In the area of mobility and transport, the availability of information and the access to information is essential, both for the providers and the (potential) users of transport services, vehicles, and infrastructures. This need for information together with the rapid developments in the fields of sensor technologies, and information and communication technologies on the one hand, and the increasing availability of public and personal (real-time) data on the other hand provide the basis for a whole bunch of markets and business opportunities for mobility-related mobile apps and services.
Current app providers are mainly dealing with the following mobility related areas of activity:
- Facilitating trip planning, way finding, and routing: Most mobility-related apps focus on this field. There are numerous apps available dedicated especially to car drivers. There are also many apps specifically focusing on the routing needs of cyclists (e.g., BikeCityGuide, Naviki), pedestrians (e.g., walkit), or public transport users (e.g., offi, qando, moovit) available, and also apps offering multi-modal routing (e.g., moovel) are emerging. Apps that base the routing information on a combination of various different data sources and take into account real-time information and forecast information such as e.g. weather and road conditions, traffic incidents, construction works, traffic restrictions, public transport delays, etc. provide added value to the users. Recent and current projects and initiatives working in this field are for example WISETRIP or i-Tour. A real disruptive technology is coming from UBER, a company only founded in 2009 that sells rides via an app and thus offers a solution that enables ridesharing as a competition to taxis. It was sold for 1.2 billion $ and is now (Sep. 2014) valued at 17 billion $ and has caused huge controversy - but opened a whole new mobility market. WAZE is a community-based traffic and navigation app, where drivers share real-time traffic and road information. Since beginning of March 2015 WAZE is part of Google Mobile Services, and thus can be pre-installed by OEMs on their mobile devices.
- Increasing safety and security: A lot of apps are aiming at increasing safety and security, especially for car drivers. These apps cover a variety of approaches: There are apps providing users with warnings of accident hot spots, hazardous road conditions, or adverse weather conditions (such apps are frequently offered by insurance companies like e.g. AXA), apps helping car drivers with monitoring the condition of their vehicles and keeping track of maintenance issues, there are driving school apps, and there are projects, initiatives and applications (e.g. SafeTRIP,...) focusing on supporting the users in emergency situations.
- Making transport more environmentally friendly: With increasing gas prices, eco-driving apps aiming at fuel savings become more and more popular. In addition, several projects and initiatives (e.g. MODUM,...) are also aiming to minimise the harmful effects of transport on the environment by offering car drivers enhanced eco-routing algorithms that promote also multi-modal mobility.
- Increasing the traveller's comfort: Among the mobility related apps there are also such which are aiming to increase the traveller’s comfort for example by offering information regarding sights along the route, by helping users to find mobility related points of interest (e.g. the next filling station, bicycle parking facility, taxi stand, ...), by facilitating the purchase of public transport or parking tickets, etc.
- Smart Parking: This covers in fact traveller's comfort, reduces environmental impact and assists in way finding: a Smart Parking App guides the user to vacant parking spaces that are monitored through on-street or video devices. This reduces traffic related to searching for parking spaces search traffic, driving time and hassle. It is also a rapidly growing market as it helps cities and companies to better manage parking and get more revenue.
- Addressing the special needs of certain groups of travellers: Several apps are explicitly dedicated to specific groups of travellers, such as People with Reduced Mobility (PRM), commuters, tourists, drivers of electric vehicles, etc.
Huge amounts of data from various sources form the basis for all these mobility-related apps, and the need for easily accessible and reliable data is further rising by the ongoing trend towards increasing personalisation of apps and inclusion of more and more location-based services. More and more authorities all over Europe open their mobility and traffic related data to the public, and also companies such as e.g., bitcarrier, which developed traffic management systems based on wireless networks scanning Bluetooth and WiFi signals emitted by mobile devices, provide APIs to enable third parties to access their collected real-time traffic information and build apps based upon these data.
However, not only road users need mobility-related information and apps, also the providers of transport services, infrastructure and vehicles do have a need for information and data helping them with planning, operation, improvement, and maintenance of their products and services. The widespread use of smartphones with embedded sensors has led to a steep rise of the amount of sensor-based mobility-related data which is even more increasing with the trends towards Connected Vehicles and Intelligent Infrastructures. All these data form interesting sources of information for providers of transport services, infrastructure and vehicles.
Thus there is a growing mobility-related market for service providers offering solutions for collection, provision, handling, interpretation, reasoning, and storage of mobility-related data from various sources. Several recent and ongoing projects and initiatives (e.g. CITADEL, mobility data cloud project at Fraunhofer GeMo, Euro Lab on Big Data Analytics & Social Mining, etc.) are tackling these challenges. Currently the German Federal Road Agency is developing a “Market Place for Mobility Data”, a metadata platform for individual traffic information, which shall be the central, nationwide portal for easy exchange of current traffic data.