An important part of city life starts and ends with air travel. In the US, 642 million passengers flew on 8.4 million domestic flights during 2012. So how can network technology go from a gate-to gate experience to an enhanced door-to-door experience?
Frequent flyers have embraced electronic boarding passes to make their lives easier. Less frequent travelers might not appreciate this new technology but surcharges by low cost airlines for paper tickets and paper boarding passes have converted both types of travelers. We are now beginning to get more refined flight information on-line: notification of delays, progress on stand-by lists and alternative options. This means less work for the screen at the gate and more information in your palm about your trip.
Wi-Fi is widespread in lounges at airports and in the waiting areas inside the terminals. However, few are accessible without a special access code or even at all in the check-in area. As so much information is collected at the booking and required en route, the addition of effortless airport coverage is the next big thing off the plane. Who wouldn’t like to check the box for “Device connectivity at airports en route” when booking a trip?
The entertainment screen in the chair in front of you has been an integrated part of the flying experience for decades. It’s about to get seriously challenged by the tablets most travelers bring on board. The only aspect missing is network capacity on board to support streaming entertainment services. Investing more in network capacity and less on commercial rights and video/DVD/Blu-ray players on board is a mainstream trend.
Last but not least, the networked flight attendant will be updated in the air about the impact of any weather-related delays, mechanical problems or slot times. Tablets and super-sized smartphones are becoming the new work horse to serve you better as you approach the end of your flight. Will I make my connection? Will I need any support for expedited rush between terminals? How long is the immigration line? Am I re-booked on a new flight already?
My predictions for the future of networked aviation are:
– The journey towards connecting airports, planes and passengers is in its infancy and represents the single most important source of adding values to air travel.
– Our smartphones will remain the key touch point for updates on day of travel, and will take over as the primary booking tools for trips.
– Our tablets will become the new personal entertainment screen as soon as satellite capacity allows for streaming during flights.
– Integrating taxi/bus/metro transport with networked aviation will extend the gate-to-gate experience all the way to a door-to-door experience.
A growing challenge in the cities is how to meet its citizen’s parking needs. Users expect navigation support to help them find parking spots close to their destination. With the growth of hybrid and electrical cars, the demand for powered parking spots will grow in urban areas. But what role do networks and smartphones play in this scenario?
Today, information about available parking spots is first displayed at the entry to a garage. With enhanced navigation support en route, the next step is to extend this type of information for empty parking spots. The value to society and citizens from finding a parking spot instantly will come in terms of time saved and reduced emissions. A networked parking lot or garage has the capability to make its available spots accessible to cars nearby. Checking-in a few minutes prior to arrival can soon be a reality.
The transition to electrical and hybrid cars is essential to reduce emissions in urban areas. Integrating electrical/hybrid car charging into urban parking is the next, natural step for dedicated electronic vehicle (EV) parking spots. Distributing charging locations to natural parking spots can make at-home and at-work parking a reality.
With the population growing in major urban areas, parking will continue to be a scarce resource. Efficient use of parking is relevant in urban centers but so is commuter parking – where multi-modal travelers switch to public transportation. With multi-modal travelling apps, different information about public transportation can be linked and extended to include private transportation. The adventure of parking cars in urban centers could soon be history, at least insofar as it is possible to serve the needs with existing parking spots.
My predictions for the future of networked parking are:
– Navigation support will be extended from best routes to also include parking.
– Location-based technology will allow nearby cars to check-in to a parking spot prior to arrival to reduce traffic load from “parking finding”.
– Dedicated EV parking spots will allow charging while “cityzens” are at work.
Modern “cityzens” expect mobile coverage and capacity wherever they go. Providing infrastructure for good mobile-data coverage and capacity is as important as public transportation, electricity, water and sewage. The question I want to address in this post is: how do operators leverage the capabilities of small cells to power-up performance in public spaces?
“Cityzens” spend more time travelling to and from work than their rural peers. It’s of great interest to them to turn this time into valuable professional or private time. This is an opportunity to catch up on their mailboxes and is prime time for social media interactions. This is driving demand for an increase in network capacity in the places where we spend time outside of home and work, for example at bus, train and subway stops and along major road and rail routes.
“Cityzens” who spend a significant amount of time in high-rise offices, multi-dwelling homes or hotel buildings are ofter above the normal mobile/cellular coverage levels. These users still expect that their mobile voice, data and video services will work just as well in these locations as on the ground level. To secure coverage in these places, special indoor solutions are needed to bring a vertical coverage dimension into play.
In addition to using time efficiently, “cityzens” are also keen to have coverage and capacity in their favorite relaxation spots. They want to watch a video clip or parts of a drama series or read an e-book in their favorite outdoor plaza; enjoy a relaxing moment under a tree or by a bench in the park together with their device or simply take a stroll through popular part of town. The scenarios are numerous and well known to all of us.
Finally, security and safety of “cityzens” – a priority for city governments – is dependent on high coverage and capacity city wide. Dedicated networks will inevitably fall short on the coverage and capacity expectations or will shoot budgets to exceptionally high levels prompting city administrators to leverage highly-dense mobile data networks.
My predictions of the future of network performance in public city spaces are:
– Mobile “app coverage” and capacity to meet citizen demand is the most import infrastructure development for cities in the near-term.
– “Cityzens” will leverage a mix of 3G/4G/Wi-Fi access to get their needs satisfied, provided there is a common business model across all three technologies.
– Coverage and capacity in public places will distinguish powered-up cities from those that are struggling to meet expectations.
– Access modernization will be done through a combination of macro-grid densification, small-cell introduction and Distributed Antenna System deployments in a variety of deployment scenarios.
Work has forever been a task associated with a distinct location – the workplace. Many professions, dependent on a phone and PC as primary tools, have changed allowing the possibility to work from alternative locations like the home. The service-centric professional life in the city and widespread availability of tablets and smartphones allow for many tasks to be executed wherever you are. So, how prepared are you for the “here-office” reality?
The services and sales sectors have embraced mobile devices extensively. Initially, the applications have been e-mail and interaction-centric. However, the mobilization of existing online service and sales processes is reshaping what “cityzens” will work with – and where they will work – in the future. Remote access to e-mail was a revolution, and now we are about to enter the next one.
The office is becoming more and more mobile. Expensive floor space in urban areas calls for a continued reduction in office space per employee. Many professions require work to be executed at clients’ locations. Lengthy urban commutes represent valuable work or leisure time, which could be used more efficiently. The sum of all these factors is pushing work out of both the office and the home to ever newer locations.
This evolution makes ubiquitous coverage and capacity a central question in the city. The professional applications and evolving use cases represent the largest untapped potential that network enhancements can serve. “Cityzens” will take it for granted. Employees need it to drive productivity, and the urban society cannot develop up to its potential without it.
My predictions for the future of the “here-office” are:
– More and more work tasks will be executed outside the office and home locations.
– The mobile working standard for a globetrotting salesperson today will penetrate more and more service sectors in the city.
– Increased coverage and capacity for a mobile-device-centric working environment will be vital for societal development in the city.
– The combination of HSPA (urban/suburban coverage), LTE (urban capacity) and Wi-Fi (device availability) will shape the future wireless access networks.
Restaurants are an important part of social life in the city, where stressed “cityzens” frequently choose an outing instead of cooking at home. Having Wi-Fi in the restaurant and social media “likes” are just as important as the menu for attracting visitors. So, what is essential for owners to consider as they take their concepts toward into a networked environment?
Many restaurant visits are decided at the last minute – usually as you are walking past a place that looks interesting. You know the neighborhood where you live, but you might be open to suggestions for places that are close to where you are. It is therefore central for restaurants to expand their attraction power beyond what we see physically to what we can see on our screens.
In many cases we know where to go, we just need to book a table. We might have difficulties in selecting an exact time in advance. We are also reluctant to take the 30-40 minute wait upon arrival. In this respect, it would be preferable to be able to secure a table on short notice by making the booking through a mobile app and then enjoying an aperitif elsewhere.
As the lifetime of menus becomes shorter and shorter, restaurants are keen on promoting their chosen ingredients in an effort to assist guests in the decision-making process. And with the trend at restaurants moving towards ‘Menu of the Day’ the next innovation will be to exploit tablet menus in close collaboration with what is going on in the kitchen during preparation.
Credit cards have been basic currency in restaurants for a long time. But mobile payments are moving in and opening up the doors for follow-up promotions for your next visit. Being able to monitor payments, owners can track how their online marketing is paying off. The current restaurant infrastructure for Wi-Fi and payment systems can be outsourced, and owners can focus on their new dining experience.
My predictions for the future of networked restaurants are as follows:
– Multiple restaurant processes (marketing, booking, menus and payments) can be re-engineered for a better dining experience.
– Wi-Fi for visitors is just one step toward the networked restaurant, where the following steps are more mission-critical and tied to the restaurants’ own operational processes.
– Restaurants will require highly reliable networks to realize their potential beyond what a typical restaurant Wi-Fi network delivers.
Running a coffee shop or a food stand that attracts customers during morning rush hour or during busy shopping times used to be about securing volumes and shop location. Marketing started as a way of creating brand awareness and used to happen when customers saw your shop and then decided to come in and make a purchase. That world is quickly changing however in the era of networked shopping.
Shop owners today can extend their marketing zone from that first visual content to now, when potential new customers show up in proximity of their store. Shops can extend promotions to frequent customers as soon as their location matches a given store. If you are in an unfamiliar area, you can even get navigational assistance to your favorite shop nearby. By extending marketing from the time you see a shop to now where that shop can “see” you nearby, increasing the effectiveness of marketing significantly.
This is especially relevant for city shoppers – aka ‘cityzens’ – who can benefit from receiving superior offerings, relevant to them here and now, from the shops they prefer. Smartphones become the bridge between online marketing and in-store purchases. Daily specials can be considered before determining which shops to visit. This new marketing model is suitable for both food and merchandise shops.
In addition to changing the marketing process, the payment process is being impacted by new innovations. Paying directly with your phone is being introduced on a broad scale. Credit card validation is central today in determining what IS/IT capabilities to deploy. The change in the payment capabilities is a key part of the transition to networked stores. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this trend is the broad applicability. It is not about luxury goods stores, this is relevant for any shop in the Networked Society.
My predictions for the future of networked shopping are:
– Stores will leverage location technology for marketing to attract ‘cityzens’ nearby before they even see the shop.
– Smartphones will be the device involved in the target marketing process.
– In addition to marketing changes, shops will complement their payment infrastructure to support payments through phones directly.
– The IS/IT capabilities will change to support the new era of “in-line shopping”.
To learn more about In-line shopping, have a look at this report from ConsumerLab