HOW TO KEEP THE NETHERLANDS ACCESSIBLE

MOBILITY AS A SERVICE

How will we keep the Netherlands accessible for everyone in the decades to come? This is an issue that has raised concern among various parties. One thing's for sure: urbanised regions will become increasingly busier, while sparsely populated areas will face fewer public transport options.


Because road pricing schemes and other projects failed to get off the ground - or in the case of rush hour avoidance, did not produce the desired results - all eyes are now focused on innovative solutions. Solutions like a digital platform that offers and combines all forms of mobility. In other words: Mobility as a Service (MaaS).

ACCEPTING THE CHALLENGE

The big question is: who will get the ball rolling for this digital mobility platform? To put it another way: is MaaS really going to happen? One of the parties currently addressing this is ICT Group. The Water and Infra unit had previously focused on infrastructure issues and with the recent acquisition of InTraffic and NedMobiel, ICT Group believes it can jointly tackle the issue of mobility. Roel de Backer (ICT Group), Bert van Elburg (InTraffic) and Dirk Grevink (NedMobiel) are brainstorming about the challenges and opportunities of MaaS.

FROM POSSESSION TO USE

MaaS has been a market buzzword for a while. 'Now is the time for change,' says Bert van Elburg. 'The current generation is growing up with using things instead of owning it. Just look at the success of streaming services like Netflix and Spotify. And thanks to services like Uber, more and more people are being introduced to the convenience of digital platforms.' Dirk Grevink agrees. 'Mobility as a service that you can buy with your smartphone: that's the direction we're heading in.'

DELIBERATE ACQUISITION OF INTRAFFIC AND NEDMOBIEL

If there's one thing these gentlemen agree on, it's that the complex challenges surrounding MaaS can't be solved alone. 'There's a reason ICT Group has focused so strongly on acquisition in recent years,' says Roel de Backer. 'The acquisition of InTraffic and NedMobiel fits our strategy of extending our 'Smarter Cities' field to include smarter mobility. We now have the knowledge and skills we need to take the next step.'

THE WHOLE IS SMARTER THAN THE SUM OF ITS PARTS

Bert takes over, adding: 'The synergy advantages are staggering. The embedded knowledge within ICT Group can help with smart cars and smart traffic systems, and NedMobiel has excellent expertise in the field of smart mobility and payment models and experience with major government projects. When you add InTraffic's years of experience in the railway sector, the transition to a smart platform is definitely possible. But the market is still in its infancy. At this point, everyone's a pioneer.'


"The synergy advantages of combining knowledge

and expertise are staggering"

Bert van Elburg, Managing Director


I WANT A TOWBAR

Dirk sees the behavioural changes that are necessary for MaaS as one of the challenges. 'People are stuck in patterns. Instead of a lease budget, you could offer a mobility budget and a subscription for shared cars and public transport, but then you'd still get discussions about towbars and car seats in shared cars. That's not an argument employers are waiting to have. There are also issues with respect to taxes. If you take a smart approach to mobility, reduce CO2 emissions and save money, you'll have the tax authorities knocking on your door. That's the wrong incentive from the same government. To solve this, the government has to think more integrally and we'll have to start working with parties outside our organisation.'

THE BLOCKCHAIN SOLUTION

Another issue within MaaS is data exchange. 'All transport companies have data, but don't want to share it due to privacy concerns,' explains Bert. 'ICT Group found a solution to this using Blockchain technology. We developed our own proof of concept; a small-scale project in which different modality providers are connected. Personal data is divided across several computers, all of which form the collective conscience. In other words: thanks to the Blockchain, all data is available, but the parties don't need all of it.'



AN EXTRA HOUR A DAY

What do they think the future has in store? 'I'd like to see mobility being just as accessible as streaming services in a few years,' says Bert. 'I want to wake up to a hologram projected from my mobile phone that tells me how I'll travel that day,' says Dirk with a smile. Roel adds: 'I heard of this great idea in Helsinki, where they want everyone to have an extra hour at the end of the day. Now that's how to take the debate surrounding mobility and accessibility to the next level.'