Although public transport is omnipresent in modern cities, many people still prefer taking the car, which in many cases is undeniably more user friendly. A car takes you directly to your destination whilst public transport tends to be more complicated. Often, multiple changes are required and the interconnection between different means of transport seems to be absent or unduly complicated.
Besides efficiency, cars are a personal possession. It puts people at ease to travel between places in their individual, secluded bubble. Public transport from the other hand makes you feel like one of the many. Everyone being offered the same service often results in a lacking personal experience and a missing continuity throughout a journey.
While the longer the more cities aim for a car-free core, the demand for mobility continues to expand. Could it be possible to utilise technology in order to transform outdated transport systems and make them more attractive to use?
Look at a different field: IT for example. Multinational Apple succeeded to create a continuity of experience throughout all its devices. The iCloud service ensures that preferences, e-mail, contacts, documents, pictures, bookmarks and so on are accessible from whatever device you are using. The experience of using an iPad is quite similar to the one of using an iPhone for example. You immediately feel at home and have access to all your personal files. If you buy a brand new device, chances are that you do not need to make any configuration: personal apps, documents and settings stored in the cloud will set-up the device to your liking automatically.
Imagine this principle being implemented in the field of mobility. What type of information is vital to have in a cloud in order to create a continuous experience regardless what mode of transportation you take?
This ‘mobility cloud’ unites personal and transport information: the former must ensure a better user experience, the latter a better efficiency. The platform should be able to suggest interconnected routes based on real time information and personal preferences. It does not only bridge the gap between various vehicles, it also provides a reservation and digital payment system covering the entire journey.
The necessary transport information is provided by the different service operators, comes from other users, or from sensors that are integrated in the vehicles. All these sources are combined and processed in order to provide users with the most accurate and efficient information possible.
In order to serve individual needs, travellers can pre-set parameters like speed, price, comfort, environmental impact etc. In return, they can enjoy a personal service within a public system. This experience might offer a valid alternative for the personal space and atmosphere cars provide nowadays.
(Frederik Deschuytter, Wouter Haspeslagh)