The future of mobility – drones, driverless cars, and implications for the NFP sector

Drones and driverless cars are advancing in leaps and bounds. Advances in mobility tech across a variety of sectors will have a number of implications for NFPs. Drones are being used in construction, agriculture and mining, to monitor operations and identify hot spots that require attention, faster and with greater accuracy than traditional people powered site inspections. At scale, these advances can cut the cost of production and reduce prices.

Saving lives

Drones are also being used to save lives. The New York Fire Department is using drones to inspect high risk fires before sending in firefighters, while ambulance drones are able to get medication and even defibrillators to patients faster than a road ambulance. Meanwhile, NSW is deploying the Little Ripper Drone to monitor for sharks and for search and rescue.

Hitting the streets

Driverless cars will be the biggest shift in transportation since the transition from the horse and cart. By 2040, it’s predicted that 75% of people will own a driverless car. This means that kids born today may never need a driver’s licence. Driverless vehicles are already being used extensively in industrial settings.

While the regulatory and social change required for driverless vehicles is complex, we’re starting to see driverless vehicles on our roads. General Motors is tripling its driverless fleet of vehicles, having invested more than $500 million in driverless tech. Globally there has been more than 10 million miles of testing over the last 7 years on public roads. Futurist Steve Sammartino predicts that driverless vehicles for logistics and transport will be a regular sight on Australian roads, with on road trials for driverless vehicles underway right across the country. In Perth, one of the world’s first on road trials for driverless buses has carried thousands of passengers in the last 12 months.

Mobility technology will have a major impact on transport, supply chains and service delivery over the next generation. Before these new technologies take off, there are a number of ways NFPs can make the most of mobile tech right now.

The pressure is on for NFPs

As the gig economy takes off and initiatives like NDIS are increasing the casualisation of the workforce, more and more people are working for multiple organisations, increasing the need to communicate effectively outside of the office. Compliance obligations are increasing record keeping requirements. Claiming payments, auditing service delivery and measuring outcomes all require timely record keeping.

At the same time, cost increases and environmental issues are also putting the pressure on. Leaders are questioning traditional approaches to private offices, deskbound staff and paper based record keeping.  While these pressures have been increasing, the quality and reliability of technology has gone up exponentially, while costs have come down substantially, with many solutions available for free or nearly free. Video conferencing through Skype and Facetime makes it seamless to keep in touch with remote workers and national or global teams. Remote access via laptops and smart phones can enable your staff to spend more time on site with clients rather than going back and forth to the office to process paperwork.

Making the most of mobile

What mobile solutions are you using in your organisation?

  • Laptops with remote access to allow staff to work from home
  • Tablets and smart phones to allow staff to access client data in the field and undertake real time reporting
  • Connecting your core systems to the cloud to allow anytime access to your data
  • Building stronger bonds with your volunteers through mobile apps
  • Video conferencing to stay connected to remote and displaced teams

With an open mind and the right technology, the opportunities created by a more mobile workforce are substantial. So many NFPs have only scraped the surface of the technology available today, let alone planned for the opportunities of the mobility tech that’s around the corner. Today and tomorrow, mobility tech has the power to reduce costs, improve efficiency and also improve outcomes for your beneficiaries, and even improve the lifestyle of your employees. Neuroscience is providing evidence of the value of human contact, and it can’t be cut from every transaction, but it’s time to make the judgement call about which activities and services can go digital, and which need to remain face to face.

Jane Arnott
General Manager, Consulting and Business Services
Phone: 1300 284 364


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