This blog outlines the opportunities of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) and the challenges in applying MaaS in a local scope. Additionally, what is perhaps of the highest interest, I will also describe a real-life case example from the South Carelia region.
Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is going to transform the way we experience traveling, commuting, and ultimately, the way how we perceive vehicle ownership. New door-to-door services are emerging combining physical mobility and digital services to produce high-quality amenities to meet the users’ needs. As the connectivity grows, more and more transport service chains will work seamlessly together forming a comprehensive grid for customers to travel as they please.
We are currently in a phase where technological development is simultaneously taking place in multiple sectors and providers, which is forming the foundation to build comprehensive mobility services. Wireless connectivity, portable devices, intelligent cars, location services – all are needed to generate information crucial to the development of these applications.
We have seen many innovative applications made possible by the digital transformation as Uber or Lyft, but they all have one thing in common. They seem to be focused on concentrated urban areas. Naturally, the new transformative businesses will launch their services to where the user base is, but what about more rural areas? The areas which are perhaps being trampled by urbanization in the forms of population loss, diminishing services, and aging population.
As public services are under budget pressure, many municipalities may have to consider undesirable cuts to services. One service being public transportation. As public transport costs are high where distances are vast and the user base is steadily decreasing, how can communities make sure that the residents can still get to wherever they would be going? An elderly person who relies on family for the weekly groceries? A person who wants to go to the optician in the nearest city and doesn’t have a car?
Take a cab and pay possibly hundreds for the trip?
What to do?
Often the concept of these new mobility services is perceived only to tackle the problems of certain universal scope. How to get from the office to the next meeting quickly? How to commute inexpensively? How to effortlessly juggle with taxis, rental cars, and public transport?
However, it is possible to utilize these services in a local scope as well and bring flexibility and freedom of movement to all areas. The Regional Council of South Carelia started piloting MaaS utilization using the flexibility of the Good Sign Solution in collaboration with WSP Finland as the service designer. South Carelia aimed to tackle problems presented in three South Carelian counties.
The pilot, “Kutsutaksi” is combining the rideshare idealism with traffic contractors to make mobility more readily available and more cost-efficient. By utilizing the Good Sign Software as the service engine, the South Carelia region was able to form a service that combines the practicality of a taxi and the cost-effectiveness of a ride-share. The service gathers the date and time of the transport requests, optimizes the pick-up and drop-off routes, and activates when preconditions are met. The contractors have a portal to manage the ongoing and future rides and the system automatically allocates the costs between the parties.
Judging by the preliminary feedback of the ongoing pilot, users have been able to greatly reduce the effort of transportation and increase the overall quality of living.
Even though the conception of modern mobility services can be limited to a certain scope, the spectrum of possible uses is much wider than what first comes to mind. These services which can simplify many areas of living should not be overlooked when thinking of investments or business possibilities. Think out of the box because in the modern world with modern tools, even the complex functionality isn’t really complex anymore.