Developing smart mobility concepts is paramount for every developed economy, also for Liechtenstein. But can Liechtenstein become a mobility pioneer? How realistic is this vision?

Liechtenstein has the opportunity to become a mobility pioneer, believes Felix Schüssler from Schüssler Consulting. Last week, he organized a workshop together with Dieter Marxer from Noventa Gruppe. The goal of the workshop was to develop mobility concepts for Liechtenstein, including digital solutions.

Digital tools will play a key role in future mobility concepts

“Liechtenstein measures about 160 square kilometers, but most of the actual activity – such as working, living and leisure – takes place at just about 18 square kilometers,” explains Thomas Lorenz, CEO of Zukunft.li. “About 40,000 people are living in this area, and it includes the same amount of jobs. That’s why it’s a major challenge to manage mobility and the development of mobility close to our borders.”

Dieter Marxer adds that cross-border mobility has become more critical in Liechtenstein over the past 15 to 20 years as large parts of the country’s workforce arrive from abroad every day. To ensure mobility for future generations, Liechtenstein has to start planning today.

Clarissa Rhomberg from Liechtenstein University explains digital tools will play a key role in the future of mobility. “It is much easier to implement ideas connected to digitalization or applications, than, for example, infrastructure projects,” says Rhomberg. Examples she mentions are “Sponti-Sharing,” where several people share one car, or the e-cycling-network Veloland.

Liechtenstein as a pioneer?

Digital tools and smart mobility are becoming more important everywhere, but can Liechtenstein become a mobility pioneer?

One of Liechtenstein’s advantages is that the country can implement legislative changes relatively fast. That’s particularly important for technological initiatives such as autonomous driving or smart mobility grids.

Fast government decision-making can also lead to the speedy implementation of infrastructure projects and incentive programs. Changing mobility concepts and engaging people to make use of digital applications mainly depends on the user’s willingness to participate. The Liechtenstein government is right now implementing a voluntary incentive system called “Mobility-bonus” that records the users’ mobility choices and offers monetary incentives for ecologically-friendly transportation.

Another advantage is that there is a range of mobility-tech businesses in Liechtenstein and Switzerland that contribute to the areas’ smart mobility development. That, combined with the expertise in industry 4.0 technologies such as Artificial Intelligence or Blockchain, could further contribute to Liechtenstein’s smart mobility.

The other side of the coin, however, is that a small county like Liechtenstein will hardly be able to work out a comprehensive mobility concept by itself. Large parts of Liechtenstein’s workforce arrive from Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. That’s why Liechtenstein will have to cooperate with neighboring governments.

Take autonomous driving, for example. It’s great if Liechtenstein pioneers legislation to enable autonomous driving. But if its neighbors don’t follow suit, autonomous cars won’t go a long way, precisely, until Liechtenstein’s borders and no further.

Mobility is primarily an infrastructure project. Companies in Liechtenstein could develop the tech-applications, and test them in Liechtenstein in pilot projects. Still, the large-scale success of such apps will always depend on their ability to scale into neighboring countries. No company will develop a mobility application for Liechtenstein only; the market is too small for it to be worth it.

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