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Future of Transportation in Calgary

You wake up after a restful sleep and summon your car using your phone to meet you at your front door while you get dressed. Then you hop in and brew yourself a coffee while the car begins your journey to work and use this time to catch up on work so that you can go home early. You remember that you are out of milk so you order more online and a delivery drone will drop it off later that day. The car drops you off at the front door of the office and returns home to give the kids a ride to school.

Sounds like science fiction? It may not be. That is why The City of Calgary is looking into several future technologies to better understand and prepare for Calgary’s future.

Administration will bring a report to the SPC on Transportation and Transit committee meeting on May 17, 2017. While continual monitoring is a key aspect, three short-term actions are recommended:

  • Participation in field trials of a low-speed autonomous vehicle pilot project 
  • Participation in the Government of Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge
  • Continue working with several partners (Province of Alberta, City of Edmonton, Calgary Economic Development, Alberta Centre for Advanced MNT Products [ACAMP] and others) to promote Alberta and Calgary as an autonomous technology cluster.

 The Future of Transportation in Calgary  report looks at many emerging technologies, related societal trends, and what they might mean for the future of Calgary. Three themes that will have the most significant impact on the future are:

Autonomy – For transportation, there will be an increase in the amount of processes that will be automated into the foreseeable future. The major technologies studied for this theme were: Autonomous Vehicle Technology and Aerial Delivery Drones.

Electrification – The convergence of price and battery capacity is allowing manufactures to build practical and cost-effective electric vehicles for the first time. The major technologies studied for this theme were: Electric Vehicles, E-Bikes and Pedelecs.

Connectivity and Shared Mobility – More devices will be connected to the internet, allowing for interaction between devices and a greater amount of information for the user, companies and governments. This will allow for the sharing of transportation resources. The major technologies studied for this theme were: Connected Vehicles, Mobility as a Service (MaaS), Internet of Things (IoT) and Parking Technology.

In many cases, these trends will complement each other to enable technologies that will have a significant impact in terms of how Calgary is built and evolves.

If these technologies are fully realized there are likely to be a mix of impacts both to The City of Calgary and the broader public. The City’s land use plan and transportation plan  likely continue to be supported and can be complemented by future technologies, but aspects of the plans will need to be revisited as more is known on the timing and extent of uptake of the technologies. The most significant impacts to The City of Calgary are erosion of several existing funding sources (such as fuel tax due to the projected increase of electric vehicles) and the potential changing role of Calgary Transit. The technologies offer significant societal benefits with respect to health outcomes (due to reduced collisions), environmental outcomes (lower greenhouse gases), fiscal outcomes (lower travel costs) and opportunities to diversify the job market in Calgary. This comes with high risk to employment in several fields, potential for reduced physical activity and potential increases in social isolation.