Millennials’ reflections on urban mobility

SocialCar at Social Event KULeuven – Campus Brussels

small_socialcar_logoSince June 2015, Mpact is involved in the Horizon2020 project SocialCar. In this project we are working on an open source architecture for an urban mobility app. Specifically in the project we integrate data from different transport operators in one app with a user-friendly interface: one app to go from point A to point B.

I don’t know so much about technology, but luckily I have great developers in my team and the project consortium. My role on the other hand, is to keep the user in the focus of the SocialCar project. And yesterday I had a great opportunity to ask feedback to an international group of students.

Every year at the University KULeuven-campus Brussel, the economy department organizes a social event for last-year students, the entrepreneurs from tomorrow. The students get in contact with social entrepreneurs and are challenged to give answers on several social issues. It’s a very nice event, that enriches the curriculum of economy students a lot.

students4I was invited as representative from Mpact. The main question I raised to the students was about the importance of a multimodal transport app, and the barriers for carpooling in an urban environment. 8 groups of students gave a presentation about their reflections. And as the group was international, their focus was not only on Brussels, but also on Mexico City, Beijing, Madrid, Tel Aviv, etc.

In general, there was a huge consensus on the importance of one integrated app: It’s so efficient, and students are facing problems to store apps on their smartphone.

Most groups also recommended an integrated payment for bike-sharing, metro, taxi, … no more cash. Payments should be cashless, Paypal or credit card based (and if possible without deposits for bike-sharing).

“Passengers know more than the operators”.

I really enjoyed the quote coming from the first group: “Passengers know more than the operators”. This means that we have to integrate real-time data coming from operators, but the way we show it and build algorithms must be smart: Users have to make easily their choices by using filters: “I’m in a hurry” – “For me a ride without emissions”, “most calorie burning”,… And much more: Users are able to produce very useful data about quality, incidents, pleasure, safety, …

“We all once used a carpool app”

students1Their input for carpooling was enormously inspiring for us. As Mpact we have 40 years of experience to promote and organize carpooling, but we appreciate every refreshment very much. This time the fresh air came from a colorful group of millennials.  Some-one started a slide with “We all once used a carpool app”. For him, probably an uninformative quote, but for me really triggering. The other students gave me a non-verbal confirmation.

This evidence of carpooling means a lot for us, and our SocialCar project. This generation is really open to share cars. An evidence lost by their parents and grand-parents. In terms of technology this means a lot also: We don’t have to invent complicated features and add gamification tools, etc. We just have to present it in an evident way, straight forward.

The only thing which matters a lot for them are reviews on drivers and passengers: reviews are crucial.  It doesn’t matter which color or sexe some-one has, it’s about his online reputation. This is really hopeful especially after the act of terror in Brussels two days before. Identity is about what you do and your behavior towards each-other.

So, I’m really grateful to the students for their reflections. And I hope that the SocialCar app will create a new balance in our cities, for transport and even more.