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Innovative Tech Alone Won’t Do

The impact of Covid-19 is tremendous and multifaceted. This requires equally tremendous and multifaceted responses. A wide-ranging innovation is required to combat the virus. The same will be true for the aftermath as well. An enabler, in the context of a to be feared transportation breakdown in the UK, seems to be policy development and regulation. [1]

Every day, in normal times, 8 million people take either a bus or the underground in London. As London looks to begin opening after the lockdown it faces a different kind of crisis, as pointed out by Douglas Bell. This is a crisis that is a consequence of Covid-19: a transportation breakdown. The problem can be put simply. 8 million people will need to travel around London, but a significant portion cannot use the public transportation system as it is. The potential for a transportation collapse is high. 

A key, unexpected it seems, part of this potential perfect storm is regulation. In particular the regulation of small electric transport. As Bell points out, “e-scooter innovators have been effectively banned from the U.K. market, because out-of-date U.K. Road Traffic laws classify e-scooters as ‘motorized vehicles”. Because of this classifications e-scooters would have to have turn signals, brake lights, mirrors, and so on, just like a regular car, as well as be limited to operation on roads. The suggestion is that a reclassification of e-scooters as bicycles should be taken. 


Personal comments

Regulative innovation is not as exciting or sexy as innovative tech. New innovations in electric cars, smartphones, and digital platforms capture headlines, but it is crucial to recognize that whatever the latest tech innovation is regulative innovation is required. It is refreshing to see such a clear connection made in the media. It also raises the question of how regulation can play a critical part in how we respond to the wide and far-reaching consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Written by Joshua Bronson, RISE.



1. 2020-04-30. London Is Heading for Public Transport Paralysis. Why Urgent Innovation Is Needed