Up close with Claus von Hessberg

SkedGo founder and CEO Claus von Hessberg talks about his take on MaaS, smart cities and SkedGo’s role in the industry.

Q: What’s your vision for SkedGo?

A: To have the best platform enabling Mobility as a Service and other personal transport offerings.

Transport is at the start of massive change with many new business models and mobility applications emerging. Most of them will be about giving users more choices and relying less on owning cars. That requires easy access to all transport modes in one place so developers can shape interesting new offerings without the overhead of having to integrate individual services.

SkedGo’s platform already integrates 3,000 service providers of every type of transport, including parking and that number is constantly growing. Our routing solutions consider all of them and produce the full spectrum of trips people take in real life.

Importantly that includes ‘trip chains’, also called mixed-modal or intermodal trips, a reality for many people that combine personal, commercial and/or public transport modes.

Trip chains are also critical for ridesharing first and last mile combinations with transit. Without that ridesharing, demand responsive transport and autonomous cars will all just add lots of traffic.

And with driving still the major form of personal transport we consider private cars in the mix of trip solutions we offer. Showing drivers smart and traffic-avoiding alternatives, such as park and ride, ride and cycle etc. encourages the positive behaviour changes cities need far more that just serving non-driving solutions that ignore their cars.

Through partnerships with mobile ticketing and other payment processing companies we also allow for an increasing number of services to be paid through the SkedGo’s platform.

We are giving MaaS operators and developers creating other mobility applications access to all of this through our API and tools.

We will also continue to push the boundaries with our own TripGo app so our team and TripGo’s many users prove and improve the solutions coming from the SkedGo platform.

Q: Do you think smart cities are the future and why?

A: Yes I’m totally convinced they are inevitable.

Because cities’ current models are lacking coordination between services and are very resource inefficient. With the projected growth of cities their infrastructure and budgets are coming under ever increasing pressures the current models can’t possibly address.

The convergence of ITC, consumer devices, IoT, and increasingly also automation, use of machine learning and AI will provide the only viable mix of solutions for cities to keep up with the demands placed on them.

Many different models will appear and whilst we can’t yet determine which will be more successful, both governments and industry have started to develop solutions showing the way.

Q: What are current and future challenges for smart mobility/Mobility as a Service?

A: The big one right now is for individual service providers to join transport marketplaces that allow MaaS operators and others to combine and on-sell their services. We especially need to find ways to overcome service provider resistance to others processing payments on their behalf and ‘owning’ the users. Single account for all mobility need is an obvious must have for MaaS.

Only then can we fully test what works best for urban travellers.

We and other developers of personal mobility applications will have to measure, learn and iterate to produce ever more compelling offerings.

Q: What’s your favourite smart city example?

A: Difficult for me to judge as our focus has been mostly on transport and related areas and smart cities have many more facets to them.

From what I know Singapore is one of the all-round most advanced smart city right now.

In the transport domain I’d pick Finland, for their new transport code coming into effect in 2018. That legislation will create open and interoperable transport marketplace enabling MaaS and making Finland a transport sector pioneer. It’s the main reason we created a SkedGo subsidiary there.

Q: Where do you see MaaS going in the next years?

A: As mentioned earlier, firstly cities will see many transport providers integrated into marketplaces and single account options. Digital platforms like SkedGo’s are key to that, but it will also require regulation, contractual and financial negotiations.

Then we will see many different models of MaaS appear before the strongest models prevail and consolidate in a more mature industry.

In as little as ten years I expect MaaS common in many developed cities. People will have MaaS accounts that give them seamless and personalised access to all transport options not only in their home cities but also when travelling.

The big variables will be how automated vehicles and demand responsive transport offerings will mesh with MaaS.

Q: What role is SkedGo playing in the MaaS scene?

A: We provide the digital platform and transport marketplaces that enable MaaS. In addition, we continue to pioneer front end solutions for personalised mobility applications.

Q: How does the TripGo API help developers and OEM’s in the MaaS space?

A: It massively lowers the barriers to develop MaaS and other mobility offerings. The work of our talented engineers and PhDs continues to do the heavy integration lifting and multi-objective routing to make it ever easier for others to build their applications.

We recently set a target of 30 minutes from a developer starting to use our API to them being able to show trips in their application. It’s already down to a few hours and we expect to get it down to half an hour by end of Q4 2017.

Q: You’ve recently won the NSW Smart City Accessibility Challenge. What does that mean for special needs transport users?

A: Providing them with better and more timely information about transport options that are accessible to them. Give them as many choices as possible and make it easier for them to participate in more professional, personal and social activities.

For wheelchair users we started providing routing that shows door-to-door wheelchair accessible trips, advising in real-time the status of critical facilities such as station lifts, including automatic rerouting when necessary and showing wheelchair friendliness of footpaths.

We are also working with Autism CRC and Curtis University in Australia to help them create a personal mobility application on top of our platform, designed to specifically meet the needs of the 1% of people that are on the autistic spectrum.

Q: How can governments and city councils benefit from your service?

A: SkedGo contributes in three ways. First as I mentioned earlier, the platform provides more choices and smart alternatives, especially for drivers, to positively affect people’s travel behaviour.

Secondly to give cities and large companies already providing government services a way to create smarter and fairer solutions with transport providers, such as on-demand transport, park and ride, accessible transport and more.

And finally, wherever we have critical mass, by providing analytics to help planning, policy and load sharing.

Thanks for taking the time to share your views Claus!