To make collective transport more attractive to city residents the developers of the app “ally” have worked on a suitable solution to reduce individual traffic and made a contribution to a greener and more efficient public transport system.
GPSM: Could you briefly describe “ally” and how it differs from other urban mobility and local transportation apps?
Ally offers city dwellers smart navigation through their cities. Our internationally active community if commuters, open data enthusiasts and urban innovators help us to make city transport systems smoother and smarter. Thanks to our sophisticated backend infrastructure, we are able to analyse routes, schedules, prices and navigation behaviour enabling us to go one step further by offering valuable information on transport optimisation.
GPSM: What is your prognosis for the future of urban mobility and what impact will further digitalization and mobile technology have?
Urban mobility will be demand driven, quite similar to how we already consume media and other services today. Our goal is to reduce individual traffic and instead prioritise collective transport. This of course requires the use of innovative technology, in this case, our “transport cloud”. Mobile technology will be able to analyse precisely the supply demand balance and pave the way for data driven collective transport Solutions.
GPSM: How will digitalization change travel behaviour and how will “a world of data driven mobility, where we experience self-driving mass transit”, as stated in your vision, look like?
By collective transport, we envision medium-scale busses that would fill in the currently existing gap between public and individual transport. The pioneering aspect about this is that the latter would no longer follow static and default routes, but instead drive as dynamic and autonomous means of transport, based on the commuters’ actual needs. This vision of “the future” is already here as driverless vehicles are being implemented in the daily lives of citizens. They promise to not only help, but revolutionise the commuting habits. Nowadays, transport relies on outdated routes and rigid schedules at best. We want to break with this anachronism by building an algorithm that offers tomorrow’s best transport solution, ending the serendipitous reign of organised chaos in the transport systems around the globe.
GPSM: How can cities in emerging and developing countries, where modes of transport, infrastructures and regulations are informal and unrecorded, benefit from an urban mobility app that was developed for German/Western urban structures? How applicable is such an experience?
To assume that what works in Germany can be replicated in emerging and developing countries would be a huge mistake. We think the other way around, we don’t code for, but we code with. This means that we perform deep research to understand the needs and challenges of those countries. By aggregating, analysing and deploying transport data, along with the above mentioned help of the community and diverse partners, we are able to provide a useful and valuable solution to each of these cities. Recently, we successfully validated our expertise in two highly challenging cities: In Istanbul we digitalised the entire minibus route network, while in Dar es Salaam we charted the city grid via GPS. The latter being a joint collaboration with the World Bank to visualise the City Transport System and provide the citizens with the first app to navigate the quaint Daladalas minibus share Taxis.
GPSM: Which experiences do you have with crowdsourced open data in different parts of the world – can you give us an example? How do policies need to be adapted to guarantee data access for different stakeholders?
Dar es Salaam, the biggest city in Tanzania, is currently home to 4.3 million people and experiencing a growth rate of 5.6% per annum. This exponential growth has given way to sprawled expansion which has outpaced the capacity of basic infrastructure and services such as Public Transport. Ally accepted this challenge from a city that, like many others in expansion, is willing to improve through the positive impact of technology, Open Data and innovation; all of them subject matters of our daily work. Within a few weeks, and in cooperation with the World Bank, Ramani Huria, HOT (Humanitarian Open Street Map Team), -international Red Cross parties and students from the Technical University Munich, ally helped mapping Dar es Salaam from scratch by making use of the Drone Imagery provided by Ramani Huria, an organization mapping communities for flood resilience. On a second stage, together with the World Bank and volunteers from the University of Dar es Salaam, ally helped mapping out the Daladala bus routes with GPS technology. – After post-processing the data, the citizens of Dar es Salaam now have a smarter transport app that allows them to make use of the Public Transport more efficiently. Plus, all routes are Open Source in OSM (Open Street Map) for future projects like policy making data journalism, Hackathons etc… We evaluated the crowdsourced data and gained precise insights into transport needs in this African city. Finally, not only Dar es Salaam’s government, but also its many inhabitants, benefit from this Progress.
GPSM: What are your next projects and how do you plan to establish your “global platform for urban transportation data”, as stated in your mission?
The possibilities are endless in the field of transport and technology. As well as expanding to other cities with available data, we are currently developing our Open Source crowdsourcing strategy that will see many more cities with scarce digital data “on the map.” What does this mean? Currently more than 80% of the cities around the world lack Digital Open Data particularly in the field of Public Transport. There are many stakeholders involved in decreasing this number, one of them being the World Bank with whom we had the opportunity to work with in Dar es Salaam to develop the first app for commuters. This experience triggered our initiative to map cities’ public transport and to open source that data, in collaboration with our partners, to enable further digital Solutions.
Learn more about ally here: http://www.allyapp.com