Digital matters – think like a passenger

Keolis is counting on the fruits of its dedicated Observatory to stay one step ahead of the digital game. And so offer innovative and beneficial services going forward…

Digital is transforming public transport into a ‘user-centric’ profession,” says Jean-Pierre Farandou, president, Keolis. Our task is to explore and understand new uses.

In order to do just this, in June 2015 the transport group joined forces with Netexplo to launch ‘Keoscopie Digital‘, a Digital Mobility Observatory that is questioning common beliefs and certitudes, as well as exploring behaviour and developments – both current and anticipated – in the field of mobility.

“This Observatory also, importantly, embraces public service principles, insists Mr Farandou. “In other words, transport policies for everyone that are in tune with their diverse needs and expectations.”

“Furthermore our approach recognises the importance of disrupting innovation for other purposes,” adds Thierry Happe, president & co-founder, Netexplo.

‘[…] technology that has nothing to do with any given trade or business can upset several layers of established businesses.’

A journey through Smart Cities: Between Datapolis and Participolis,’ by Francis Pisani

Trends, surveys, analysis & beyond

In January 2016, Paris, the partners presented the fruits of their teamwork to date. These include the identification of seven key sociological trends, presented as follows:

  • public transport riders are seeking simplicity, trust in the brand (no uncertainty), and reactivity, i.e. when transport services are disrupted, alternatives are suggested immediately. They also want that ‘home from home’ feeling when out and about
  • meanwhile operators must strive to accompany passengers by guiding them remotely, as well as adopting a door-to-door mindset, i.e. today’s transport offer is not just about wheels; walking to/from the home/office to the transport stop/station forms part of its remit. Furthermore, restoring humanising elements to the mobility experience is a must.

“Traditional thinking has focusing on the transport ‘tool’, but with digital, final services are the goal. There can be no innovation without an open mind and multi-modal approach.”

Bernard Cathelat, sociologist & consultant, ExploLab.

Pick of the bunch

Over two months, the partners selected examples of digital innovations that caught their eyes, bringing together a final selection of 167, of which:

  • Veniam (Porto/Silicon Valley): the Internet of Moving Things, turning vehicles into Wi-Fi hotspots
  • Connexxion OV-chipkaart (the Netherlands): travelcard
  • CityZen (Amsterdam): creating value from data
  • KAPPO (Santiago, Chili): city cycling

The next step involved consulting 30 actors from the mobility field about these new solutions, over a six-week period.

Profiling: On the basis of the above work, Keolis has established four profiles of public transport user, baptised and categorised as follows:

Ongoing: a survey of 3,000 participants in France – interviews lasting 1h30; ages between 13 to 80 years – to test potential digital mobility services.

“The expectations and perceived benefits will subsequently be assessed and the results released in April 2016,” explained Mr Cathelat, “followed by prototypes and beta testing by Keolis.”

‘Customers expect the same kind of lifestyle services and connectivity from public transport vehicles and stations as they already have in their own environment and living space.’

Public Transport Trends 2015, UITP

Going the extra mile

“Smart cities are all well and good, but to make them really work, smart people are needed too,” reckons Mr Farandou

Keolis’ digital vision – whereby mobile applications take all the travel questions and decisions out of our hands and minds – comes across as ambitious and idealistic. Will these apps make us smart, or vulnerable? What if there is no connectivity, or your device is lost, stolen, out of battery, or you leave it at home?

But let’s not be too harsh. Through its Observatory the operator is simply doing its homework. Putting services for all at the heart of the matter is a growing trend. Digital is already transforming the public transport experience by putting a host of add-ons at our fingertips, e.g. real-time information, travel planners, alerts, timetables, and, of course, e-ticketing.

By investing time, money, and expertise in exploring every facet, Keolis is going the extra mile. And by taking users (all!) fully on board the development process from A to Z, it is clearly determined to do digital right…

‘Nowadays, most innovative companies go beyond this change of corporate culture [into a customer-orientated organisation]. Their strategic objective is to become a customer service leader. The corporate strategy of these companies is to reinforce their service culture by seeing things from the customer’s point of view, committing themselves to bring about continuous improvements, to anticipate customers’ needs and exceed their expectations.’

Public Transport Trends 2015, UITP



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