Data-led mobility: are we at a defining moment?

Date: March 12th 2024 | Author: Catherine Goddard

Data was a standout theme of Transport Ticketing Global’s conference.

  • How to capture it
  • How to secure it
  • How to learn from it
  • How to share it

AI watershed year

On Day 1, from Michael Wooldridge’s opener ‘The year AI went viral’ to the closing panel, ‘Creating value from transit data’, mobility data was a constant thread.

Michael reflected that, although we don’t often recognise a watershed year until it’s passed, 2023 represented a tipping point in the use of machine learning in all walks of life. 

Personalising the mobility experience

Following Michael to the stage, Sue Walnut, Product Director (UK and Ireland) at Vix Technology, looked at how smart cities collect and share data. She talked about the potential this information exchange creates for connected and resilient mobility networks. 

Envisioning an account-based future for ‘digital citizens’, she said tokenisation would increase the opportunity for personalised, multi-modal experiences. She discussed how targeted incentives could drive behaviour change and motivate sustainable end-to-end journeys.

Rider-focus drives profitability

Next-up, Thea Fisher, Senior Director and Head of Urban Mobility at Visa, talked about the strides made in open-loop payments. She described how, with hundreds of deployments launching every year, the ‘tap-to-ride’ experience is becoming universal. It has gone from being an innovation to an expectation among mobility users.

It’s not just riders that benefit, she explained. The data generated by open-loop payments is helping operators to understand how their ticketing products and services are consumed. This learning, she added, supports their development of rider-focused offers. And this has the knock-on effect of improving performance and profitability. 

ABT as a ‘single source of truth’

Later in the day, Kevin Dobson, Product Owner at Vix Technology, examined how Account-Based Ticketing gives the ‘fare family’ – made up of passengers, operators and policy-makers – access to real-time data that provides a ‘single source of truth’.

For passengers, he explained, data is most valuable when it’s bang up-to-date, minimal and highly relevant. It should tell them what they need to know. For operators and policy-makers, it should provide insight that helps them adapt and improve fare policy.

In ABT, he added, fare system development is based on the user story. Payment data paints a picture of the needs and wants of people using mobility systems. With this information, the products and services that operators and agencies create are in tune with demand.

Underpin value and build trust

Sharing data with passengers in a timely and valuable way is at the heart of Google Wallet’s transit strategy, said Jonathan Hill, Google Wallet’s Head of Transit and Partnerships. 

He highlighted a partnership with Littlepay, which is enabling passengers to opt-in to bring their transit operator’s brand into the Google Wallet. The integration allows easy access to travel and payment history, as well as notifications about fare caps and discounts.

Jonathan described it as ‘a new way to speak to users that were formerly anonymous’. He explained how putting real-time data in the hands of passengers builds their awareness of value and inspires confidence. Alerts, for instance, could inform them a fare cap that has been hit, and further travel will be free. 

“It’s about educating riders, and creating transparency and trust. As we build multimodal networks, and the complexity of systems increases, the more rider communication will be needed.”

Creating value from transit data

A panel discussion to round off the first day of Transit Ticketing Global asked for expert perspectives on how to make the best use of the data created by mobility usage.

Triumph Okojie, Digital Projects Lead (Bus Open Data Service) at the Department for Transport, said that we can create value by analysing data to improve the efficiency of mobility operations. Matt Smallwood, Connected Mobility and Strategy, Transport for the North, highlighted the potential of using data to learn about where people are isolated by inadequate transport provision, and working towards eliminating this inequality of access.

Eric Reese, Managing Director (Americas) at Vix Technology, added, “Ultimately, we want to afford the user the best experience. To this end, we need to empower customers with better information. We must do more as an industry to generate, share and link data – including predictive data – that is more valuable and more actionable.”

How can we support data-led mobility?

Here at Kuba, we are advocates of data-rich mobility systems. Our Account-Based Ticketing platform offers layers of integration and a secure environment for payment and other mobility-related data to be collected and shared within mobility ecosystems. To find out more, get in touch.