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Mobility-as-a-Service isn’t a buzzword, it’s already here…

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Fleetondemand CEO, Justin Whitston puts forward the case for Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) and Internet of Things (IoT) with examples of initiatives already disrupting the way we travel in 2017.

justin

Fleetondemand CEO, Justin Whitston.

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 customized 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 vocabulary in the fleet industry. 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.

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 recently 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.

Connected cities

The concept of a connected 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 its 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. Data collected through the Singapore network allows the government to analyse, assess and make recommendations regarding public space cleanliness, crowd density, traffic congestion and even littering.

Mobility-as-a-Service apps

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.

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.

For the fleet industry, API ready apps like Mobilleo provide an exciting opportunity for leasing companies, car rental platforms and fleet managers to plug in their services and widen their offering to the application’s user base.

Car sharing

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. The automotive industry is already investing in Mobility-as-a-Service initiatives, but it’s not as a replacement, it’s as a complimentary service to corporate fleets.

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 utilize 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.

Biometric data for travel

The evolution of the Internet of Things and Mobility-as-a-Service isn’t just restricted to electronics and engineering. 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”.

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?

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 automotive 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.

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Natalie Middleton

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