By Scott Shepard, Vice President Global Public Sector at Iomob
Mobility as a Service (MaaS) has experienced a deeper level of scrutiny and re-assessment over the past few months. There have been many articles, op eds, webinars, and podcasts devoted to the topic of commercial and business model sustainability for MaaS platforms, public and private. In addition, the use cases that demonstrate long term viability of MaaS have also been deconstructed to better understand how they can best serve consumers and society at large.
Through this deeper level of introspection, many different (and consistent) themes have been discussed and circulated amongst the mobility ecosystem for a better understanding of the current landscape. Those themes include: 1.) business models, 2.) geographic context, 3.) data sharing, 4.) ownership, 5.) user experience, and 6.) openness. While it is out of the scope of this article, an additional consideration that should be considered relates to two of the themes (ownership and openness). This multi-dimensional variable is related to Governance.
The definition of Governance is: “All of the processes of governing — whether undertaken by the government of a state, by a market, or by a network — over a social system (family, tribe, formal or informal organization, a territory or across territories) and whether through the laws, norms, power or language of an organized society.” Governance can take the forms of public, private, corporate, project, among many other dimensions. It is also interesting to note that these processes, which typically relate to more traditional societal functionals can also apply to complex digital systems that employ the connectivity and integration of data, technology, processes, policies, and regulations, such as MaaS.
So this brings us to the question, why is Governance important for the potential success of MaaS? To better answer that, we need to consider that most previous deployments over the past few years have been focused on single use cases, minimal private mobility supply, and lighter technology development (discovery only, deep linking to external platforms, and / or basic journey planning capabilities). In each of these instances, the technology, functionality, and procurement was relegated to demonstration projects on a more pilot focused level. Therefore, with this in mind, the consideration of a broader societal focus for the long term success of MaaS was constrained.
In looking at how governance structures and how they can enrich and benefit MaaS deployments, we need to consider that MaaS is not simply technology in and of itself. It is an entire ecosystem of layers (data, technology, stakeholders, operators, etc) that interplay with each other to create added business and societal value for urban, suburban, and rural contexts for offering shared mobility across the spectrum.
Specifically, governance is the glue that can enable these higher aspirations of MaaS depending on the individual actors, sponsors, agencies, and organizations involved. Seen through the lens of governance (typically at a regional level), more desired outcomes on a long term scale can be analyzed, assessed, and operationalize with regards to ensuring MaaS is here to stay.
For example, the MaaS in Skåne project currently under development by Iomob will deliver a regional, open multimodal shared mobility platform for municipalities including Malmo, Lund and Helsingborg, and to be launched in April. Iomob’s project aims to develop a scaleable MaaS solution, accomplished by increased accessibility, reduced environmental impact and congestion, through seamlessly connecting buses, trains, taxi, bicycles, scooters, car-sharing and so on, in one platform.
Iomob’s MaaS technology will be integrated via an SDK into the Skanetrafiken’s public transit app allowing Skane to manage their own MaaS platform with our next generation MaaS tech. But not just that, Skanetrafiken has embraced not only an open mobility marketplace (supporting a full range of public and private mobility services) but also an open MaaS marketplace. Iomob’s stack that will include all of Skanetrafiken’s transit fare options, plus our multimodal algorithms, integrated mobility marketplace and either an API, SDK or white label app, will be made available to other private sector MaaS operators and other organizations interested in offering seamless mobility to their customers or employees.
A regional governance and steering committee of political and business stakeholders including representatives from Skanetrafiken, Innovation Skane, Swedish Energy Agency, and Municipalities of Malmo, Lund, and Helsingborg (Skane Region) has been formed to evalute the rules and frameworks around multiple topics. These topics include: data, technology, MSPs, societal / environmental goals, equity / access, and procurement. Why this regional governance model is important is because it is rules-based (similar to the European Union), and serves as a multi-stakeholder policy and decision-making body that sets the terms of governance and structure in place to pilot, test. deploy, and ultimately commercialize such a MaaS platform across the region (and linkages to multiple adjacent regions).
In viewing MaaS (or ultimately MoD — Mobility on Demand and the accomodation of the movement of people and goods) through the lens of regional governance, it can seen that these rules-based structures can enable platforms that truly embrace openness for consumers and society at large. A regional governance model and framework also facilitates the opportunity to build open mobility marketplaces that are 1.) more competitive, 2.) prevent public and private monopolies, and 3.) move away from single instance white label walled garden deployments.
The promise for MaaS and MoD is around societal openness, and regional governance models (typically comprised of a balanced mix of public and private representatives) provide the structure such that services and solutions can be flexibly deployed and distributed across mobility marketplaces for public and private actors to offer more enriched consumer-facing experiences and democratizing the shared mobility landscape in urban, suburban, and rural settings.