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Geo 101: What Is Shared Mobility?

The sharing economy continues to grow — and location intelligence plays a vital role.

From geo-targeting to beacons, location-based technology is opening up a world of possibilities for marketers. But it’s also complicated, as new capabilities and use cases seem to emerge every day.

With the goal of breaking down some of the most important “geo” concepts to provide a better understanding of the basics — and a jumping off point for exploring how far the power of location may take us — we introduce the next installment of our GeoMarketing 101 series: understanding ‘shared mobility.’

What Is Shared Mobility?

The notion of shared mobility refers to the range of technology that powers the wider “sharing economy.” This includes pooled ride-hailing services like Uber, Lyft, and more, but it most specifically refers to municipal transportation features of “Smart Cities” — like app-based bike or car sharing companies, such as Citi Bike and Zipcar.

Essentially, shared mobility means thinking about the ways in which technology has impacted shared transportation and the way people get around cities — and how it can continue to be made more advanced, efficient, and cost-effective.

So, what major companies are thinking about shared mobility and the future of “smart cities”? It isn’t just Uber and Lyft, although both could certainly have ambitions in the space. Plenty of “traditional” auto and transportation brands will have a role to play, whether that means partnering with on-demand upstarts like ZipCar or striking out on their own.

Audi, for example, is expanding its shared mobility ambitions with the acquisition of Silvercar, an airport-focused rental car company. But as we wrote earlier this week, the brand appears to be looking at more than just a vehicle rental service; it’s all about shaping the role of cars in the future.

With Silvercar, Audi is betting that the combination of the sharing economy and autonomous vehicles will make private car ownership just one of many models that consumers will adopt.

“I believe, as does the Silvercar team, that we are on the verge of the most profound changes in the 120-year history of modern personal transportation,” Silvercar CEO Luke Schneider wrote in a blog post about the Audi deal.

Shared Mobility And Location Intelligence

Another interesting element of shared mobility is its relation to the rise of location intelligence: The app-based sharing economy depends on mapping services — which is part of the reason that there has been so much development and competition in the “map wars” over the past two years. After all, you can’t call a car — or share it — if you can’t find it.

Shared mobility furthers providers’ reliance on high-quality location data, as well as creating a proliferation of data points itself. For example, Apple Maps recently began including data and place points for electric vehicle charging stations. In that sense, maps that point to places to share a rental car or find municipal bike sharing could be a key development for promoting the wider idea of shared mobility.