Connected World: Hyperconnected Travel and Transportation in Action

By Nikolaus LangMichael RüßmannJussi LehtinenAntonella Mei-Pochtler, and Jens Riedl

Four innovations—largely based on existing technologies—promise to improve the efficiency, speed, and comfort of travel, trade, and tourism by 2025, according to Connected World: Hyperconnected Travel and Transportation in Action, a new report by the World Economic Forum, produced in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group.

The Forum’s three-year Connected World project culled from a long list of possibilities four innovations that stood out to offer profound societal and business opportunities. This report—based on year two of the project—identifies the existing technologies that can help actuate each innovation and presents potential operating models, recommends governance structures, and highlights challenges for implementation.

  • An automated check-in, security, border-control, and smart-visa system could ease international traveling difficulties while ensuring high levels of security and traveler privacy. Improving visa processes in the G-20 alone could generate an estimated $40 billion to $200 billion increase in tourism by 2015, resulting in as many as 5 million new jobs, according to the report.
  • A condition-based megacity traffic-management system that uses real-time data collection and analytics could steer or redirect traffic, provide smart-parking capabilities, manage public-transportation capacity, and handle congestion and traffic emergencies using dynamic tolling and access restrictions. A BCG cost-benefit analysis shows that implementing a comprehensive intelligent-transportation system for a megacity of 10 million residents would result in benefits that have a net present value of $2 billion to $10 billion, depending on the technology and scope of the system.
  • An integrated, proactive, intermodal travel-assistant system could select, book, and navigate different modes of travel customized to individual needs, using real-time information. This could reduce costly travel delays. (By 2020, delays and cancellations at just 12 major U.S. airports could erode up to $20 billion in economic activity, according to the report.)
  • A transparency and traceability optimizer for logistics could streamline cumbersome logistics and customs processes, enabling goods to flow more swiftly, less expensively, and more reliably than they did in the past. Reducing barriers within the global supply chain could increase worldwide economic activity by almost 5 percent and total trade volume by 15 percent, according to the report.

Because the technology needed to implement these innovations largely exists, successful implementation hinges on surmounting institutional barriers and forging cooperation between companies and the private sector.

In its final year, the Connected World project will focus on building policy dialogue to bring together the key stakeholders to accelerate implementation—first by launching pilot projects and then scaling those pilots to full operation.