MOBILITY AS A BUSINESS
MOBiNET’s technical platform, holistic approach and innovation will drive business models for mobility services in Europe, say Maria De Rycke and Orjan Tveit
With the explosion of both online mobility services and sources of open transport data, there is a growing need for marketplaces where users can find apps and services, and where service providers and operators can publish data and services.
Mobility operators or transport providers negotiate contracts on a one-to-one basis, with no common set of rules on how to engage with other mobility operators on a pan-European level. MOBiNET delivers a set of technical components and the organisational structure for a mobility e-marketplace that enables and supports multiple business models.
Currently the deployment and delivery of services for ITS requires one-to-one negotiations between business parties. Multi-party negotiations take a considerable amount of time and incompatible systems create barriers for providing services on a Europe-wide scale. These constraints on wider development and deployment also apply to obtaining data available from different public and private sources. The processes are inefficient, implementing services in new regions or for new customers may require expensive equipment or infrastructure, and business-consumer relationships may be limited to a specific set of services by specific providers due to technology.
MOBiNET is a European research and development project that solves these constraints.
A HOLISTIC TECHNICAL PLATFORM TO SUPPORT THE E-MARKETPLACE
MOBiNET is a technical platform and EU-wide e-marketplace that enables the interactions between suppliers, developers and users of mobility-related content and services. It offers a directory for publishing and editing business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) services as well as functionality enabling and supporting interoperability between data sources. The services will be offered across Europe without the need for standardised hardware.
The MOBiNET platform architecture provides the required infrastructure functionality to let service providers easily compose their services based on available data or other B2B services and to deliver their services to end users. This is provided by core components such as service management, identity management, billing and clearing support, communication support, privacy and security, data quality assessment and the TSP Manager.
The technical platform is built on a holistic architecture with a standardised interface and development environment and open APIs for service specification and realisation. The guiding principle of for the MOBiNET platform has been to ensure that services and content offered via the platform will be compatible and interoperable with each other.
In parallel with the MOBiNET platform, MOBiNET designed and developed a number of reference transport and mobility services with Europe-wide interoperability potential. These services show substantial gains thanks to MOBiNET. The development and operation of these services are enabled and facilitated by the availability of the core components services. These representative use cases have been demonstrated and tested in the eight pilot sites in nine countries in the project in order to evaluate the overall credibility of the concept both from the technical and business standpoint.
MOBiNET Non-Stop Truck (NST) service is one of the use cases trialled to demonstrate MOBiNET. The NST service transfers the weight information from a truck directly to the road administrator while the truck is driving. When the vehicle passes a roadside ITS-station, the in-vehicle ITS station broadcasts the weight of the vehicle together with the identity to the roadside ITS station. The benefits would accrue to both the truck operator (that could avoid stopping at a weighbridge) and to the road authority (that could avoid focusing on law-abiding trucks and thereby run more efficient controls).
MOBiNET extends these advantages to trucks that cross national borders and allow a fully pan-European WiM service. The NST application proves the integration of the national enforcement authorities with the vehicles via the MOBiNET platform. This means that the authorities in each country would have only one interface to all vehicles entering the country, via MOBiNET. Current implementations allow a truck to travel from Gothenburg to Trondheim while the public authorities can check weight (and other issues like insurance or possible pending fees) without stopping the truck. Fully implemented this service could simplify the operation for truck owners as well as for public authority. Fleet operators, from the largest to the smallest, would as a result have a major incentive to install the necessary technology to use the WiM service.
10/10 FOR AGILITY
In the meantime, the MOBiNET platform has reached a good level of robustness. It has been developed according to the AGILE methodology and has been improved and upgraded through a successive series of platform releases. Each platform release has been thoroughly verified and validated through the use of the MOBiNET services in the eight MOBiNET pilot sites. The third platform release was introduced to developers and start-ups in the context of an ITS Hackathon organised at the 2015 ITS World Congress in Bordeaux. The ITS Hackathon stimulating the creation of new MOBiNET service ideas, provided a quality check of the MOBiNET platform. The newest release of the platform (3.1) will be available for testing by external users at the end of November 2016.
MOBiNET’S BUSINESS POTENTIAL SUPPORTED BY FIVE KEY AREAS OF INNOVATION
MOBiNET envisages a global multi-vendor business-to-business marketplace where service providers can publish and exchange their products and services and thereby enhance their offering and customer base. Public and private providers can publish services and data in the MOBiNET Service Directory to a wide and broad community, facilitating the creating of innovation solutions or enhancing existing service. Moreover, MOBiNET provides a toolkit including core components that can be utilised by developers to develop or further enhance their services.
MOBiNET’s five key innovations include not only a directory for any transport and mobility service in Europe and beyond but also an authentication and identity management scheme for single sign-on by any user for multiple services, a unified accounting and billing framework to support roaming by users and payment clearing between providers. A secure operating environment for both in-vehicle and portable end-user devices provides service consumers with a view of available mobility services while offering service providers a view of all connected users. In addition, MOBiNET delivers tools for the B2B community for automatic negotiation of service agreements when adding extra service components and data sources to existing service offerings.
MOBiNET lowers the barrier of entry for SMEs and start-ups. The low organisational and technical barriers imply that it will be easier to deploy new or improved services. MOBiNET will allow for an increase in the number of services available for travellers, and it will be much easier to implement Europe-wide services. Having all the services and data referenced in the same Service Directory will optimise their use and permit project partners to propose them to other cities and regions in European countries. There are no services offered by MOBiNET, nor datasets stored on the MOBiNET platform. Services and data are offered by service providers and data providers who register with MOBiNET and advertise their wares on the Service Directory.
MOBiNET enables interoperability among EU mobility services in terms of payment, billing and clearing through a dedicated component capable of managing financial transactions for membership and business fees. The MOBiNET platform gives each user a single identity. The MOBiNET Identity Manager authenticates the user who can connect from whichever provider’s login page and device using the user profile created with their own provider. With the help and support of the MOBiNET privacy framework, programmers can develop creative applications based on MOBiNET services without having to add the complexity of implementation privacy oriented requirements. A certification framework for MOBiNET services, applications and data is under way and will incorporate choices regarding the future development of MOBiNET, the rights and obligations of individual stakeholders and their business opportunities. The MOBiNET platform and its components were designed and implemented as much as possible on industry standards.
MOBiNET E-MARKETPLACE REINFORCES CURRENT BUSINESS MODELS
As a research project with specific business interest, MOBiNET examines not only the technical but also the commercial viability of a future commercial mobility platform. The development of the technical platform is therefore supported by a dedicated business analysis aimed at identifying the organizational options for MOBiNET’s operation.
Physical and virtual marketplaces have a well-defined business model as two-sided networks. A platform provides the opportunity for buyers and sellers to meet, and the platform operator could take a fee for enabling the transaction between both buyers and sellers. The MOBiNET Legal Identity (or MLE) is the project working term used for the organisation that will be responsible for the overall operation of a multi-vendor, multi-user platform for Europe-wide mobility services. To be sustainable, a marketplace must generate individual benefits to all stakeholders involved, including the owners and operators of the marketplace platform. The MOBiNET project analysed three legal entity options, one for-profit and two not-for-profit. Based on these options, three business models were developed to show the additional value of MOBiNET for the public and private stakeholders. Each of the business models have budget implications for the initial building of the platform based on the assumptions of the type of organisation that would be established for governing the operations and the types of levels of service that the platform would offer.
DELIVERING THE MAAS PROOF OF CONCEPT USE CASE
MOBiNET plays a key role within the evolution to the Mobility as a Service or MaaS concept. This evolution requires a Europe-wide e-marketplace of mobility services for businesses (service and content providers), public authorities and end users. The MaaS Alliance (http://maas-alliance.eu) currently creates the foundations for a single, open market and full deployment of MaaS services in Europe and beyond. MaaS can only be deployed widely in Europe if MaaS service providers can easily find and access many and various source of mobility, transport and traffic data in each new market location. The MOBINET Europe-wide mobility e-marketplace’s key features offer just such assistance.
MOBiNET, one of the founding partners of the MaaS Alliance, provides a beta version of the Europe-wide e-marketplace. The project, having investigated and demonstrated the appetite for such marketplace, could now be used by MaaS pilots and demonstration initiatives in preparation in some EU countries.
Maria De Rycke is Communications and Advocacy Manager at ERTICO – ITS Europe and Communications Manager for MOBiNET
Orjan Tveit is Chief Principal Engineer at the Norwegian Public Roads Administration