Mobility “Renaissance”

Today, IoT and advancements across various technological dimensions enable novel service models to be introduced. As we head towards a singularity across different components, we are entering a renaissance of innovation for a new era in lifestyle. It has been some years since the mobility renaissance began, initially by redefining the convenience of car commuting through the mobile platform. As the transportation industry begins to repaint how one is to commute on a daily basis, we are now exploring new modes to fulfill this necessity. Of course, disparity exists in services available for different income quartiles, the way polarization in many societies has always been ubiquitous. At OMNI, we choose to recognize the total potential of mobility, not just as a transportation service, but as an engine of sustainable economic growth and nation building.

Majority of micro mobility operators target tier 1 regions and cities, for a very good reason. With lower rates of vandalism and ease of enforcement, along with the reputation it brings to their brands, these locations bring out more attractive performance and metrics to show the public administrators and investors alike. However, we as micro mobility operators must respect that we are in the premature stage of an industrial cycle. There are still several barriers to surpass, one being public sentiment towards micro mobility due to the potential of street clutters and urban hazards. The ultimate question that we at OMNI must ask is how we can transform this collective mindset. The conventional method is to implement expensive marketing campaigns to inform the public of why the new methods are more convenient and modern. The solution to shortening this gap between the ambition and future is innovation, as it always have been.

Micro mobility, currently in its early stages of the industrial cycle, focused on the convenience by integrating transportation with the mobile application and shared bicycles. Yet, the vehicles we observe being implemented are not too innovative. Bicycles and kick scooters have been around for decades. E-scooters made that breakthrough from its energized component, but can companies, including OMNI, go further? Today, we are integrating the seated functionality to fuse the convenience and comfort for the public. Simple innovation as a baby step towards the mobility revolution. The goal here is to serve our users beyond just their transportation needs. It is to help users lead more comfortable and convenient lifestyles as I believe what all sharing economy companies should set out for. But within our industry, there is room for integrating greater functionalities across our fleet; sensors for temperature, humidity, sound, light, pollution, and even cameras. On a longer horizon, our fleet will become more versatile as technologies become more advanced and available for sharing integration.

In order to reinvent the wheel with modern disciplines, we need to understand mobility and its multidimensional nature. The way wheel facilitates physical mobility, we want to take our time in understanding how our business can mobilize people across a wider spectrum. How we can break down barriers of this industry and integrate them with other needs and potential segments. While many operators focus in prime cities, there is an untapped segments in less attractive areas where no micro mobility operators dare to venture into. Such areas are characterized by low roads, digital infrastructure, and non-motorized transport (NMT). In a shorter horizon, there may be no incentives for operators to risk their fleet in deploying across these areas. However, there may be incentives for governments to encourage such expansion.

Infrastructure is the key nation-building engine for increasing the overall economic activity and development of a country. Although effective from a macroeconomic scope, these expensive development projects unfortunately have disproportionate impact on the bottom line of the population. While the new highways met the logistical necessities for trade and domestic connectivity, only those who owned the necessary resources benefited from these boons, while those without access were further isolated from the newfound opportunities and polarized deeper into social exclusion. Those in the rural regions still had to commit significant portion of their lives to commute to workplaces and market, while children still had to walk long distances to schools, and those in need of supplies and medical treatment still had to embark on days-long journeys just to ensure the welfare of their lives. Ultimately, the detrimental conditions faced by the populations in these regions are inefficient time expenditure and high opportunity cost for social inclusion.

The future will inherit greater social exclusion faced by today’s generation if no one chooses to tackle the inherent roots of the cause: access and mobility. Rural mobility is often characterized as non-motorised transportation, ranging from walking, cycling to human or animal-led carts. Because infrastructural developments often ignore the rural towns and their poor connectivity, the government are effectively ignoring the potential yet long term oriented benefits for a sustainable economic health. In cases for China, its development of minimal cost rural roads had a 4x greater benefit-to-cost ratio in 2005 while a mathematical modelling in Papua New Guinea, bringing rural people to under 2 hours of walking commute reduced abject poverty by more than 11%.

As globalization fuels infrastructure and industrial developments, the rural areas are being pushed into further exclusion as its ecosystems become more neglected and destroyed. Consider the deforestation of the Amazons and the Chinese government purchasing massive lands in Africa. The rural communities are the main source for food production and the vanguard custodians to the environment. However, we observe in most developing countries the migration of the younger generation into the urbanized area to enjoy higher standards of living and greater inclusion. The problem and the widening gap of rural development and inclusion was never the logistics required for development, but in the branding of rural characteristics itself.

Although the micro mobility offers sustainable means of transport with bicycles, many operators, if not all, are neglecting to delve deeper into building a sustainable future. If the focus is strictly limited to the urban areas, they are simply saturating the cities along with their competitors and worsening the congestion in the meantime. The strategy itself is unsustainable in user volume oriented growth due to the competitive rivalry. We believe rural areas offer untapped and unsaturated market and a long-term strategic growth through higher perceived value from the rural based users and the opportunity to introduce other services through micro mobility, beginning with payment platforms; to bank the “unbankable” and invigorating informal P2P commerce.

In regards to the Triple Bottom Line philosophy, we at OMNI recognize the potential of our micro mobility services across all dimensions of a society. A true Renaissance affects all facets of a society, and through access and mobility, we can eventually impact with versatility and through valuable relationships.

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