Ongoing Shift in Mobility
Future Mobility as an Open Global Marketplace
Whether it’s the growth of electrified mobility solutions, the increasing interest in autonomous vehicles, both passenger and buses, or in some cases, new forms of urban air mobility, our cities and regions are experiencing a significant infusion of new mobility services, coupled with an evolving mix of public transit services.
Regardless of the terms we use, what our industry has recognised is that the mobility landscape has changed forever.
This fragmentation in the industry creates consumer choice and increased competition, but at the same time makes it increasingly difficult for people to figure out the best way to get from A to B in their own cities, and worse yet, in cities they are visiting.
This landscape has given rise to new forms of mobility aggregation, commonly referred to as Mobility as a Service (MaaS), or occasionally Mobility on Demand or new mobility. The goal of MaaS is to enable more seamless access to public and private mobility services for users, either in a Pay As You Go model or a subscription model, as companies like Whim pioneered.
Most companies that offer MaaS-like solutions today still subscribe to the web 2.0 approach to intermediation. They seek to create moats around their solution, own their users, negotiate arrangements with non-competing modes of service – e.g. negotiate with the largest taxi operator in a city – and offer closed implementations in a particular city, disconnected with the rest of the global mobility ecosystem.
However, what if the MaaS community embraced a more open approach to creating an interoperable local, but global, mobility ecosystem?
IOT and Mobility
I have spent more than a decade in the smart cities space, where the Internet of Things (IoT) has become big business. IoT suggests that any device can be connected to the internet and then connected to each other, to achieve more seamless access to aggregated sources of data and services. We believe IoM or the Internet of Mobility takes MaaS to a similar level of local and global interoperability.
If we create an open protocol and API allowing any mobility service – public, private, startup or established incumbent – the opportunity to connect to this protocol, then we can enable any mobility device to be connected to the Iomob protocol and therefore be discoverable by any MaaS app connected to the protocol.
What are the tangible benefits to the Internet of Mobility (IoM):
- 1. 1. Democratised access to an open ecosystem: in IoM, there are no particular monopoly benefits to the largest entrenched services that are often given exclusive access to web 2.0 MaaS solutions. Small and medium sized mobility services, startups and even individual providers can be connected to the Iomob protocol.
- 2. 2. In Madrid, 18 different companies received licenses to offer shared electric scooter services. In a closed MaaS model, perhaps only 1 of those services would be exposed to MaaS customers. For users of an open system, they get the benefit of discovering the nearest service to them that best meets their needs at that point in time. If a taxi or a scooter is most beneficial, many users would prefer the closest one, regardless of the brand, without having to download and onboard 18 different scooter apps!
- 3. 3. With IoM, the protocol enables interoperability for users of any app connected to the protocol – anywhere in the world. This means that any user of any app connected to the Iomob protocol can access mobility services in any city where there are mobility services connected to the protocol. We call this “Global Roaming”.
- 4. 4. Any MaaS provider, public transit authority or startup can connect their app to the Iomob protocol, gaining access to the multimodal routing algorithms, and the mobility services connected to the protocol for their users anywhere in the world
In IoT, any device can be connected to the web and then to each other. In IoM, any mobility device – a scooter, bike, skateboard, helicopter, train, bus – can be connected to the protocol and then to each other, to offer seamless mobility experiences at home and abroad.
About Boyd Cohen*
Boyd Cohen will be speaking at SHIFT Automotive, which is taking place from 10-11 September 2019 in Berlin, in conjunction with IFA, the world’s leading trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances.