, a proactive approach is needed. Transport data, often industry-centric, requires translation for end users. Building baseline blocks, improving accuracy, and fostering multi-disciplinary collaboration will pave the way for a holistic travel experience. Closing the digital skills gap ensures success in this data-driven journey.

Achieving net zero mobility requires behavioural shifts, systemic changes, and collaboration across sectors. Prioritising active travel, enhancing public transport, and embracing innovation are crucial steps toward a greener, more equitable and connected transport system.


This information is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



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