Digital platforms and the future of urban mobility

This major three-year study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, researches how digital platforms are reshaping urban mobility systems.

Green scooters on the streets of Berlin

The extent to which urban mobility platforms (including ride-hailing, bike-sharing, mapping, payment, and other platforms) mitigate or exacerbate contemporary economic, ecological, and social challenges, including Covid-19, at the urban scale will depend on which platform innovations, and combinations of them, become dominant in a place, how they relate to existing forms of provision and how effectively this can be organised and governed.

Fusing insights from urban studies and innovation studies, the project aims to critically investigate how and why global trajectories of urban mobility platform innovation combine and embed in specific city-regional contexts, and with what socio-spatial implications.

Consequently, the central questions the research asks are as follows.

  • What are the various global trajectories of urban mobility platform innovation and how are they imagined and organised?
  • How do knowledge and policy associated with these various urban mobility platform innovation trajectories circulate between urban contexts?
  • How do these trajectories combine and embed in city-regional contexts and with what implications for socio-spatial re-organisation?

The research has three objectives.

  • To develop a global database of the various trajectories that constitute the global urban mobility platform innovation landscape.
  • To produce profiles of five intermediaries involved in the circulation of platform knowledge and policies. Each profile will explore how intermediary organisations represent and circulate selective platform trajectories to particular places.
  • To conduct in-depth, processual case studies of urban platform innovation in three English city regions (West Midlands, Greater Manchester, and North East Combined Authority / North of Tyne). The case studies will investigate how global platform trajectories combine and embed in various place-based contexts, and with what socio-spatial implications.


How digital mobility platforms are reshaping urban mobility in a time of COVID-19 and after

Digital mobility platforms have become a feature of urban transport landscapes over the last decade or so.

This report critically examines how digital platforms have responded to the shock to urban mobility created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Drawing on a range of international examples, the report develops key implications of these platform responses for how urban mobility flows and geographies are being reshaped in the current moment.

The report and its implications provide key insights and a resource for policymakers and practitioners working in the area of urban transport.

The report will also be of interest to urban and national policymakers and a general audience.

The Urban Digital Stack

The Urban Digital Stack is a framework to help decisionmakers in UK cities and city-regions to think strategically about how existing urban public transport systems can be organised to include digital mobility platforms.

Read more about The Urban Digital Stack framework.