Imagine – Part 1

By Jeff Barlow, Justice Consultant, ImageSoft

Part One: Mobility as a Service

135_imagine1Let’s imagine, if you will, a court in the future. Pick your own timeline for the advent of each of the futuristic “advances” proposed below. Every one of them is already under way. Granted, some of them are still in the early prototype stages, but most are fairly far along; some are already implemented in other government and private sector entities.

Ask yourself the question:

What would change in my court if ____

  • Revenue from minor traffic and/or parking fines is cut 50-90 percent?
  • Filings of cases involving traffic violations drop, again by 50-90 percent?
  • Filings of auto-based personal injury cases drop by 50-90 percent?
  • And of those filing, less than 20 percent go to trial?
  • Parties were able to ascertain (sometimes with the assistance of lawyers, sometimes without) the estimated outcome of cases with a likelihood of 95 percent or more in three quarters of all cases, and to accordingly plead, settle, or not even file?

How do these things happen? Consider some of the following developments.

Mobility as a Service (MaaS)

Remember when the cost of getting entertainment from a TV consisted of buying the TV and antenna? True, it was expensive, but you only paid once. Now consider how much you pay every month for TV. That’s Entertainment as a Service. You pay for personal communication through your cell phone bill; that’s Mobile Connectivity as a Service.

What Uber, Lyft, and similar enterprises offer is Mobility as a Service. The big driver (no pun intended) here is that, next to the home, the vehicle is generally a person or family’s biggest expense. There’s the cost of the vehicle, the cost of the fuel, the cost of the insurance, and the cost of storage (garage at home; paid parking at work or elsewhere) just to name a few expenses that go with vehicle ownership. Worst of all, the asset – the vehicle – that’s costing all that money sits idle between 70 percent and 95 percent of the time, during which, of course, it has to be stored.

Thus, the financial incentive for individuals living in urban areas to divest themselves of cars – or use them a lot less – when possible is great. In urban and many suburban areas, this divestiture is already becoming and will continue to become even more attractive.

The limitation on most forms of public transportation (buses, rail lines, etc.) until now have been:

  • The need for the rider to go to where the transportation loads and unloads; and
  • The need for the rider to conform to the transportation system schedule.

MaaS changes that dynamic. The question becomes service level – what will the user pay to receive a given level of service/flexibility.

Just as Napster changed fundamentally and forever the business model for acquiring music, Uber, Lyft, and the other early players in MaaS are fundamentally and forever changing the model for personal transportation. Even if Uber and/or Lyft fail to survive – as Napster failed to survive – the change will be irreversible.

Coming in Part Two: Augmented/Self-Driving Vehicles – How this technology introduces new legal questions.