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Mobility as a Service is here

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MaaS – disrupting how we travel today

Mobility as a Service is the latest trend on everyone’s lips in both the business and travel industry. Last month General Motors announced the expansion of their monthly car-sharing plan Maven. A month before, Deloitte issued a whitepaper predicting substantial growth for Mobility-as-a-Service initiatives worldwide but is Mobility-as-a-Service (or MaaS for short) just the next buzzword?

Mobility-as-a-Service is a term that encompasses the use of technology to connect and improve all aspects of travel. The philosophy can be applied for a broad range of technologies from autonomous cars through to connected cities. For businesses, MaaS initiatives aim to unify all modes of transport for a business into one simple and easy to use platform with the objective of improving cost and efficiency through shorter travel planning and cost comparison. For families or solo travelers, Mobility-as-a-Service aims to improve the planning and management of travel into a customised journey without all the stress and hassle of searching through multiple booking search engines.

2017 isn’t the year that Mobility-as-a-Service will break through and come to fruition, but it is the year that it will become a familiar piece of technology vocabulary. The Internet of Things is already firmly established and now provides a real technological platform for Mobility-as-a-Service to thrive. We can expect the next 12 months will be full of speculation, disagreement and therorising from the industry about just what it is and how it will work. With this in mind, here are 5 Mobility-as-a-Service initiatives already up and running in 2017 to look out for.

1. Driverless Cars

Uber’s driverless car pilot may have been recently halted after one of its vehicles smashed into another car before rolling over in Arizona, but autonomous vehicles remain the showcase feature where Mobility-as-a-Service is concerned. The initiative isn’t only exclusive to the automotive industry however. Intel last week announced a record-breaking deal to acquire self-driving company MobilEye for $15.3bn.

Whilst still in early stages, the application of MaaS for driverless cars won’t necessarily be the technology but rather how it can be applied to our moving world. For Uber, it allows them to operate an always-on, lower cost fleet of taxis. Driverless cars allow them to expand their fleet and scope of operations at any time in any place.

Removal of the human element of transportation should please consumers as they’re more likely to get quicker access to a vehicle at a cheaper rate.

2. Connected Cities

The concept of a connected city is nothing new and has long been a favoured topic of conversation in both the tech community and city planning circles. The concept of a connect city revolves around how urban city life is affected by technology. The purpose being that participants of a connected city are able to leverage real-time data, in-situ technology and the Internet of Things to interact with the city’s resources (whether that’s transportation links, its attractions, or even its environment).

Recent research suggested that there are now more than 250 Smart City projects in 178 cities worldwide. Singapore is widely recognized at one of the best examples of Mobility-as-a-Service in action. The Singapore project has been deploying large numbers of sensors and cameras across the island in order to facilitate widescale analysis and measurement of data. Data collected through the network allows the government to analyse, assess and make recommendations regarding public space cleaniness, crowd density, traffic congestion and even littering.

3. Mobility-as-a-Service applications for business

Applications of MaaS to the corporate world are often ignored in favour of focusing on “sexier” technologies like self-driving cars, but it is in business that MaaS could have a significant impact. Mobility in the business world encompasses corporate company car fleets, expense claim procedures and business travel policies. Depending on the industry, how a business moves its employees can be a complicated and costly process.

Take a routine business trip in the sales industry as an example. An employee is likely to spend 30 minutes to an hour planning, searching and booking their journey before it’s even started. Depending on the complexity of the journey and destination, this could involve a high volume of micro-costs depending on route of transport, for example;

By Car

By Train

By Air

On foot

Scheduling use of company car

Journey and connection planningCar fuel costs to/from airportRoute planning

Ensuring employee is insured

Ticket collectionCar parking at airportTime efficiency – has time been wasted walking?

Mileage on vehicle

Ticket distribution to additional employeesTaxi costs to/from airport

Fuel costs

Food/drink expenses in transitFood/drink expenses at airport

Parking charges

WiFi usage on-boardLounge access costs

Wear and tear on vehicle

Employee car parking at train stationOn-board food/drink costs

Has the vehicle been driven correctly?

Taxi on train arrivalBaggage costs

Each option presents its own inefficiencies and costs outside the initial ticket/booking cost. Mobility-as-a-Service technologies on smartphones such as UK mobility-as-a-service app, Mobilleo, aim to consolidate travel, accommodation and vehicle management providers into one platform. Employees, financial directors, personal assistants – can all quickly see a comparison of the methods of transports based on factors such as speed, cost and even how environmentally friendly they are.

Quicker planning and access to all mobility data allows business to make better decisions on how they move employees as well as empower employees to make these decisions for themselves.

4. Acquisitions of Car Sharing companies

Deloitte recently reported that most cars are idle 95% of the time, meaning that for businesses with a fleet of company cars, there are huge operational inefficiencies. Ford’s global trend and futuring manager, Sheryl Connelly, recently penned an article stating, ‘the company car is dead’. Connelly is right when mentions that the automotive industry is investing in mobility as a service initiatives, but it’s not as a replacement, it’s as a complimentary service.

One such initiative that is bound to become more prevalent is the switch from ownership to usership. The Internet of Things has led to modern cars being equipped with GPS, WiFi and connectivity solutions as standard. Combined with the smartphone and its power to identify who you are, pay for a transaction and utilise GPS to tell you where you are, the time has never been so good for car sharing schemes. It’s no wonder that in the last 18 months we’ve seen acquisitions of car sharing companies from the likes of Enterprise, Europcar, General Motors, Audi, Avis, Peugeot. . . the list goes on.

5. Biometric data for travel

The evolution of the Internet of Things and Mobility-as-a-Service isn’t just restricted to electronics and engineering. Our biological data is now being used to connect computer information to the physical world. One of the world’s largest airlines, British Airways, is already using facial recognition technology at Heathrow airport to “capture a traveler’s features along with the boarding pass”. In this instance, the human body has become connected to a database.

British Airways believe that facial recognition software will allow your face to become the ticket and as such queues at boarding gates could be drastically reduced. Imagine employing that technology to them screening passengers for security threats, finding late passengers or even tailoring terminal advertising to individual demographic data. Computer data driven by biological data is true mobility-as-a-service in practice.

So, is Mobility-as-a-Service just a buzzword?

We’ve heard all about the latest trends – Big Data, SloMoLo, Gamification – so what is that confirms that MaaS is be considered seriously? More than anything, it’s the constant news from manufacturers, technology providers, venture capitalists all looking to invest in Mobility-as-a-Service. Daimler AG – parent company of Mercedes-Benz – took a 60% stake in taxi app Hailo (now rebranded as myTaxi) in 2016, Volkswagen invested in Gett, Toyota has been involved with Uber in the past and now General Motors are set to expand their car sharing offering.

A recent survey to automotive executives commissioned by KPMG reported that “85% of the executives surveyed were convinced their company might make more money by providing the new digital services than by selling cars alone”.

Needless to say, the travel industry are clearly viewing MaaS with serious consideration and intent. Expect to hear far more about Mobility-as-a-Service in 2017 and the years to come.


Justin Whitson

CEO of UK based industry leading automotive technology provider Fleetondemand. Justin founded Fleetondemand in 2011 and they have grown to be one of the leading providers of Enterprise Cloud Technology Applications to Automotive Service providers in both B2B and B2C markets in the UK.

Justin is featured in BusinessMaaS Top Mobility as a Service Influencers – You can see him here

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