Tech-enabled transport

Building smarter transportation networks in the GCC

Dr. Ulrich Kögler, Fadi Majdalani, Camil Tahan, Gerasimos Skaltsas
December 14, 2016

Executive summary

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)1 countries face significant fiscal, safety, environmental, and accessibility challenges in their transportation systems. Innovative new technologies offer a means of managing these issues. These technologies include autonomous vehicles, electric cars, drones, traffic management systems, and other advances. To capitalize on such emerging technology, government authorities, ministries of transport, and other regional stakeholders in the GCC should use a four-part framework:

  • Regulate: Revamp the operating model within organizations that oversee transportation, identify priorities, and develop an appropriate and up-to-date regulatory framework for emerging technologies. This framework should address data management, cybersecurity, privacy, and insurance and liability issues.
  • Pilot: Test promising technologies, including assessing potential benefits and adoption rates, and suggesting improvements. These tests may require partnering with private-sector companies that have the requisite technical expertise.
  • Build: Put the underlying infrastructure in place, including physical infrastructure (such as roads that can support autonomous vehicles, charging stations for electric cars, and facilities for greener maritime fuels) along with an IT backbone capable of handling the increased flow of information, and analytics tools to derive insights from the data.
  • Incentivize: Offer incentives to customers and service providers to spur greater adoption of these technologies, including subsidies, gamification, public–private partnerships, and tax breaks.

While introducing this framework, governments need to bear two factors in mind. First, GCC governments need not start from scratch. GCC nations can apply the lessons learned from other markets, that are further along in their adoption of transportation technologies, tailoring them to unique GCC needs. Second, technologies are developing quickly, making it difficult to project years ahead. For that reason, governments should avoid focusing on any one specific technology and spread their bets across multiple options, remain flexible, and adapt to changing conditions.

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Conclusion

As the GCC population grows and urbanization continues, governments have little choice but to upgrade their transportation systems. The wealth of new technologies can significantly help, provided governments use a systematic framework to assess and implement them. Specifically, transportation authorities should apply a four-part framework that encompasses regulating, pilot testing, building, and incentivizing:

  • regulate — review policy objectives and identify priorities within the key themes of mobility, safety, sustainability, and other factors; develop the right operating model; and develop new regulations as needed.
  • pilot — evaluate the potential benefits of new transportation technologies through testing, potentially in conjunction with privatesector partners.
  • build — develop both the physical and IT infrastructure needed to support new technologies.
  • incentivize — spur their adoption among both customers and service providers.

Technology offers GCC governments a means to not only address some of the most pressing fiscal, safety, environmental, and accessibility challenges they face, but also build the regional and global hubs for transportation and logistics that can propel regional economies into the future.

1 The GCC countries are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

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Dr. Ulrich Kögler

Partner, Strategy& Middle East

Camil Tahan

Partner, Strategy& Middle East

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