July 4th or August 15th the two independence days of note in my life- US and Indian always make me ponder on what is the meaning of independence , what is the meaning of being a citizen? what are the right and duties? Given my current involvement with all things digital and mobile- it is no surprise then that my focus was on digitization of transportation and services and what it means to an ordinary citizen.
Consider the facts, most of the job creation is in affluent areas of cities and most of the affordable housing is remote. Most of the medical facilities are in the heart of cities and most of the people who are in dire need of health care- are immobile or unable to afford transportation. the likes of Google maps, Uber and Lyft have meant massive gains and advantages for those digitally savvy but a large section of those needing affordable transport are not digitized yet- in fact a recent trip on the SF BART made this point clearer to me than ever before. I was traveling from the East Bay to the airport when a differently abled person with vision impairment and I got talking. It so happened that she was from Switzerland and I happen to speak German so the conversation was engaging and enlightening. The most striking part of it was that she owned a cell phone with buttons due to the ability of "braille" and secondly she ordered a taxi because she could talk to an operator! It occurred to me that no one was thinking about her needs in the new age economy as a priority - the touch screen had eliminated what she was most conversant with - the touch screen rideshare app or with transport on demand in the future that would make it hugely convenient for her to travel were not designed for her and many such people who needed shared mobility as a fundamental ingredient of life. If the taxi call center would go away- she would not be able to go teach, or do groceries or go to her doctor! There are several such stories of the economically weaker section as well! Any divide that separates us- ability or economically - should not define our ability to approach or reach the opportunity !
To break the cycle to fully allow people to capitalize on opportunities we need to transport those in need to where their needs can be met- be it jobs, educations, healthcare or other forms of activities, in the most economical manner- so that transportation and digitization don't divide but unite the people. We need to start with making transportation a fundamental right !