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MaaS is already close to being a reality

In Finland, Mobility as a Service is moving from the hype phase towards real development projects and practical implementation. One good example of this is Case Seinäjoki, which was introduced at SITO’s MaaS seminar at the beginning of June.

Presented at the seminar by SITO project manager Jaakko Rintamäki and Deputy Head of Department Noora Salonen, Case Seinäjoki is expounded in this newsletter.

The seminar “MaaS – how to move from talk to concrete actions” attracted a total of 75 excited participants. The fact that concrete mobility services are advancing was already apparent in the opening speakers’ speeches.

The Government is throwing its support behind MaaS

Marko Forsblom from the Ministry of Transport and Communication was pleased to inform the crowd that the new Government Programme could not be much more supportive of MaaS. Matters recorded in the new Government Programme include the promotion of new technology, digitalisation and business concepts through legislative measures. Open data and more efficient use of data assets will create better conditions for new business ideas.

Furthermore, systematic testing will be adopted, while also creating the regulatory groundwork to facilitate experiments. Savings of 10 per cent in publicly-subsidised transports will be targeted by utilising new types of market-driven, innovative service concepts, achieved via changes in the legislation.

In other words, the Government seems to be doing its best to remove obstacles to MaaS, while also promoting the generation of new kinds of service concepts.

The authorities as enablers of activities

In her opening speech, expert Asta Tuominen from the Finnish Transport Agency emphasised the fact that the authorities are not tasked with innovating and creating services. Services are provided on a market-driven basis, with companies being primarily responsible for their provision. However, the duties of the Finnish Transport Agency include acting as an enabler and supporter of more efficient activities. – For instance, in Case Seinäjoki we participated as a contributor of information and also had a hand in development.

In the future, the authorities may face new kinds of challenges as MaaS becomes a reality. Asta Tuominen reminded her listeners that if and when MaaS is realised, public transport as it is currently known will necessarily undergo major changes. “For example, robot cars will require changes to the transport infrastructure,” she noted.

The public can already try out Robot cars on the Housing Fair’s grounds in Vantaa in July. CIO Juha Kenraali from Trafi told the audience that Trafi is already enabling the testing of autonomous cars in Finnish traffic.

Open and compatible data

Juha Kenraali felt that there are plenty of obstacles to the development of MaaS services.  “Services are created on the basis of data, and data is not yet open enough. The data possessed by corporations, for instance, should unquestionably be made open and accessible.”

CEO Sampo Hietanen from ITS Finland shared the same opinion: “Data must also be compatible.

Finland has every opportunity to develop into the world’s leading MaaS country. We already have the required infrastructure, but we do need to hurry, since other countries are not exactly twiddling their thumbs either.” According to Hietanen, Germany is just one country that is following not too far behind.

Let us roll up our sleeves and get cracking!

After the opening speeches, the discussion continued in five themed workshops. Interesting aspects, challenges and opportunities were brought up. The most important thing at present is to roll up our sleeves and start developing MaaS services. As another group, discussing internationalisation, summed up the issue: Bold proactive approach, the right MaaS experiments underway this year, and the international market targeted immediately.

Asta_Tuominen_150x150– “It is the authorities’ duty to enable new MaaS services,” Asta Tuominen emphasised.

 

 

 

Marko_Forsblom_150x150– “The Government Programme includes significant policy guidelines pertaining to MaaS,” says Marko Forsblom.

 

 

 

Juha_Kenraali_150x150– “All hidden data must be made accessible – including corporate data,” Juha Kenraali demanded.

 

 

 

Juha_Kenraali_150x150– “Finland must hurry if it wants to be the leading MaaS country,” Sampo Hietanen stated.

 

 

 

Text and photographs: Dakota Lavento