Cars are being used less and less in German cities, with ever more people relying on existing public transport options. As digitalization progresses, so expand transport options, especially as regards shared transport. This is how e-scooters fit into the jigsaw puzzle of German city transport. The trend is by no means a self-starter, though. How can this kind of option be made more attractive and therefore more accepted?
The answer to this is being researched as part of the “ScooP” project by the consortium led by the Research and Innovation Center for Cognitive Service Systems (KODIS) of the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO. In numerous interviews and discussions with city and local authorities, e-scooter fleet suppliers and other micromobility players, it was made clear that getting the support required for roll-out faces some serious challenges. It was also highlighted that the genuine added value for the parties involved will only be realized if the service is more than just a multi-operator data platform. Advisory services on organizational and legal issues for e-scooters in urban areas as well as communication-oriented services to strengthen trust in the collaboration are considered particularly valuable.
More than just a data platform
Working in collaboration with Traffgo Road GmbH and the von Beust & Coll. Beratungsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, Fraunhofer IAO created the concept of a data-driven platform to function as the basis of trusting partnerships by establishing legal and (data) technology standards as well as advisory services for cities and sharing service providers. “As a city, we welcome a neutral contact being available to us in future, who can offer us advice and support us with data management,” explains Jens Boysen, Head of the City of Heilbronn Department of Transportation and Mobility.
The platform designed can also be used as a service ecosystem that addresses the needs of micromobility stakeholders as well as those of citizens. Janika Kutz, Fraunhofer IAO Research Fellow, explains: “As we see it, creating a solution that offers a variety of services is particularly important. It needs a wide range of services so that there is something for every local authority and provider. The services can range from initial advice to city experience exchange and smart data analysis tools.”
This kind of thing will be integrated into the data services right from the start, such as tools that enable a central data exchange between providers and cities as well as demand-specific analyses of mobility data and any other services that it becomes apparent are required through the course of the project. In addition, a data- and experience-based selection of parking and driving zones will be available, as well as forecasts on e-scooter fleet usage and advice on how to integrate micromobility into a city’s mobility concept. A framework agreement has already been drawn up to provide a contractual basis for future collaborations. The service will be valued by local authorities and providers alike.
Communication, trust and collaboration as a basis for a successful mobility revolution
Throughout the project, it has become apparent that a good way to address current challenges is to introduce a neutral mediator for the parties who supports them in finding solutions by creating a dialog between them. “To achieve our Vision Zero, we want to open up a dialog to discuss how Voi (sharing service provider) can work together with local authorities, transport planners and experts to make sure that e-scooter sharing systems are road safe and that they function alongside other transport methods. ScooP’s format is pioneering and has facilitated an exchange that is beneficial in many ways. We’re really looking forward to collaborating more in the future,” says Neele Reimann-Phillip of Voi.The project consortium’s aim is to sustainably strengthen and maintain trusting collaboration between parties over the long term. Trust is fundamental to successful collaboration, especially when it comes to exchanging and providing data. As well as legal data protection concerns, the competitive interests of all parties involved must also be safeguarded. A platform can be created based on the concept developed in ScooP to facilitate trustworthy data exchange, including the necessary framework conditions —an important foundation for overcoming challenges and realizing the potential of e-scooters sustainably. The transport revolution can only succeed if cities, transport providers, policymakers and researchers work together to improve the offering and structures in place. Only by doing so can micromobility services be accepted as a mode of inner city transport.