In early 2011, the Ford Motor Company launched an innovative concept called Sustainable Urban Mobility with Uncompromised Rural Reach (SUMURR). SUMURR seeks to examine how Ford could use its vehicles and its technology platforms to bridge the mobility gap for isolated, rural communities by providing them with sustainable access to key services such as healthcare, clean water, and education. Ford is not planning on entering any of these spaces, but rather is interested in exploring the commercial opportunities, both new and traditional that might arise from supporting these new markets.
The primary goal of SUMURR is to both gain intelligence on and shape the market by bridging the mobility gap for underserved rural populations. To achieve this goal, Ford identified three key project strategies:
- Leverage Ford’s vehicles and technology platforms by testing the technical capabilities of Ford’s innovative new OpenXC platform.
- Engage global and local stakeholders by collaborating with partners on the implementation of the project.
- Explore new market opportunities by conducting an analysis of local social and market needs.
The Ford Motor Company, from its global headquarters, enlisted eight partner organizations globally to pilot the SUMURR concept and determine if it was viable. In 2012, the partners launched the SUMURR Maternal and Child Health Pilot project in southern India, which ran for a duration of nine months from June 2012 – February 2013.
The pilot was a test of SUMURR’s ability to enhance the accessibility of quality healthcare for pregnant women and newborns in the isolated and underserved Kalrayan Hills community by mobilizing the community health workers using a Ford Endeavor, and augmenting their ability to access government health information systems via mobile applications. At the end of the implementation period, the SUMURR pilot reached almost half the total population of this region.
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