Dear TravelSpirit Community Member.
The year of our birth, 2016, is coming to a close, so what better time to reflect on our story so far, and what we can hope to achieve in 2017…
The year started with a hive of activity by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), University of Salford and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) to create our first core digital asset, www.travelspirit.io, that was launched in March, followed up by press releases by TfGM and MMU to get the word out there and let the disruption begin.
Meanwhile, our affiliate partner, MaaS Global (at the time MaaS Finland) put its foot on the accelerator, with a global tour of the world (including UK, Australia and Canada), spreading the message of what we at TravelSpirit Foundation like to call ‘Sampo’s MaaS v1.0’. This has been an extremely helpful, crystal-clear, ‘call to arms’ to the public transport industry and cities of the opportunity to create a major shift to shared transportation, if the industry could find a way of embracing the concept of opening up their booking systems to enable customers to have a car-free lifestyle through a single mobile app service and Netflix-style subscription payments.
Here at TravelSpirit Foundation headquarters, we complemented the efforts of MaaS Global’s engagement with cities and the transporation industry by a reach-out programme to the digital tech community. Through our open-source software agenda, we soon founded strong interest from open source communities in North America, France, Northern Italy (Bolzano), the Netherlands and the home of MaaS Global, Finland. This rapidly translated into a working, reciprocal partnership with transport-orientated open-source community organisations PlannerStack (Netherlands) and FabMob (France). We also brought on board start-ups and established technology firms relevant to realising MaaS, such as Drivenow, Simply Connect, Republic of Things, Penrillian, TransportAPI, Mydex, Texxi, BarclayCard, BT and TechNorth.
In April we hit the UK Smart City scene, with support of our founding partners University of Salford and Manchester Metropolitan University. At the Urban IoT Showcase in London we were exhibited alongside CityVerve and Triangulum (Manchester’s Smart City demonstrator projects) as an inspirational ‘case study’ of ‘how UK cities are at the heart of IoT revolution’. Similarly, we showcased at University of Salford’s Smart Cities Conference where we launched our ambition to ‘make the world a better place’ while creating a new multi-billion pound a year MaaS market eco-system thriving and supported by a global commons of code.
Our activity helped cement solid support from key UK-based organisations Codethink, HiveIT, Alliance Manchester Business School, Ordnance Survey, ITS UK, the Institution of Engineering & Technology, Alstom UK and the UK Department for Transport (DfT); who helped to sponsor our very own launch event in Manchester: TravelSpirit Community Design Workshop, on the 28th June, in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit result.
Ahead of our launch event, the month of May saw Alstom UK, DfT and Codethink make generous donations of their senior staff time, to populate a new voluntary Executive Board, chaired by Si Ho (TfGM), who were able to initiate the new open governance arrangements for our the foundation, and help drive the organisation further forwards. It also saw the launch of TechNorth’s ‘Digital Powerhouse Report’, which, thanks to the foundation’s work with the author’s of the report, the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) included the promotion of open-source as a key-part of a digital growth strategy for the North of England and featured TravelSpirit as a ‘leading light’ case-study for other sectors to follow with interest.
With a mix of key-note and lightning talks by Sampo Hietanen (CEO MaaS Global), Alison Pilling (Smart Programme lead for Transport for the North), Jonny Voon (Lead IoT and Blockchain Technologist, InnovateUK), Gabriel Plassat (FabMob), Lucy Yu (our COO and Head of Innovation and MaaS, DfT), Monica Carlesso (Vice President for Digital Product, Barclaycard), Keith Kelly (Head of Locations, Enterprise Car Club), Alistair Kirkbride (Executive Director of Carplus) and Alex Burrows (our CEO and Strategy Director at Alstom) and lively break-out workshops centred around broad thematic areas of user experience, behavioural dimensions, role of open source and big data and market opportunities for MaaS, our circa 80 attendees were literally buzzing with excitement and a revived hope for on-going international collaboration, in a post Brexit world, through new ways of working that have been pioneered by the open source community.
Our event was the UK’s first open conference event that focussed purely on informing and raising the debate about Mobility as a Service. The day inspired many new partnership development activities and follow up articles in the trade press, including two educational and influential articles in the UK’s ‘Local Transport Today’. So, with a global reach still very much in mind, our Executive Board drove forward an agenda to capitalise on our new found fame within the UK transport and city scene.
Through our ‘Runway’ of Events over September and October, TravelSpirit Foundation went on the road with the Open Smart Cities event at Hebden Bridge (Yorkshire, UK), our own ‘Community Design Workshop II’ in London, the Transport Systems Catapult MaaS Conference in Birmingham, FabMob’s Open Source Asset Building Day (Paris), EU Travel Conference (Barcelona), Mozfest (London), and the UK Community Transport Association‘s thought leadership event, ‘Can Transport Innovation be Pro-Social?’ in London, along with a new hive of London-based engagement activity, led by our Director for International Affairs, Giles Bailey, including our ‘day in the sun’ at the Community Transport Associations’ Annual Conference (London), where we publicly launched our and 1st flagship product, RidePilot.
In the background our Executive Board were busy developing our Public Prospectus and strategic road map, which identified the Asia-Pacific, North America and UK markets as our strategic focus for development. Our CTO, Rob Taylor, helped shape our approach to technology and at the end of August successfully launched our own open-source repository, gitlab.travelspirit.io as our 2nd core digital asset for the community, enabling Transport for Greater Manchester to open-source the What3Words addresses of bus stops in GM.
The launch of our gitlab also provided the focus for more detailed discussions with affiliate partner BT, which led to the publication of their journey time prediction algorithms, under Mozilla Public Licence Version 2.0 on the 1st December – a real ‘watermark’ achievement for the foundation – our first software code donation into the global open source community, and step towards a MaaS Catalogue of Core Components whose on-going developments will be governed by TravelSpirit Community for utilisation within an overall MaaS ‘blue-print’ we are building, in the background, with support from partners University College London and UIPT (International Organisation for Public Transport Authorities and Operators).
September also saw a change of CTO. With Rob Taylor turning his full attention on series-A funding for his new enterprise, reconfigure.io, and the development a strong partnership between Portland and Manchester on our 1st flagship produce, RidePilot, we were successful in appointing Jeremy Dalton, of Portland, Oregon, as our new CTO. Jeremy’s appointment gave the foundation new international breadth, especially in terms of the strategic need, identified by Executive Board, for stronger relations with the West Coast of North America for development of both the North American and Asia Pacific markets.
Jeremy arrived with an incredible amount of new energy, immediately taking on a complete overhaul of the TravelSpirit Brand Identity, establishing the 1st TravelSpirit Market Project Board, developing our ‘TravelSpirit Hackout’ format, and defining, with support from founding partner Transport for Greater Manchester, the foundations’ capability and offer in the space of ‘Connected & Autonomous Vehicles’, linked to our 2017 plans for the launch our 2nd flagship product, Kubo. He is also charged with establishing a North American Market Project Board over 2017.
UK Market Project Board was formally established in November, formed of 10 Director level positions, with appointments ranging from Director for Policy & Communications (Beate Kubitz) to Director for Payments (Derek Halden) with representation from the car sharing community (Joseph Seal-Driver, Director of Mobility Operations) and the addition of Transport for West Midlands into the UK partnership mix (Chris Lane, Director of Federated API’s).
Giles Bailey (Director of International Affairs) has accepted the position of Chair to the Project Board, whose current composition covers tech based SME’s, consultancy businesses, public transport industry, city and academic interests. UK Market Project Board have agreed a 2017 workplan that covers a mix of “thought leadership” and “practical delivery” projects that will demonstrate the capabilities of the TravelSpirit Foundation to the UK Market.
UK Project Board activity includes a forthcoming series of ‘White Papers’ – first one due in February, development of an inter-regional MaaS demonstrator, between the cities of Birmingham and Manchester and our first TravelSpirit Hackout, hosted by Transport for Greater Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, on the weekend of the 17th March, that is linked to UITP’s Youth for Public Transport Global Hackathon – with the winners of our event attending a Global Hackathon in Montreal in May.
Our affiliate partner, Department for Transport, have ended the year with the launch of a new Innovation Challenge Fund, that is set, post-Brexit, to take a UK-led charge into the ‘digitisation of transport’ agenda, with Mobility as a Service very much at the front of mind…and Simply Connect are about to commence their public fundraising activity on equity crowdfunding platform seedrs.
With respect to the Asia Pacific Market, we have made two appointments. Li Yao and Simon Pickup, our two Vice President’s for the Asia Pacific market. Li completed a trade mission on behalf of the foundation to the Chinese cities of Tianjin, Jinan, Xi’an and Wuhan in November as part of a wider UK Urbanisation Roadshow to China event by the British Embassy. He has since been developing closer relationships with the UK’s Department of International Trade and is planning his next trade mission to the Asian Development Bank and South East Asia, in March, where he’ll be developing market development prospects in Vietnam, Indonesia and Myanmar. Simon is currently in Australia, making contacts with MaaS Australia and establishing our market presence and partnership working arrangements in Australasia. Both VP’s are charged with establishing a Market Project Board in the Asia Pacific over 2017.
And in a final flurry of pre-Christmas progress, ‘gold medallist’ partners, Transport for West Midlands and MaaS Global entered into a collaboration agreement to see MaaS Global’s Whim app launch, over 2017, in Birmingham, Alstom UK acquired Nomad Digital, to strengthen their MaaS capability and BT launched a MaaS enabling DataHub in Manchester, based on the open-source IoT specificiation, called HyperCat.
So, what is on the horizon for 2017? With this 2016 Newsletter, we have instigated our 3rd digital asset – a new LinkedIn members group called ‘TravelSpirit: Open Source Mobility as a Service‘. Given the speed of change out there and the unpredictable nature of disruption, we’d welcome you to read, in hindsight, our 2017 Newsletter next year to see what happens next!
Best wishes and good fortune for 2017,
Si Ho, Chair