The need for mobility-focused innovation is not just a nice-to-have to save some time behind the wheel. Traffic-related accidents are among the top killers in the US. In fact almost 40,000 people died in a one-year in 2016, making it the deadliest year in almost a decade.

No one knows these stats better than the company leaders who are trying to introduce new solutions. Hari Srinivasan, CEO of Signal labs states, "More people die in traffic accidents than war and malaria combined.  Ninety percent of these accidents are driver errors and 50 percent are due to under-informed drivers."

Now is an ideal time for business owners to use their talent to make a difference, specifically related to traffic, transportation and mobility. Sometimes the greatest opportunity to do good and do well is on the road less traveled.

So where are the opportunities in mobility and transportation? Here are three areas that hold promise.

1.  Software + Hardware + Data + AI

Industry veteran, Trafficware, is now in its fourth decade. Even though their Synchro and SimTraffic traffic analysis software is used in more than 90 countries, they are far from complacent. They continue to introduce new solutions including the cloud-based traffic signal performance measures (SPM), a SaaS solution for storing and analyzing high-resolution data from traffic signals.

Trafficware is a strong example of a company that is bridging software and hardware and ushering a very traditional industry towards mining data and leveraging artificial intelligence.

Sam Macklin at CA Technologies believes companies that can serve this role will make all of the categories more relevant. "Whether this next wave of innovation is all about AI, IoT or a combination of both, we can be sure organizations that succeed in tomorrow's digital economy will be those that can use innovation to deliver true value. "

2. Consulting Services

Don't have an app or product idea? Don't despair. You don't necessarily have to build a 'thing' if you want to be a part of the transportation building boom. Research and consulting companies like DKS Associates advise clients on transportation planning and engineering. 

Adrian Pearmine, National Director of Smart Cities & Connected Vehicles for DKS, offers valuable insight on industry trends. He believes the mobility space is still in its early stages and there is immense opportunity for entrepreneurs.

"Self driving cars are all the rage in the media right now.  But while companies like Uber, Waymo, Lyft and GM are grabbing all of the headlines; there are many other ways that technology is transforming the way that people travel.  Mobile trip planning apps and payment systems, for example, are making transportation options available that people either didn't know about or that took too many steps for them to utilize. Startups and entrepreneurs are behind many of these."

Companies like DPP Tech, based out of San Francisco, help city CIOs optimize their IT systems and get the most value from significant technology purchases.. President Puran Moorjani saw that there was an opportunity to enhance products like MS Office 365, Sharepoint, Salesforce and PeopleSoft. Smart entrepreneurs know that the best businesses are built by addressing an unmet need. 

3. Security

Everything that is new is connected. In our homes we welcome wifi-enabled coffee makers and voice-controlled wireless devices like Amazon's Echo and Alexa. It all has an IP address.

Take that to the streets in some of the world's top smart cities and you'll quickly see that every part of your journey is completely connected. LED streetlights, synchronized traffic systems, emergency response vehicles and even our own personal cars and SUVs - they are all wired together and to the Internet.

This creates seamless convenience but can also result in a major nightmare if these connection points are not secured. Internet security is an imperative that grows exponentially with every new connected device. Offering new, better and more secure systems is now part of the modernization package.

Much about the world will change in very short order; but some things will remain the same. People need to get from Point A to Point B and back around. There will always be a hunger for better, faster, more responsive (and more secure) ways to move people and things.

The future is teaming with opportunity for the entrepreneur who can unlock, connect and scale each or all of these opportunities. While hardware and software continue to grab the big headlines there are plenty of other avenues to explore.