Back in 2011, we created our vision for the future of transportation, which we called NextCity™. At that time, I wasn’t aware of the phrase ‘MaaS,’ nor was I familiar with Uber or Lyft; dockless scooters weren’t a thing, and driverless cars were just for the movies. One of the things I’m particularly proud of is the fact that NextCity has stood the test of time, and despite all of these new developments, I strongly believe that the core concepts of NextCity are made stronger by more recent trends.
At the heart of NextCity is the One Account pillar, a single place to pay for how you travel, no matter which mode you use. This is an extension of what Cubic has been doing for public transit for decades. For example, look at the Clipper Card in the Bay Area, which integrates 23 regional transit operators through a common payment system. For the rider, this means a seamless experience and potentially integrated pricing, no matter which operator is providing the journey. For the agencies, they are sharing infrastructure, saving money, promoting multi-operator journeys, and delivering a better experience for their customers. Through the One Account concept, we simply integrate non-transit services such as rideshare, bike/scooter share, taxis, parking, and tolling, so we can deliver the same benefits to travelers and service providers alike.
Not wanting to stop at just integrating the multi-modal payment experience, we asked ourselves, “With that set of customer relationships, how could we solve some other problems and make lives and cities better?” The answer was two further, data-driven pillars. One pillar, the Integrated Customer Experience, is directed towards the traveler—to use the enriched understanding of the habits and preferences of each individual to deliver highly relevant, predictive, and personalized information and journey plans that help individuals make the optimal choices for their journeys. The final pillar, Operations and Analytics, is directed to cities and regions—to use the enriched understanding at the individual level in an aggregated way to optimize the overall flow of people, traffic, and goods through regions and cities.
Each of the pillars in their own right provides exciting benefits to both travelers and cities. Further magic happens when the pillars are working in concert. Where sub-optimal travel behavior is detected in the Operations and Analytics pillar, the demand causing the situation is segmented to particular traveler groups through One Account, and then predictive alternate journey choices are pushed to those specific travelers to be influenced, perhaps with price incentives, through an Integrated Customer Experience. The response, or non-response, to those options are fed back to the Operations and Analytics pillar for constant optimization from the perspective of right now and for planning operations into the future.
In 2018, Cubic was awarded the Intelligent Congestion Management Program in Sydney, Australia. The new system will enhance monitoring and management of the road network, coordinate the public transport network across all modes, improve management of clearways, assist in the planning of major events, and improve incident clearance times while providing real-time information and advice to the public about disruptions. The project will transform the Transport Management Centre into a true multi-modal operation across the entire transport network to address congestion, improve safety, and increase public transport usage with the ultimate goal to: “Predict 30 Minutes into the Future, Act in 5.”
The year transitioned from 2018 into 2019 with us acquiring Trafficware and then GRIDSMART. The combination of our existing capabilities, with these intersection management capabilities, means we will have the capability to optimize intersections on arterial roads, urban corridors, and grids. We can do so not only through detecting traffic at the intersection but also based on a broader view of traffic patterns across the entire region. This means we will be able to predict volumes of inbound traffic from highways and freeways entering urban areas. In addition, we will be able to further optimize intersections by giving priority to shared transportation based on the number of passengers aboard a vehicle. These are the fundamental capabilities necessary to make the Operations and Analytics pillar a reality.
This immense progress has been matched by strong order intake for our ‘One Account’ solution and our mobile solution, which we see as the enabling platform for the ‘Integrated Customer Experience.’ I’m excited for 2019, where we will start to see NextCity truly become real.
Cubic’s legacy has traditionally been in larger cities, but of course, all cities have common challenges of congestion and optimizing travel. I’m delighted with how GRIDSMART and Trafficware addressed the scalability of their solutions so that cities of all sizes can benefit and learn from them and the broader Cubic plans as we work on NextCity 2.0—a scalable, platform-centric, version of the vision.