Disruptive MaaS — when data integration matters

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is a relatively new concept which proposes an ecosystem of transportation services, public or private, that combine to transport people in the most efficient possible way. These multimodal transportation services interconnect with each other to provide an integrated solution. For example, a shared scooter that takes us from the corner near our house to the train station. The train that takes us to the city center, the bus we took from the central train station, or the shared bike that takes us to our final destination.

There are other similar terms which have become popular recently, like Transport as a Service (TaaS). So we should first differentiate between the concepts of "transport" and "mobility." Whereas the first is much more associated with supply, infrastructure, the vehicle, or the transport of goods, the second has a more human side and is much more demand related. Mobility is usually defined as people’s ability to move through physical space. Therefore, a commodity cannot be "mobile" by itself, but a person can.

Moving away from the idea that mobility is either a private, personal matter for each user or a public service, both concepts are now being hybridized. Characteristics that, until now, were alien to public transport services, like vehicle ownership, shared use, pay-per-use, or different subscription types, are now becoming mobility services offered by private companies. For example, service providers for shared scooters, bicycles, or even vans to go to work. Taken together, they act as an alternative to the private car.

Looking back, and given that shared mobility has historically been linked to public transport, most large European cities already have a solid transport infrastructure capable of moving hundreds of thousands of people every day. For this reason, the platforms that integrate these services, which can be private or public, must have real-time data on the location of each vehicle, the availability of seats, or the time required to transition from one vehicle to another.

MaaS is, therefore, very disruptive and positive, especially since it works through data interconnection. And this is the most important part: open knowledge will lead to more efficient use of existing or future transport networks. Ultimately, in a shared and combined way, MaaS will lead us to a much more inclusive, efficient and sustainable model of transport than our current one.

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