Melina Christina

UK & Europe

Melina is a consultant in Atkins' Intelligent Mobility team. Her primary focus is around journey management and behaviour change, particularly how this can be achieved thanks to new technology. She recently completed a research paper on incentives to encourage off-peak travel as part of the Transport Planning Society's bursary scheme. This paper investigated the effectiveness of rewards system and smart phone application displaying real time and historical crowding information - you can read the paper here.

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Often used as a buzz word, everyone talks about it but it seems there has been some confusion and lack of clarity on what this actually includes, and how, for example, this differs from the ITS sector or the ‘smart city’ concept. Definitions could be summarised as initiatives using technology to:

  • Improve current transport systems, by making them whether more efficient/less costly (e.g. electric vehicles, wireless induction charging) or more convenient (e.g. City Mapper, contactless payment, AutoPilot from Tesla); and
  • Provide new opportunities to move around, e.g. Uber, self-service bike-sharing scheme, Drive Now from BMW.

Considering those two angles, whether improving the existing or creating new mobility opportunities; one could argue what is new about this? For generations, engineers and scientists have been trying to do exactly the same - achieve those two goals, with a similar approach which is using ‘new’ technologies available at the time.  A simple example is the inventors of the internal-combustion engine whom we can’t deny they were doing ‘intelligent mobility’.

Some will disagree and say that Intelligent Mobility includes the focus on user needs and a real personalisation of the journey. Again, transport has always been on meeting user needs and putting the user at the centre of the journey somehow. What is more personalised than the private car? Current technology, especially based on the mobile phone, has generated opportunities for personalisation and indeed to a greater extent than anything possible before. It is this shift that creates a new framework and stimulates a change in behaviour that helps to make Intelligent Mobility a new trend.

Fundamentally, Intelligent Mobility is about innovating and thinking differently, based on the new opportunities technology brings us.

However, it is important to note that the concept of sharing resources, whether bicycles or cars, or partnering with a party from another discipline (e.g. Airbnb with Tesla) to create new solutions, or developing a new business model (e.g. MaaS) are firstly founded on human intelligent ideas and secondly, amplified by technology.

To learn more about Atkins' Intelligent Mobility solutions click here. Join the conversation here

UK & Europe,

Every sixty seconds, Facebook users ‘like’ around 4 million posts, Apple users download 51,000 apps and Skype users make 110,040 calls (DOMO, 2015). The amount of data generated has grown exponentially, with 90% of data produced over the last two years (SINTEF). For example, if we look at the internet, the first billion of connected users was reached in 12 years, the second billion in 5 years, and the third billion in 4 years.

Taking the local authorities and transport operators as an example, the valuable knowledge lying within the data and in particular the generation of readily accessible information has created the following opportunities:

Generating value: e.g. live bus arrivals allowing passengers to use their time more effectively, real-time parking availability reducing the time drivers spend searching for a parking space etc.

Doing things more efficiently: e.g. use of digital payment which has reduced cost and process time at stations

Generating new capabilities and insights: e.g. passengers having easy access to more travel options due to journey planning apps, giving passengers more control of their journey

However, many cities have not made the most of the vast quantity of data they already have. Work still needs to be done in terms of combining and analysing data from separate organisations, implementing open data policy, and exploiting  private sector data (e.g. from mobile phone networks or logistic companies). There are numerous challenges and questions to address, such as what the value of opening up the data will be, what data access and usage rights are required, what skills are needed to become digital and what governance should be adopted (i.e. who owns or should own the data). All these challenges should not be addressed independently and answers to those vary greatly depending on the type of organisations and the objectives to be achieved. 

How network operators and local authorities can make the most of the data currently available, in a secure way, and still satisfy their customer needs is a critical question. Two key points to consider are:

1. Data interoperability is key to achieve the full benefits of digitalisation. An independent data broker role between different data providers should be used in order to link various internal and external data sets together. This role can be fulfilled by either the private or public sector. 

2. Local authorities need to understand the impact of new mobility systems which have developed as a result of digitalisation, in order to plan with them rather than compete, e.g. how Uber and Lyft have impacted the use of more conventional transport systems (e.g. bus networks) and to what extent.  

Taking this a step further, digitalisation gives us the opportunity to do things differently and truly respond to citizens’ needs, for instance, by  allowing car-pooling for commuting (e.g. Wayz-Up in France) or pop-up microbus systems (e.g. Bridj in the US).  However, these new mobility systems are still yet to be proved resilient, as demonstrated by the closure of Kutsuplus last year (on-demand bus service in Helsinki). This is partly due to the difficulty of achieving the right scale to make the economics of ride sharing really work (i.e. cost of the ride vs. benefit).

That said, it is evident that data can support transport planning and add significant value to our city infrastructure but the challenge lies in getting the balance right to ensure we are in a position to take advantage of this market. 

UK & Europe,