What holds MaaS together is the underlying digital mobility platform that is open, data-driven and capable of providing a level playing field for all service providers for the benefit of citizens.
According to an estimate, India’s urban population will increase from 377 million in 2011 to 594 million in 2036 – a growth of 57 percent. This will be a significant addition of people to cities already stressed with limited resources. Amongst others, traffic congestion is already one of the foremost challenges to city authorities. Longer journeys raised levels of pollution, a higher number of automobile accidents, and a lowered quality of life would be among those challenges requiring the urgent attention of city planners and authorities.
The country, having seen rapid urbanization, is expected to keep adding people to its bustling cities even as the novel coronavirus halts, and indeed reverses, albeit temporarily, a migration to the country’s urban areas. This may clog India’s urban streets in the future and prevent mobility from providing what it essentially should: freedom of movement.
Today in India, we are faced with a couple of situations when it comes to urban mobility. On one hand, we have multiple modes of travel ranging from private vehicles like bikes and cars to public transport like metro rail and buses. On the other hand, we have a discerning urban commuter with expectations of commutes that can be customized, are sustainable and importantly, accessible via phones.
Not all of this is easy with differing modes of payment and challenges with route planning. This often leads to people falling back to their private cars and other forms of transport even if there are better options available. The statistics are telling: on an average India adds more than 50,000 cars per day adding to the congestion and pollution on its streets.
As the country looks forward to develop the smart cities of the future, what can be the option to plan your travel or daily commute in a better way? One that considers different modes of travel and the associated planning and payments in a seamlessly integrated manner on a single platform which could belike a smartphone app.
This is the premise of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) where different forms of transport are presented as options before the traveler on a single and integrated platform. This service can be anchored around a core of metros, buses and trains and complemented by shared services like cars and bikes. This ties in both public and private transport modes to present suitable options to the traveler.
The user needs to access MaaS on his or her phone, plan the journey, make payments using the phone itself, and simply switch between travelling modes to reach the destination. This is beneficial for both the traveler and the city authorities, as travel becomes more efficient and more sustainable.
What holds MaaS together is the underlying digital mobility platform – which is open, data-driven and capable of providing a level playing field for all service providers for the benefit of citizens. Above all, the platform must be cyber-secure to safeguard the privacy of users. Thales, a recognized player in the field of cybersecurity, relies on its expertise and its research laboratories in defense to offer all its customers robust solutions that allow them to benefit from the advantages of modern signaling and digitalization.
It is this platform that offers route planning, booking, ticketing, customer services and payment on a single platform. Services can be consumed on the go, or bundled into a product or subscription and consumed as-a-service. This one platform must consider aspects like mode of transport, price, journey duration and real-time traffic and weather conditions.
For its effective performance, this platform needs to have certain attributes.
It must also allow for interoperability by defining standards that bring together diverse offerings and technologies seamlessly. It must also be able to improve the overall transport ecosystem and user experience by leveraging the rich depository of analytical data that it will hold. Entry barriers must also be lowered to enable participation from diverse transport providers. Lastly, as a repository of data, the platform should be secure and trustworthy.
To account for the rising population, and hence the number of commuters, of our cities, the system must also be scalable, modular and have an open cloud-based architecture to account for the rise in the number of mobility users. At the same time, authorities should be able to easily integrate the system into existing revenue collection systems to provide a seamless fare collection stream.
All this must happen while providing sufficiently high levels of cyber security to protect the privacy of users. The approach should be to address cyber security concerns at every stage of the information security lifecycle. Thus ‘Mobility as a Service’ platforms can enable city transport authorities and citizens to cope with the growth of mobility demand and traffic congestion in the coming years.