“4M” – a vision of the future
by Adeline Seidel | Jan 9, 2014
The traffic planner Federico Parolotto from the Milan office "MIC - Mobility in Chain" (left) and the city planner Philip Parson from Boston (right).
Photo © Federico Parolotto left | Photo right © Philip Parson

Close to 42 percent of all visitors to the Audi Urban Future Initiative website selected Philip Parson and Federico Parolotto as their favorite team, making the urban planner from Boston and the mobility expert from Milan the first official entrants in the Audi Urban Future Award 2014. Four teams will be competing for the final prize later this year.

Topping the online poll, the proposal by Parolotto and Parson envisages opening up the urban mobility market extensively, such as to increase in competition and expand the scope for services and innovations. The reasoning: If this market continues to be in the hands of just a few providers the range of transportation alternatives will remain restricted. “Mobility in cities is THE issue. We can try regulation like London or driverless cars. But what we really need is an open online marketplace, where the best alternatives win – for internationals or small entrepreneurs and of course for us.”, Parson explains.

“Multi-Mobility-Market-Places” – also known as “4M” – is expected to generate a wide range of mobility options in the future. Thanks to smart data linking “4M” will align personal mobility with the public transport network and “turn the tables” as a result: Users will no longer have to spend hours optimizing their routes because they will be able to rely on service providers selecting the best options for them. The concept is familiar from other online domains: An example is “TaskRabbit, a mobile marketplace that enables users to advertise small errands and jobs. So if you’d like to have someone pick up your laundry, you simply place the request online and will receive offers from your ‘TaskRabbits’.”

Parsons and Parolotto’s “4M” aims to simplify the task facing mobility researchers and developers while also bundling processes. As a result, users will be able to freely choose their own mode of transport – whether they champion cost-effectiveness, speed, excitement or green living in getting from A to B. “Imagine what these new mobility hubs can do for us: They can redefine our urban experience.”, Parson explains, “How we learn, how we meet, how we innovate, how we live as a community.”

> Watch their competition-video on vimeo

A sketch of the vision "4M". Drawing © Ken Goulding
A typical urban scene: mobility on its limits. Photo © Audi Urban Future Initiative