A message emerging from experiments with intelligent mobility in Europe’s smart cities is the importance of urban sharing. My article about Oslo City Bike explored how micro forms of transport, such as bicycles, can plug gaps and create seamless journeys. But the simple act of taking a taxi ride or walking – and sharing the data about the steps taken – unlocks value, too, and builds new ecosystems around intelligent mobility.
French start-up WeWard has designed a mobile application that secures geolocation data and rewards users for each step they take and share. Users trade their step data in return for rewards or “Wards” they can spend at relevant outlets on their journeys, explains Yves Benchimol, co-founder of WeWard.
“Users authorise us to use their geolocation and step data to profile them and personalise the point of interest they can view on the app,” says Benchimol. Users get to not only check their physical steps, but more importantly, he continues, they can earn rewards for the steps they take inside a “point-of-interest” for a partner of WeWard.
“Our retail partners are interested in this combination of geolocation and steps data, since it enables them to determine certain elements of the shoppers’ profile that they were not aware of,” he adds. “This includes where they live and work, what type of commute they have, and whether they seem to be regularly visiting rival stores, or are visiting the partners’ sales outlets.”
Taxi rides also have a part to play in creating more joined-up and connected cities, argues Safa Alkateb, chief executive officer of Autocab. He believes that the taxi industry can use data collected by customer trips to build a picture of passenger habits, and therefore help innovation in the transport sector.
“From an intelligent mobility perspective, taxi data is an example of how the transport as a service (TaaS) model will work,” says Alkateb. “In the future, our connected transport system will be powered by data — it is taxis that are gathering this data at the moment, making hundreds of personalised journeys through our towns and cities each day.”
Algorithms located in the cloud are helping innovators detect patterns in data amassed from citizen and customer journeys and are making intelligent mobility a reality. The cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) help us to better understand passenger habits — about how, when and where we travel. “It is helping us to lay the foundations for travel within smart cities,” says Alkateb.
Whether data is gathered from citizens’ steps, taxi rides or bike journeys, their destinations, routes and modes of travel are highly prized by retailers, town halls and other stakeholders in urban areas. City halls, insurance companies and supermarkets are potential partners in intelligent mobility — and when citizens can share their mobility data, it’s a win-win.