Some 25 years ago, TomTom launched its first satellite navigation system, a product which changed significantly following the integration of satnavs into passenger vehicles and the dawn of the smartphone. The Amsterdam-based multinational successfully shifted its focus towards traffic solutions and big data analysis of traffic flows and incidents. TomTom offers its customers a large portfolio of data sets related to traffic, such as parking data, weather information and fuel and electric vehicle charging stations. As a consortium partner of the MyCorridor project, research on “mobility as a service” (MaaS) is one important element TomTom has recently added to its business model.
We spoke with Pauline Baudens, Project Coordinator of the Research and Innovation Team at TomTom in Berlin. Pauline and other experts manage TomTom’s 14 EU-funded research projects related to traffic mapping, traffic management, navigation, autonomous driving and MaaS. Within the MyCorridor project, TomTom predominantly focuses on providing data for the MyCorridor pilots happening in various countries.
Every member of the MyCorridor project defines the MaaS concept in a different way. What words would you use to describe it?
There are various aspects to MaaS. Personally, I would define it as an application that groups different service providers together and facilitates travel planning for individual users who, using one single payment, can select various options according to their transport preferences. In the MyCorridor project, we follow this important rule of optimising user preference by making a large variety of travel solutions available at the touch of a button.
Why did TomTom join the MyCorridor project?
The goals of the MyCorridor project are very much in line with TomTom’s mission statement, focusing on the creation of a safe, connected, autonomous world, free of congestion and harmful emissions. The MaaS concept, and therefore the MyCorridor project, aims to find a viable alternative to private cars in order to meet that goal. The MyCorridor project enhances our understanding of the novel ways in which we can use the data we’ve gathered.
Furthermore, we are able to gain valuable insights by sharing best practices and establishing direct links with innovative consortium partners. The results of the pilots will help us to build business cases based on our involvement with public transport authorities in cities such as Salzburg, Amsterdam, and Rome among others.
The MyCorridor consortium is researching innovative traffic solutions. What innovations can the user expect to see in the near future?
Since I travel frequently, it would personally be an absolute dream to use just one mobility app on my smartphone and travel around Europe using one single payment. More realistically speaking, in the MyCorridor project we are aiming for the introduction of EU-wide standardised protocols.
I expect that the MyCorridor project will be the first stepping stone in a long process to unify and harmonise various forms of data throughout Europe, with the ultimate goal of developing a truly whole-of-Europe app.
Do you think it will be feasible to standardise these protocols in the near future or will it be a lengthy process owing to potentially long and complex legislative procedures?
For the moment, I assume it will remain a vision for the distant future. An important first step in that direction though involves the scaling up of the MaaS concept around Europe by integrating more service providers, including through the introduction of some cross-border initiatives that we are currently testing. Initial progress along that road has been made with the Whim initiative in Helsinki and the Moovel/Reachnow collaboration in several German cities, including Karlsruhe and Stuttgart.
What did you learn from the other partners’ approaches towards MaaS?
What I personally learned is that all participating countries – even major European cities – have their own particular approach towards the MaaS concept, simply because every city and region is unique. My own experience with the Tisséo service, a MaaS solution from my home town Toulouse in France that integrates services from various transport modes, cannot necessarily be replicated in other regions and cities.
Sharing these stories and results by establishing channels of communication through projects like MyCorridor is essential for TomTom to gain a broader overview of existing MaaS solutions and their possible scalability across the EU.
We are approaching the end of the project. Will TomTom be involved in other MaaS-related projects in 2020 and beyond?
We are currently working on some initiatives and are in the process of applying for several research projects related to MaaS. The most significant development for TomTom is the company’s recent cooperation with Moovit and Microsoft, which developed a mapping platform called Azure Maps. Thanks to that partnership, users of Microsoft’s Azure Maps will have the chance to experience easy multimodal traffic planning by accessing public transit data from Moovit combined with our real-time driving and parking data.
Where can interested readers find out more about TomTom and its projects?
Our social media profiles on Twitter and LinkedIn as well as our homepage are always great sources of the latest TomTom news and recent developments in the mobility sector. More details about the cooperation between Moovit, Microsoft and TomTom can be found in the following Microsoft press release.