#74 STIB & Trafi: Exploring Mobility as a Service in Brussels

Episode 80 May 01, 2024 00:56:37
#74 STIB & Trafi: Exploring Mobility as a Service in Brussels
Smart in the City – The BABLE Podcast
#74 STIB & Trafi: Exploring Mobility as a Service in Brussels

May 01 2024 | 00:56:37


Hosted By

Tamlyn Shimizu

Show Notes

In this episode, we dive into the world of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) with Thomas de Bassompierre, MaaS Project Manager at Floya for Brussels Intercommunal Transport Company (STIB), Belgium, and Damian Bown, CEO of Trafi.

With them, we explored how Brussels is integrating various transportation modes into a unified service platform, discussed the challenges faced in implementation, and looked at the future of urban mobility.


Overview of the episode:

[00:01:46] Teaser Question: Imagining the future of transportation in Brussels by 2050

[00:06:56] Guest Backgrounds

[00:11:06] Discussion on the functionality and impact of the MaaS app in Brussels

[00:20:53] Role of MaaS platforms in promoting sustainable urban transportation

[00:31:56] Addressing the accessibility challenges of MaaS for diverse populations


[00:41:09] Flip the Script: Our guests ask each other the questions!

[00:55:12] Ending Question: "To you, what is a Smart City?"


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Episode Transcript

[00:00:06] Tamlyn Shimizu: Welcome to Smart in the city, the BABLE podcast, where we bring together top actors in the smart city arena, sparking dialogues and interactions around the stakeholders and themes most prevalent for today's citizens and tomorrow's generations. I am your host, Tamlyn Shimizu and I hope you will enjoy this episode and gain knowledge and connections to accelerate the change for a better urban life. Smart in the city is brought to you by BABLE Smart cities. We enable processes from research and strategy development to co creation and implementation. To learn more about us, please visit the BABLE platform at BABLE Smartcities EU so I'm excited to jump back into mobility topics you all know, probably if you know, of the podcast that I love talking about, mobility, urban mobility, sustainable mobility, different technological solutions with mobility. And this time we're traveling to Belgium and digging into the all important and exciting topic of mobility as a service, otherwise known as MaaS. So with me today are two experts on the topic and two people working really directly on this topic. So they're going to share their personal experiences as well as this great use case from Brussels. So with me first off, I have Damian Bown. He's the CEO of Trafi. Welcome, Damian. [00:01:27] Damian Bown: Hello. [00:01:29] Tamlyn Shimizu: Lovely to have you on. So. And then next up I have Thomas de Bassompierre. He's the MaaS project manager for STIB at Floya, the MaaS app of Brussels. Welcome, Thomas. [00:01:43] Thomas de Bassompierre: Hello and thank you for having me. [00:01:46] Tamlyn Shimizu: Pleasure to have you. So, you guys are accustomed to working with each other, and so I'm really interested to hear both sides of your perspectives on this very interesting project in Brussels. But before we get started, I like to start off with a little teaser to get us warmed up and in the mood for some nice questions. So the teaser today I brought for you is imagine life in Brussels in 2050. What do you think will be the main mode of public transportation in Brussels? And feel free to let your imagination run wild. Maybe, Thomas, you want to start with this one? As you're the one based in Brussels. [00:02:28] Thomas de Bassompierre: There won't be any need for vehicles. Teletransportation will be the most effective way to move around. Now, more seriously, hopefully we will see the rise of drones, maybe to some extent, but for sure, autonomous vehicles will be deployed at a large scale, I believe. [00:02:49] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah. What do you think, Damian? [00:02:52] Damian Bown: Yeah, the sort of main mode of transport is always a tough one because of course people have different needs and what could be the main mode for one person might be sort of edge case for another. And so actually, I have a hope that our cities are complex and multimodal. And what we actually optimize for more is coverage that wherever you are in the city, there's a mode of transport that can get you efficiently using the constrained resource of the city streets to anywhere else in the city. And that probably will mean some kind of close to personal mobility at the edges, which could be scooters, bikes, pod, autonomous pods, bringing you into high speed, high capacity trunk networks to get people across the city. Geography doesn't really work of having every a to every b in personal pods, so I believe it probably needs a sort of connect, well connected network. So if so, state your question literally, and I'm an engineer by training, so forgive me for that. But if you were to sort of add up the number of journey kilometers by mode, by, you know, in a period, I expect you'd say the main mode will be the metro, carrying large numbers of people across the city. But if you were to measure instead by how many different modes an individual uses, it'll be much less clear which is the main or dominant mode. [00:04:34] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Does it, do you think that cars will still have a place? [00:04:44] Damian Bown: Private cars? [00:04:46] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yes. [00:04:46] Damian Bown: Or cars, as you know, is an autonomous pod owned by a third party a car or not? I think it comes into very interesting questions of what is public transport and what's private transport? Is uber public transport or not? And if it's not, then is that because of who owns the shares in it? Because if it's an, what about an uber pool? Is that public transport? What about a DRT minibus with only two people on it? Is that public transport? So this line is very blurred. That's getting a long way from your question about will cars have a space? I suspect that we will find they'll be priced out of our cities. It seems to me inevitable that when you have a society, a wealthy, successful society like Brussels is, then most people who would like a car could afford one, or their company helps them pay for one. Therefore, we need to find ways of helping them make better choices to not just use it because it's outside their house, because if everyone did that, our city grinds to a halt. And so we have to find methods to convince people to take alternative modes that have made better use of the network. And I suspect that means pricing private cars off the road for most journeys using some kind of per journey based on congestion. Road user pricing scheme. So not banned, if that feels like not our european way of saying lots of pedestrianized streets, I hope, because that makes a great living experience. But on other streets, making people think very seriously for this journey, a private car is exactly the right thing. I've got loads of bags I've got to pick up. Somebody who's, you know, has difficulty walking. I'm carrying on this journey beyond the city to someone else afterwards, but I hope in a much smaller percentage of journeys are carried out in privately owned cars than are today. [00:06:56] Tamlyn Shimizu: Okay, yeah, great. So before we dig more into this topic, I want to get more of your thoughts on all of this. But before that, I think it'd be really interesting for us to dive a bit into your backgrounds, let the listeners know about who you are. Where did you come from? How did you get here today? What is really your background? Maybe. Thomas, you want to start? [00:07:20] Thomas de Bassompierre: Sure, I have. So I'm not an engineer, as Damian just mentioned. I'm more into business. I have a master's degree in business administration, and I have 15 years of professional experience leading major digital transformation programs and IT tools, deployments and implementation in various sectors. So I worked in very large companies in the automotive sector. I did run a startup for a few years that was active in urban logistics, and I'm now part of a consulting firm leading the mobility practice. So I've always tried to stay close to mobility and urban challenges, and I've worked for the past two and a half years now for STIB, leading the Maas program and deploying the Floya app. As you know it just wanted to jump back to what Damian was saying. I think it's indeed very interesting. In private, car ownership is probably the element that we want to focus on. I think we will shift from ownership to probably usage depending on the destination and on the reason for the journey. And that's for persons, obviously. But then you also have the challenge around urban logistics and how you move around goods, which is something that is going to evolve a lot. But cars will probably not completely disappear, although technology will have them evolve in a different form as they are today, but probably that people will still use cars to go in between cities or to go to the suburbs. And so it will all depend on the reason for your journey, I believe. [00:09:13] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, absolutely. Before we jump more into these topics, Damian, I want to hear from you. What is your background? Where did you come from? Tell us more. [00:09:26] Damian Bown: Not from a transport background, actually, by accident I ended up in transport. I spent the first part of my career, I'm a mechanical engineer. I worked actually in the automotive industry, may surprise you to hear. And then by accident, I did an MBA myself as well and came out in about 2000 this will give you some view on how much to trust my predictions of the future. I looked at the world and where I was going to start a business and felt that all the fortunes that were going to be made on the Internet had been made already, and therefore I had to do something else. And just as the very first mobile Internet phones were coming out, there was a technology called WAP at the time. And I managed to get hold of one of these very early, pre release Nokia Wap phones and play around with it and think about what it might be good for and the technology. The bandwidth was very slow, the screens were tiny, very few pixels on each one, but came to the conclusion that one of the few things you could actually usefully do with it was to do a journey plan, something you needed to do on the move, where there was a simple text based question and a text based answer. So I built a rail journey planner for the UK on a Nokia WAp phone in 1999. And I believe so, though maybe one of your listeners will correct me that it was the world's first ever journey or on a phone. [00:10:55] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, thanks so much for that. Interesting background. So, Thomas, maybe you can tell us, what is Floya? What does it do? What does it look like? [00:11:06] Thomas de Bassompierre: Well, Floya is, as you said, a mobility as a service app. So it's a phone app available on both Android and iOS, basically centralizing all mobility services in one single app. So the idea is to ease the access to all the mobility services for the users. It's based on a journey planner, as Damian just mentioned. So the idea is to allow the user to make better choices to show him all the alternatives there are. So basically, he enters a destination and the app will tell him, okay, you have various options to go to that destination using different modes of transportation, being public transportation, MaaS transit, or private operators. So shared mobility, such as bikes, step scooters, mopeds, shared cars, taxi services. So the idea is really to have an all in Wap, all in one stop shopping if you want. App of mobility, it was very important for us to go, let's say, all the way. So we tried to have only deep integrations. So basically, the user can actually pay for his journey and for the vehicle that he will be using directly in the app, allowing for the user not to have to switch from one app to the other to actually purchase the trip that he's going to start. And it's. Well, the MaaS app has been. So it's a public initiative. It has been developed by STIB, but it was mandated by the regional authorities of Brussels, and it's part of a much larger initiative that is called good Move, which objective is to actually operate a modal shift from private car usage to alternative modes of transportation. And so that's one of the tools that has been deployed in Brussels to try and facilitate that shift. [00:13:30] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, absolutely. I just have a follow up question to that as well. So you've been implementing Floya. It's live out there. I anticipate that there were probably a lot of hurdles along the way. Can you speak maybe to some of those most significant hurdles you faced and how you overcame them? What were your lessons learned? [00:13:52] Thomas de Bassompierre: Well, it was a, how do you say, long haul journey. So basically it started in 2019. I wasn't even there yet. They started with deploying a pilot app with another technology in entropy, actually, that came out for about a year and a half, two years. Obviously, COVID didn't help because it was released in 2020, but it allowed stieb to collect a lot of insights and a lot of, let's say, experiences on what were the customer needs and what were the technical challenges that we were about to face. And then we started working with Trafi, early stages of 2022. Obviously, biggest challenge is the technical challenge behind deep integration. So you have to address to a number of private and public operators. We do have four different public transport operators in Brussels. So there's a train operator, the regional Brussels regional transport operator, which operates metros, trams and buses. But then you have two other regional bus operators who come into Brussels, and then all the private operators. So you have to discuss with them. You have to build the contractual collaboration and then the contractual. Yeah, how do you say, the contractual relationship, and then only can you start building the integration. Obviously, Trafi helped us a lot because they have extensive experience in building such integrations. Nevertheless, you have to convince these people that it's in their interest to be part of a MaaS. So all the operators are not always interested in being part of the adventure. So there's a lot of. [00:15:57] Tamlyn Shimizu: How do you convince them? Sorry to interrupt, but how do you. How do you convince them? Do you have any tips there? Because I see that being many cities are listening, or transport authorities, etcetera, and they're saying, okay, this. This bringing all the people together is probably the biggest challenge. What tips do either one of you have there? [00:16:19] Thomas de Bassompierre: I think there are two elements. There's one element, obviously, is putting in place legal constraints, obliging them to be part of a public MaaS, typically, and that is not yet the case in Brussels, but it may be in the future and it's certainly something that we try to push. So there's a lot of nudging as well. Public authorities are pushing them to collaborate as much as possible. And then you have the ones who understood that they're part of a mobility ecosystem in a city, that they're not the only ones operating, and that it's in their interest to actually collaborate. They understand that they are potentially complementary to the public transport network to do the first and last mile of a journey. And in that sense, it's in their interest to be directly integrated in an app that will offer you the full end to end view of a journey, at least for the user. The other thing is, it's a very low cost for them. Basically, we've been financing a big chunk of the integration part, although they have to finance their end of the integration, nevertheless, we just show and make their services available to the users of the Floya app. We don't take any commission or we don't take any markup on their pricing. So it's different types of ways to, to convince them. I think another element that I've discussed recently, very recently with an operator, there's also a tendency to, you have the first runners and then you have the followers. And I think a very interesting thing we see on the market now is that now that we've launched the app, that we have several operators on board, all the others are asking to be on board as well and want to be in as quickly as possible. If you go even further, we're discussing with various ride hailing companies and basically they're saying, we want to be the first ones in, not our competitor. And that's a very, very interesting element to observe, because a year and a half ago we tried to discuss with them and they were saying, no way, we will not integrate. So it's a very quick change in behavior. Basically. [00:19:13] Damian Bown: I think Thomas's comments there match our experience. Both obviously observations in Brussels, but also elsewhere, is that there has been a shift. Your question about how do you convince them to participate and cooperate was a very frequent and relevant question a few years ago, because you're absolutely right. There was a sort of pushback from the MSP's about who owns the user. These kind of discussions, why should I cooperate? These were all companies funded by zero interest VC investments, where it was all about growing the size of your user base. I think now there is a much more mature, cooperative relationship being built between the cities who after all provide the infrastructure in streets and pavements and power supplies and everything else that these vehicles run on and the operators themselves. And I sense that this, as Thomas was saying over the last couple of years, has moved on a long way. And I still hear concern from cities. The same question you asked, how do we get them to cooperate? And my suggestion now is just getting touch. I think you'll be surprised. I think you'll find most of them are very ready to have that conversation now. And exactly on that point, more put up a sense of shortage of actually there's only space for three who's going to be the launch MSP's and you might find you get a queue of them all wanting to be in that launch group. [00:20:53] Tamlyn Shimizu: It's a funny phenomenon that we have in many things in our system, in our life. Yeah, exactly. Damian, I want to ask you also, you mentioned this, I think you mentioned before this kind of sustainability aspect, and I'm wondering what you view as the role of MaaS platforms like Floya in sustainable urban transportation and how are these kind of ideas implemented in practice? [00:21:21] Damian Bown: I think they are certainly an important part, but an app, and this is going to sound odd to you. As a company that markets itself as a supplier of MaaS systems, I see us as a supplier of excellent journey inflammation tools, helping people make better travel decisions. And having shared a bit of my background before Trafi, I see the current generation of journey planning, finding the fares, being able to book and ride as being a sort of natural evolution of that 20 year trajectory which started with just a journey planner that became a real time journey planner that became a real time journey planner with incidents. And then you added fairs, and then you added the ability to purchase, and then you added multimodal journeys. And the name MaaS has been attached to this sort of gradual evolution that's been going on over, well, 25 years now, 24 years, and we'll keep going. And the brand MaaS on it has been excellent in getting interest for the sector, but I think the sector has just been trucking on and evolving and improving and becoming more comprehensive and better at doing this modal shift piece we're talking about every year it's got better. The bar has risen, driven by people like Google Maps and these kind of companies who do an excellent product for free. And something that we talk a lot about with STIB is that if you're not targeting your product to be at least as good as those free to use products and the likes of Google, then why is anyone going to choose to use your product instead? It's a very high bar. But you have to keep chasing. So, on the question of sustainability, I don't see that a MaaS app or a journey planning app alone can do it. A city with one bus route doesn't need a complicated tool to help people choose which journey to take. As cities become more complex and more multimodal, I refer you back to my vision of what the 2050 city looks like. Complex multimodals, far too complex for the average human brain to be able compute the best route through it. The more you need tools to assist. But the tools themselves are useless without the comprehensive network of excellent, reliable, clean, well priced public transport backbone, with all the complementary feeder services feeding into it, whether they be taxis, scooters, bikes, car clubs. So I see its role as being. I sometimes think of it a bit like, you know, you can't imagine a cinema chain showing different cinema, seeing different movies every night at different times where you have to book a seat. You can't imagine them questioning why they need a website to tell people when the film is. You know, if you don't tell people when the film is and what time it starts and ends and let them book a seat on it, then you're going to have empty seats in your cinema. You wouldn't stop and question why you need some kind of marketing tool. And yet for some reason, we question whether cities need a MaaS app and how it should pay for itself, etcetera. Does anyone in a cinema chain ever look at their website and say, do you know what? We should probably get rid of that, because it's costing us to run a website. It's like, if you want a product which is complex to use, and there's what you call a wasting asset, use an economics term. Once that seat on a bus gets to the end of the bus and route and turns around and no one's in it, you can't sell it again. You've lost that revenue opportunity in the journey, and you need to fill it at the time it's available. And to do that, you need excellent decision making tools. And that's, I think, the role of our product and the role of Thomas's team and project at the company is to help people make better journey decisions using the assets available. I can see Thomas wants to. [00:25:30] Thomas de Bassompierre: Yeah, I just want to jump on what you just said about tools, widespread tools like Google Maps. Obviously, people are used to using such tools. They're actually not completely free because they come with a price. I mean, people are ready to pay that price, but basically Google uses the data that are generated by the usage of Google Maps, and everyone is aware of that and there's a lot of applications behind. This is obviously a huge challenge for us. It's to convince users that we actually do have a USP compared to Google Maps. We actually go beyond, we do offer the possibility to pay in app and to have a local view. Also, we position ourselves as a public product as best in class in terms of GDPR regulation, in terms of consent management, in terms of accessibility, which is obviously, obviously a very important topic. And all these elements put one behind the other shows that there is probably some space for tools like ours. But I agree with Damian, it's quite a big of a challenge to make sure that you do have an added value compared to what people are used to using every day and have been used to using for the past 15 years now. [00:27:01] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, thanks for addressing that. That was actually going to be my devil's advocate question on why not just use Google right to follow up. So I think you already answered that perfectly, though, on the added benefit you touched before on this kind of investment and the business model behind it. And I think that's really interesting to talk about in this context as well. So MaaS platforms require this significant investment, I think, in time, right, to be sustainable and to work well. So how does stip envision this financial model or what is already working for you? Can you tell me more about that? [00:27:46] Thomas de Bassompierre: First of all, I think we need to put it in the right context. STIB is a public company offering a public service, and the first goal of this whole project is not to have financial revenue out of it. It's first and foremost to offer a public service and to make access to various modes of mobility much easier. As Damian mentioned, mobility is becoming increasingly complex in our cities, and offering a public service to actually bring that variety of mobility to the user is very important. It's actually something we've been working on in parallel as well, is to have the legal framework behind evolve. So this whole MaaS is now recognized as part of the public service contract STIB has. So it is an obligation now for STIB to offer a MaaS service in Brussels. So that's one part of the answer. Now, obviously, if you can generate some revenue and have a business case, it's obviously even more interesting. But what we've seen in the past 510 years is that all the companies who have tried to offer Google Maps like type of applications moved from a b two c to a b two b model because there is as such no real business model. The travelers are not ready to pay a markup, to use a MaaS application. So basically you will never be able to have a real business model on what you're selling. So that's the first element. Obviously, if you can manage with your MaaS app to drive more people to use your public transport, then that's one way of seeing a business model. You generate more revenue, you generate more people who actually purchase your tickets, so you generate more Trafi to your network. And that's something that is very interesting for us. And we are looking into other possibilities to develop business cases or business models in the future, being, for example, offering b two b functionalities and so on, to try and convince companies to push their employees to shift from the car to using other types of transport. But it's not a real direct business model which will generate revenue. I don't know if that answers the question. [00:30:49] Tamlyn Shimizu: No, absolutely. I think that you serve a good point that public companies are not there to make money, they're there to serve the public. I think more and more we're looking at business models of also cities in our work that we're doing as BABLE as well. So that's why it's just an interesting question to see how different cities are addressing this and seeing if there are business models behind some of these applications. Maybe also another question to both of you, and I want to ask about accessibility, because I think we always have to keep that in mind in anything that we do in general in the public space, but especially with mobility, I think as well, there's a risk, of course, is the MASA application serving low income and disabled passengers? Maybe one of you or both of you can address this on how you're seeing this play out with the MAs applications. [00:31:56] Damian Bown: Yeah, I see it as a real challenge, and it's a fascinating question because it brings with it the conflict between what the public sector has to do in its obligation to serve all its citizens. It can't just cherry pick the easy citizens to work with in the way that a private business could do, aiming at one particular social group. On the other hand, innovation, in my view, happens best where you start with, I think Thomas used the word earlier about early adopters, where you start with a not fully mature or excellent product, but you serve a small group of community of people who are the most forgiving of your product quality, but most interested in trying out new things. And they give you feedback and you learn from the way they're using the product and you make it better. And with time, you then start to serve a larger and larger audience or you might, for example, say, we're going to. The objective of this app is that we're going to, we're going to get people to shift to do what I did to get rid of their private car and to start using shared mobility instead. And if you're trying to do that, the best way to do it, I would suggest, is that you take, you know, a 500 meters by 500 meters block in a city, and you say, we're going to make sure that people who live inside this block have excellent access to buses, bikes, scooters, car clubs will be on every street. We're going to make sure they're a parking bays for them. We're going to help these people become early adopters of it. And then when they start to adopt this product and tell their neighbors that this is a great way to live, you don't need a car anymore. You will then start to be able to push the boundaries out of that region. So you make something excellent, excellently well suited by the modes of transport or the app to one geographical region or to one demographic group, and then you broaden it. So excellent and broaden. Excellent and broaden with two different groups there, one geographic, one demographic. The public sector has a real struggle with that because even though that might be the best way to innovate new ventures and products and ideas, it's almost impossible for a government funded project to drop in and say, we're just serving the technically enabled 30 year olds with their top end smartphones who live in this area, if everyone would, quite rightly, I'm taxpayer to be up in arms. So juggling, that is a very difficult, sensitive topic. And I think we need to be doing our best to make sure that our apps are compliant with all the very stringent regulations in Europe these days for readability of apps, for legibility, for use for all sorts of social groups. But I think you have to recognize that a lot of what we're talking about on this call, a lot of what is MaaS has been enabled by new technology. So to sort of hold the industry accountable, to say, you also have to be able to offer all those same benefits to people who decided they, or for whatever reason they can't afford, they are not physically able to, to use the new technology is sort of an unachievable aim when these things only work because of the technology. Let's look at something like an Uber app. The fact that the app sort of knows where you are and is tracking you and are you where you're supposed to be? Maybe you know it was a bad example. But some of the things that are possible with new technologies in mobility are only possible because the user is being tracked in real time. The driver of the vehicle or the system can speak to that user in real time, can send some kind of notification to say, I'm late or I'm early, to identify who you are sending a code, giving a tip. All of these things which are deeply embedded in these new mobility solutions are almost impossible to do with a sort of call center. And that creates a real challenge of do you want to slow down, are you able to slow down the technological rocket ship at the front from trying new things out in a sort of pilot project way in order to serve everybody? And will that actually overall be worse for everybody in the long run because you don't evolve the great products? I don't know, Thomas, it's a bit of a hobby horse, but it's wheels are spinning. [00:36:42] Tamlyn Shimizu: I saw them spinning. [00:36:43] Thomas de Bassompierre: So, no, I think it's a bit. I tend to. I understand Damian's position. I think it's about finding the right balance between complying with all this regulation and the fact of being, or offering a public product that needs to be accessible to everyone and actually trying to move as quickly as possible and embrace technology. And if we look at it, we decided to go live with what we called an MVP. So a minimum viable product. We knew that there were weaknesses on the product, we knew that we were addressing only part of the population. We have received a lot of criticism because of that, and now we're working hard to actually have our product evolve and answer to all the needs of different kinds of users. But we did take the strategic decision to move forward and not wait for our product to be fully compliant. Now, having said that, we do invest a lot in having the product being WCAG compliant. So the web content accessibility guidelines, which is actually a european obligation for public companies, we are, thanks to public pressures, investing a lot in enriching the app with data. So is a metro station accessible to wheelchairs or to people with reduced mobility issues? Is a vehicle accessible? Is a tram or a bus stop accessible? All these data need to be structured and made accessible through the app. It's not an easy challenge, honestly. Just having the data structured in a way that it is exploitable by an external app is a huge challenge. And we should not forget that very often technology is limited by the data it has access to. And so that's certainly one of the biggest challenge that we are facing today. But we're investing MaaSively in having this data on board. Now, interesting thing to add is that Trafi offers a white label product. So we are using basically the same technology as in other cities, in Berlin and Southampton. And we do. I mean, Trafi has deployed functionalities that we are not using yet. Typically you're able to ask for a step free ride. So people with disabilities could say, I want to go from a to b, but you have to take into account that I cannot use steps or I need to go through certain types of transport. So basically the functionality exists, we could use it, but we don't have the data today. So it's always trying to find this balance on, okay, we are deploying the product, we are advancing. We know that there are weaknesses and we will enrich it along the way. [00:40:11] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, really, really good words there on finding this balance. I would love to talk more about this topic with you, but unfortunately we do have to move on. We're almost out of time. So for that, I'm moving on to one of our fun segments. And the segment that I've chosen for you today is called flip the script. Flip the script. You are the one asking the questions and I'll be the one answering them. And when I have a single guest, it means that they get to ask me questions. But the good thing about this segment, when I have two guests, it means that you get to ask each other a question. So you get to think about a question that you think that the other person would be. You really want them to answer. You really want to have them give this perspective, or it should be a question that you really want to know of them. Do you have a question for each other? Whoever wants to fun for you? [00:41:09] Damian Bown: Maybe. I'm not sure it's fun for us. You're asking me to put my precious client on the spot here, Tamlin. [00:41:19] Tamlyn Shimizu: It doesn't have to be a critical question. It can also be a fun question. You can ask him, where are you going on holidays? It can be any question. [00:41:32] Thomas de Bassompierre: Go ahead, Damian. Shoot. [00:41:34] Damian Bown: Yeah. Yes. I don't do the fun question. Sorry, apologies for that. It's going to be one in the domain. I think one of the challenges that face our sector and we often get asked about is this question about roaming and is the future of. Is the future of MaaS people having sort of different apps for different cities or different apps for their own city and then a general app for everywhere else. So maybe that's the role of the Google to this world is that when you're going to another city, you use Google, but when you're in your own city, you're like a sort of, you know, a prosumer or, you know, a keen photographer who might have a different app on their phone for taking photographs than even though there is an Apple camera app. Maybe you want to use a better one that gives you more controls. And I think of perhaps users in their own city as being like sort of professional users of apps where they want access. They want a whole level of. They don't want to just know, can I get from a to b? They want to know? Absolutely. What's the best way, bearing in mind the disruption and that roadworks there today. So the question is how, Thomas, how STIB sees the future evolving of an app like Floya either expanding across greater regions, or sharing infrastructure or data with neighboring cities and regions so that users could didn't have to re register every time they download another one or not. [00:43:18] Thomas de Bassompierre: It's a very, very interesting question. Obviously, everyone has probably this question in mind. We are discussing and exchanging experiences with various cities. I've been talking to probably tens of cities around Europe in the past few months. But I think the biggest challenge is more on the short and midterm. How do we make sure our product is a success if you look in the longer term? We already have a challenge in Belgium. To face is to say, okay, you may or may not know that Belgium is a bit politically constructed in a politically complicated way. We have regions that are completely autonomous, that have their own transport network and their transport system. We've been deploying Floya in the Brussels region. We're not technically allowed to go into and to expand into Flanders and Bologna. So it's. But we are speaking to Delane and Tech, who are the two other operators. We are speaking to SNCB and MBS, who is the train operator. And we all really believe that it would be in the interest of the user to have one single app covering Belgium. That's the first step. And then you will probably want to have one single app covering a wider geographical area. But as Damian said, that would probably be Google Maps. I don't have the answer to that question, but it is a topic that everyone is looking into. You could think of roaming, as you said, you could think of sharing data. You could think of. I mean, who would have thought in the early two thousands that you would be able to use your phone and use data everywhere around Europe at the same price as in your own country? It was unthinkable back then, yet reality shows today that roaming is a reality. So I think the biggest challenge is standard standardization of data and political will. I think collaboration between cities will come with regulation and with a real political will to actually harmonize the way we approach all this sector. [00:45:49] Tamlyn Shimizu: Complicated, but good question. Yeah, very good. Now, do you have a question for Damian? [00:45:58] Thomas de Bassompierre: I do have a question for Damian, and it's actually an interested question. If we use, as I said, white label product, obviously the more customers Trophi has, the biggest, the chance we have that others will invest in functionalities that we will be able to benefit from and lower our development costs. Or at least that's the, the way Damian has sold it to us. But I strongly believe it is the case. So we are obviously pushing for other cities to embrace this product, and we do believe that it's a very good product, by the way. But my question would be, if you had infinite funding and development capacity, what would the ideal MaaS product be for you? If you were the Google of tomorrow, what, how would your MaaS product look like? [00:47:05] Tamlyn Shimizu: Also a very good question. [00:47:07] Damian Bown: Yeah, thank you. I love the idea of infinite resources. That's not offer I get every day. And thanks for the kind words about the Trafi platform. It's sort of. I sometimes feel like this is sort of almost lapse of the board. The first one is sort of, can you make a journey planner work? Can you make a multimodal journey planner work? And you get around, there's a sort of yes. And then there's another problem presented. And it feels like with Floya, we've sort of demonstrated to the world, or anyone who's interested, that you can build an app that gives you multimodal journey results and allows you to book and ride multiple services all through that single account. We've sort of. That was something that, rather like your question you asked about, would MSP's cooperate? The next one was, even if they do, can you make a user experience that makes it seamless to go into an app and you walk up to a scooter, a bike, go on the metro, any of these modes, and you can use this one app to do it. And I think you can sort of tick the box there. So I see the next big challenge, the next thing that needs to be worked on is, and this is what would take the infinite resources, much more development of the, of the sort of pricing model on the top, how a city can use this tool to help encourage people to make better decisions by bundling modes together, by recognizing that, you know, you have a coming up with. Some would call it gamification but coming up with models for how you price it, which are more effective than the simple we charge you a fixed price for a journey. How can you use a tool like this to encourage, make, make for a school child taking a bus to school, at school travel times cheaper than at other times of day to use these tools so that for people who are looking for a job and are on benefits to say, I want to go and do job interview. And this tool can be a tool that you use to let that travel be free at a certain time of day to go on that particular trip so much more fine grained incentives, rewards for people based on the carbon emissions that they generate. So you give everybody so many kilograms of free travel in the city every year, or a subscription to this many kilograms, which means if you use it all up in a expensive taxi ride, in a, you know, in a. In a gas guzzling taxi, you don't get very much for it. But if you use it on rental bikes, you could get an awful lot of travel from it. So trying to use the fact that we've got a platform that's connected to payment and connect and it's understanding your individual journeys and can release access to a mode because that's what a ticket is these days. A ticket is no longer sort of piece of paper. It's a bit like a sort of think of it a bit like an office access entry key card. You tap it on something, can I go in or not? And people in different authorities in the company can get into different rooms. Modern ticketing system is a bit like that. It's basically you're saying, I'm this individual, do I have the rights to get onto this mode now or not? And I think that's where I would see this product going, is allowing cities to have that much more fine grained personalized tools to give people incentives, nudges in terms of cost or free benefits to make better travel choices. So there's the sort of stick of congestion charging I see is very likely. I talked about that at the very start of people having charged for making use of scarce resource. So that's the stick. And on the other side you have the carrot, which is these incentives to make better choices. And that's where I think these tools should develop. And that's what's so different. That's why when you are, if anyone wants to ask a question, why not just let people use Google Maps? Is that once you do that, you remove all the opportunity for the city to have the ability to introduce those kind of carrots I was just describing. [00:51:53] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, very interesting. And I think next time I'll just stay out of the conversation and you guys can just ask each other questions, because you did a wonderful job with that. No, but I have one more question for you, and it's the question I ask every single guest. And I would advise to be concise with your answer, because I think this definition is hard. So the question is to you, what is a smart city? Who would like to start? [00:52:23] Thomas de Bassompierre: Thomas, you're pointing at me for me. What is a smart city? It is a city that tends to try and improve quality of life within the city by offering, I don't know, more agile, efficient, cost effective services through technology. And that can be in various domains. The idea is to make the city more livable, greener in terms of energy consumption, in terms of mobility, in terms of waste management, in terms of infrastructure, public space usage, in terms of, I don't know, public services, access to public services, et cetera, et cetera. That's how I see a smart city. [00:53:17] Tamlyn Shimizu: Good. Yeah, perfect. Now maybe Damian, you have something to elaborate on, on his definition. [00:53:27] Damian Bown: I think Thomas is talking about a smart city as a property of the city, about its geography or its assets and its infrastructure. And I'd like to have a go at defining a smart city as a behavior rather than a geography. And the behavior is that it's a city that has defined clear objectives about what it would like. Those objectives might be around congestion, it might be around emissions, it might be around average, how long it takes people, or what's the average speed of traversing the city. There could be all sorts of objectives they set, and then that same city has to monitor technology very closely, filter out, so that technologies that offer the potential to help deliver against that objective get trialed, get tested, small pilots to see whether they live up to that promise, quickly killed if they don't, but continually. Someone who's got their eyes open, who understands what the objectives are for the city that the mayor has set, that the taxpayer, the voter has set, and then is monitoring technologies and not making huge bets on any one or another, but small bets to test things out, and the ones that appear to show promise or work, expanding those pilots, growing them, building them, developing them, and iterating. So the smart city is a behavior of knowing what your objectives are, monitoring technology and seeing what works for you and what doesn't, and continually evolving. And because what is smart in one city, it may not be smart for another because of all sorts of whatever your objectives are. So it's a behavior rather than a geography. [00:55:12] Tamlyn Shimizu: Very interesting perspective. I like it. It's always a great question to see the way that people are thinking about these types of complex topics and complex descriptions of what we're doing here in Citi. So thank you both so much. That's all I have for you today. I really appreciate both of your times. I think it was a really lively conversation, and I really enjoyed learning from both of you. So thank you so much for coming on. [00:55:43] Damian Bown: That was great fun. Thank you for, thank you for having me. [00:55:46] Thomas de Bassompierre: And thank you, Tamlin and Damian. It was an interesting conversation. Thank you very much. [00:55:51] Damian Bown: Wasn't it, Thomas? We'll continue it over a beer later. [00:55:55] Tamlyn Shimizu: There you go. Am I invited? [00:55:57] Damian Bown: Please. [00:55:58] Tamlyn Shimizu: Okay, perfect. And also, thank you to all of our listeners. Don't forget you guys. You can always create a free account on BABLE smartcities EU. You can find out more about smart city projects, solutions and implementations. Thank you very much. Thank you all for listening. I'll see you at the next stop on the journey to a better urban life.

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