2019 – a great year for the automotive and transport industries!

March 5, 2019

HighMobility price screenThe automotive and transportation industries are both significant contributors to our urban and planet challenges. I have been focusing on these two industries for some years since I believe both can change relatively quickly thus become major contributors to our ability to meet the sustainability goals and stop ruin our planet. And even better, they can drive rapid change themselves without being forced by legislators which opens a classic opportunity for innovative players to gain massive brand equity. And this time it’s for a good cause and not just by adding features, design and marketing dollars.

This is a technology opportunity that is fundamentally IoT and data driven. IoT is used to connect vehicles, their users and owners, infrastructure like road signs, roads and parking space to the internet. Relevant data are collected from these devices and combined with data from other sources like car registries, weather data and road data bases. The data are carefully and responsibly made available through different standardised APIs to ecosystems with service providers like insurance, car pools, public transportation, parking, scooter services and taxi. And different initiatives, typically a city or an enterprise, chose an ecosystem for their efforts driving the shift from very inefficient use of personal vehicles to shared services with many times better utilisation of the resources. This is true both for transportation of people and goods.

The often used term for the ultimate solution is Mobility-as-a-Service or MaaS, which have been talked about for many years. But up until now we have rather seen more vehicles on the streets and roads than better utilisation of the ones we already have. Car sharing services have been rolled out fighting for the same few parking lots and adding up to the jam already in place. And in many cases they already have been shut down like Autolib in Paris and in Stockholm car2go and DriveNow. Connected bicycles and scooters have been added and in some cases also already been shut down or stopped by city authorities. An average car in a city around the world is used around 3-4% of the time which obviously is massive waste of space, money and the planet.

I believe 2019 will be a great year for the transportation and automotive industries! This will be the year when the car makers start share the real-life car data they collect with third-party developers in real-time. There are probably many reasons for why this happen now but I chose to be believe it is because they have concluded that is a great way to drive change in their industry and that innovative car makers following this trend will gain a lot of Brand Equity and commercial success. In order to develop services across brands and models a “neutral server” is needed to add a standardised layer on top of the proprietary car data. Some companies have come quite far with that already and my personal favourite is High Mobility who work closely with some of the German car makers. They already have som data from Daimler, BMW and Mini available and I believe these first movers will make the other follow quickly and due to the transparency which data is made available and pricing, will become harmonised rapidly. At Tantalum (acquired Springworks recently) where I work, we have been waiting for this to happen and are already working on how to turn the data released into true value for service providers and cities as well as the users and owners of the vehicles.

The second major thing that will happen in the mobility market 2019 is that we finally will see the first mobility ecosystems being launched. This will lead to more data-driven innovation in the mobility market but more importantly the first limited Mobility-as-a-Service offerings being launched. I am involved in discussions with cities who are eager to see MaaS services in their cities as well as enterprises who want to offer their employees MaaS services instead of combinations of company cars, rental cars, public transportation and taxi. In both cases they are going after commercial benefits and to position themselves as doers when it comes to the sustainability challenges and corporate responsibility. The first ones will typically solve the easier parts of a MaaS service like integration of public transportation and parking services but the real challenges are to integrate cars, busses and trucks in the services which is why we at Tantalum started there. An event to recognise is the recent joint Daimler and BMW announcement about combining several vehicle related services including myTaxi, car2go and DriveNow under one umbrella. But there are many other activities in this field and I hope all cities in the world start working seriously on this now. Every single success here will make us all winners!

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For Mobility-as-a-Service to save the planet we need to focus on people and infrastructure not technology and gadgets

November 29, 2018

181129 Le Point articleUrbanisation continuously increases the challenge for cities to be good places to visit, live and work in. Cities today are more or less always designed around cars and today it is impossible to add roads and parking to meet the ever-growing demand. Investments in public transportation, bicycle lanes and streets for walking to reduce the number of cars in the cities are expensive but even worse, takes long to implement. Since each city has its own unique situation the responsibility to deal with the issue has fallen in the knees of city administrations rather than nations. But at the same time traffic infarct in cities has severe sustainability impact to the country and the planet.

It is clear why Urban Mobility is on the agenda today. According to EU over 60% of European citizens are living in urban areas of over 10 000 inhabitants. Urban mobility accounts for 40% of all CO2 emissions of road transport and up to 70% of other pollutants from transport. Congestion in the EU is often located in and around urban areas and costs nearly EUR 100 billion, or 1% of the EU’s GDP, annually. There we go: global warming, pollution, frustration, waste of time and waste of money are just some of the problems caused. At the same time I’ve learnt from my years with Springworks that average trips with cars are 3-4 km and takes 9-10 minutes, and cars are typically used less than 4% of the time. In essence we ruin the planet when we make cars, use cars and trash cars. In between they are standing in the way and cost a lot of money.

A couple of years ago the concept of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) was invented as the remedy to all these issues. Ever since cities have been flooded with new fleets including bicycles, scooters, cars and everything in between, and they come in different versions including roaming, stationary, electrical and combustion. This has definitely not improved the situation, rather the opposite since we continue to add vehicles instead of improve the utilisation of the ones we have and start remove vehicles. In Stockholm where I live we have colourful roaming bicycles and electrified scooters all over the place. Operators of fleets come and go and some even leave some “vehicles” behind when leaving. Car2Go abandoned Stockholm late 2016 with some 5000 users and 250 cars and DriveNow left Stockholm some weeks ago both blaming parking cost, road tolls and too few customers. There are similar stories in other cities including the mother of electrical car pools, Autolib in Paris with over 4,000 cars, 3,200 docking stations and 150,000 subscribers, which was shut down this summer. But even when these vehicles are used it is by people who already are in the city and it primarily replace use of public transportation, cycling and walking. And since each of the mobility services are operated in isolation they don’t contribute to MaaS yet.

I am deeply worried about our planet and have decided to focus my efforts on the Urban Mobility issues since I believe there we can make a big and quick difference if we really want to. The challenge is complex but enormous amounts are invested in the mobility space why I believe the key to the solution is cities orchestrating all components and initiatives using a systematic approach (in Sweden we say make everyone pull in the same direction) aiming at MaaS.

One of my core beliefs is that each city need a Mobility-as-a-Service platform to start gather different transportation related services on and make them available to companies who develop transportation services to citizens, visitors and organisations. A service platform like that needs to support all types of urban mobility related services, multi-lateral business relationships, data integrity, financial transactions and have to be very agile, secure, robust and scalable. I’m not aware of any platform meeting those requirements today but the Springworks SPARK platform meets all except the financial transaction support and we are continuously looking for more partners and cities who want to be among the first to deploy their first versions of MaaS IRL.


No, self-driving cars are still not around the corner

March 20, 2018

Self-driving carAutonomous cars have been a hot topic for a couple of years now. It is indeed a very interesting and complex technical challenge connected to potential resolution of very serious problems and innovative use cases. But it is also about culture and liability which I believe always takes very long time to cope with.

The tragic news that a car in an autonomous trial in US killed a woman yesterday can’t be a surprise to anyone. There has been a lot of accidents with autonomous cars before, traffic is very dangerous and cars kill people every day. Each accident is followed up carefully to understand what happened, why and who is to be blamed for what. Traffic rules, law, policies, insurances, vendor responsibilities etc are in place to help deal with these tragic events. Here is the core problem with autonomous cars – when a car make a mistake, who is liable? And, do I want to meet self-driving cars on the road or fly airplanes without pilots?

Already in the Reuter article we start to see arguments about who owned the software in the car, which brand it had, if the car actually did anything wrong or if a person driving would have been able to avoid the collision. Also that the woman seems to have walked outside the crosswalk, that she had a bicycle and that she might have been homeless. But truth is that it is unclear who is responsible and for what.

I remain convinced that we will not have self-driving cars on normal roads together with other traffic and in normal speed until you and I are ready to have our kids walking to school meeting those cars. My best guess is not before 2030. And given that “rain, snow and ice are particularly challenging for autonomous cars” maybe we just should forget about it in Sweden.


From Smart to Great Cities

November 22, 2017
most-beautiful-cities-barcelona-cr-gettyMost cities have jumped on the Smart City train and it is considered an important and good thing to do by virtually everyone. But it is unclear who drives that train, where it is going and when it will arrive. I prefer talking about Great Cities since that is something we all understand, can argue about and contribute to. A Great City to me is a safe, sustainable and efficient city where people are healthy and happy. A place I would like to live in, work in and visit. It takes systematic and continuous innovation to become and stay a Great City, and systematic innovation requires infrastructure and scalable platforms to be in place.

It is obvious that technology is a key tool to continuously make our cities better especially in terms of efficiency, sustainability, safety/security and convenience. These are the key deliverables of IoT so no wonder IoT is hot today. By connecting the physical world to the Internet of people and organisations already in place, IoT enables us to make processes completely digital thus more efficient and ready for “turbo effects” from things like Machine Learning. This drives digital transformation and the impact on people, businesses and cities will be as big as when internet arrived.

But this is not enough to make cities great. It is still primarily human beings living, working and visiting the cities why “core platforms” like decent infrastructure, healthcare, social care and education for all is required. So is an environment where people feel safe and can breathe fresh air, drink fresh water and enjoy their human rights. And not the least enjoy nature, art, design, good food and time with people they love and care for.

With my definition of Smart Cities as Great Cities I unfortunately can’t think of any. Many make progress on the technical side but when it comes to “core platforms” there is a lot more to wish for. The “core platform” we have in Sweden is relatively good which I believe attracts talent and explains some of the quite successful startup community we have, but we have ways to go.


The power of making aware

June 1, 2017

It’s common wisdom that what you measure becomes important. That’s how we humans work. A clock makes you focus on time and so on. I consider myself a good driver having been driving 39 years without serious accidents and only a few speed tickets. When my kids practiced for driving license I heard about eco driving and thought that was a great initiative for the youngsters.

In November last year I signed up for the TeliaSense service which promised an easier car ownership through innovative services and features accessible from a nice app. I opted in to an annual inspection service from Bilprovningen, a maintenance service from Bilia and a road side assistance service from Viking which added good value to the car related services and Wi-Fi already in the app. Then in February I got a message that Eco Driving was added to the app and I immediately took a look more out of curiosity than to verify my superior driving skills. What! A big red and angry smiley starring at me! And in that moment I painfully recalled all the times my wife have told me that I’m driving aggressively.
From that day I have looked at the coloured smileys every single day. And guess what, it has changed my driving habits a lot.
I am amazed over my own behaviour! Yes I am a fighter and hate to lose but I would never have guessed that it would take me three months to become a better driver for my wife, my fellow drivers on the road and most importantly for the planet just because my driving was measured from an eco driving point of view and presented in my face.
I have also been presented statistics about what happens to people’s electricity consumption when their consumption is visualised to them and believe visualising individualised behaviour is a really good way to create value from IoT.
I’m working with Springworks who deliver this unique connected car service country by country together with mobile operators like Telia and it feels really good to see all work we do become something as meaningful as this!

Autonomous cars not around the corner

April 26, 2017

KITT_Knight_Rider2The car industry has its challenges. From being the ultimate provider of freedom, personal transportation and quality of life it now is supposed to solve the safety and sustainability issues it created. The very complicated and expensive cars of today are not utilised enough (5,5% according to my TeliaSense app), consume too much space, cause a lot of accidents and impact our planet badly when produced, used and discarded. It’s easy to suggest public transportation as an alternative but as soon as leaving the urban areas that is falling short. Intuitively the solution would include new ways of owning and using cars, electrical engines, even more safety features and cross-industry innovation within the car eco system. And since we can’t wait 10-15 years the cars already on the road must be included at least to some degree.

With this in mind I find today’s focus on self driving cars strange. We have continuous safety improvements in new cars, they are connected and loaded with sensors and most manufacturers have electric engines in some models. Also cars on the roads are being connected using the OBD port and offered services from the car eco-systems. But autonomous cars is what the industry, media and strangely enough IT companies are talking most about. I understand that manufacturers work on self driving cars since it’s a very complex challenge which will take many years to sort out, and it will bring continuous innovation to the cars down the road. But why talking so much about it already today? The technical challenges are big but not what will determine how soon we will see self-driving cars on the road. It’s culture, law and policies!

Take a look at airplanes. They are very complicated to make and fly but self-flying planes are here or at least around the corner depending on definitions. So are we ready for choosing flights with or without pilots? And which one would be cheaper? Imagine the first autonomous car running over a person or two in US, and what the penalties will do to the car maker involved. Some people argue we will have new infrastructure for self driving cars. But with new infrastructure I guess we could be more innovative than making cars without steering wheel.

The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) classification for autonomous cars has six levels, from none (Level 0) to fully automated systems (Level 5). Level 3 is a vehicle in which within known, limited environments (such as freeways), the driver can safely turn their attention away from driving tasks, but must still be prepared to take control when needed. Berg Insight estimates registrations of 16,5M new Level 3 cars and 7,8M new Level 4 cars and no fully autonomous ones (Level 5) 2030.

I’m sure we can make very good but not perfect self-driving vehicles a couple of years from now but can’t see them being used on public roads for many years, unless very limited in speed. There has been some early progress when it comes to regulation here and there but I haven’t seen any progress in the field of liability yet. And I guess a generation or two of drivers will probably have to disappear from the roads before it happens.


Inspiring example: Infracontrol makes cities talk

July 21, 2014

smartcityOne of the most talked about areas for Internet of Things is Smart Cities. Cities themselves invest to become one. Most of the large players in IoT focus on Smart Cities. There are events, predictions, articles and show cases everywhere and each and everyone use their own definition of Smart Cities. A city is a very complex and dynamic location which from an ICT point of view could be described as a system of systems. It is obvious that sub-systems could be more efficient using IoT solutions and that the overall system of systems could be improved if the data collected was shared cleverly between the systems. No wonder Smart Cities is a perfect topic to focus on both for suppliers and municipalities.

But how much smarter has cities become over the last years? Well, there are of course impressive reference cases here and there and a lot of sub-systems in a lot of cities have become better using IoT solutions. But the size and complexity of pulling it all together in a city is difficult to deal with both from practical and technical perspectives.

This is why I am really impressed by Infracontrol, their pragmatic approach to Smart Cities and what they have been able to do. They started about 20 years ago to help cities connecting mainly traffic related things like tunnel alarms, ventilation systems and traffic lights. As they grew bigger in several cities and with new applications they developed Infracontrol Online™ 2003 to connect cities and citizens for better services. Today they have 56 Swedish municipalities using Infracontrol Online™ and their first ones in Portugal in place as well. Their customers report 60% better service quality, 30% savings in maintenance expenses, a lot of energy savings and higher citizen satisfaction. Sounds smart to me! Needless to say Infracontrol is a member of  the Swedish SMSE-alliance!

Get inspired by Jenny Gustavsson’s 5 minute pitch on Infracontrol at Internet of Everything For Real™ 2014!


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