We took advantage of the fact that we were in Barcelona for EVS27 to meet with several members of the SuperHub team. The SuperHub project (http://superhub-project.eu) was introduced in a previous newsletter but for the benefit of those who missed that issue,we will provide a summary description.
SUPERHUB (SU stainable and Persuasive Human Users moBility in future cities) is a multi-year project co-financed by the European Commission that involves 20 partners from a variety of fields, including transit and other transport agencies, telecommunications, academia and local government. Simply put, SuperHub is an open source platform and mobile app able to help a user plan customized urban routes by combining all mobility offers in real time.
So, why have we been following this project’s progress, expected to be finalized in 2014? Because it fits neatly inside MARCON’s future mobility model. A seamless, shared, multimodal mobility system will function best when the user is provided complete mobility information (from a variety of transport modes) and options that meet his/her needs and preferences and all this, with the ease of using a simple app on his/her smartphone.
Here’s how it works. In the registration process, the user provides information about him/herself, including but not limited to mobility behaviours and preferences (example: interest in walking part of the route, preference for using the bus, bicycle, …), physical or psychological limitations (a handicap, claustrophobia), and the importance to him/her of contributing positively to the environment. The app takes all of these personal parameters into consideration when making route option suggestions. The options presented are accompanied by timing information as well as cost. When it comes to timing, every effort has been made to provide as precise information as possible.
In fact, the information is updated continuously, not only with data provided by transit and other mobility service providers but also with data gathered through social media (example, cross-referencing information regarding a vehicular accident or other event that will likely cause delays, timing information is updated continuously in real time). A “gamification” element has also been incorporated intothe app for those indicating a pro-environmental stance. For a route selected, the app provides “environmental points” to users for their contributions in helping the environment with the mobility choice they have made. Will these be convertible into carbon credits in the future? We don’t know. But one of the objectives of this app is to encourage changes in mobility behaviours, thereby promoting a more sustainable mobility model.
As the MARCON model proposes, future mobility must be sustainable and accessible to all citizens. Technology supported solutions, like the SuperHub, will be key enablers in the implementation of future mobility models and will ensure its sustainability in the short and long term. It is time that citizens in all metropolitan areas gain easy access to seamless, multimodal, complete and precise mobility information. The SuperHub project has been built on a modular framework, is already available in eight languages and, according to the team, designed to be replicated in any metropolitan area.
A special thanks goes out to the members of the SuperHub team who took time to meet with us and share their thought sand in sights regarding their project.
Catherine Kargas, MBA, ECBS
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