R&I Manager Ricardo Vitorino tells us about Ubiwhere’s aspirations for Data Pitch and beyond.
Describe your Data Pitch challenge idea
Ubiwhere’s Data Pitch challenge idea consists of understanding how external factors (such as the weather, location of points of interest or the time of the year) affect the way people move, by analysing anonymised historical booking data (from public transportation and vehicle sharing systems) and correlating it with these external conditions.
Our hypothesis is that by making mobility operators and decision-makers more aware of the current status of their operations (such as understanding whether they should reinforce a specific bus line at a given time of the day) we will surface costs, inefficiencies and pain points in their mobility management solutions that they are not able to detect or resolve efficiently. If this is true, we will be able to attribute potential returns to our system, incentivising early adoption. The Mobility-Backend-as-a-Service (MBaaS) web platform, already capable of collecting, processing and allowing open access to real-time and historical datasets related to urban mobility, as well as intelligent services, will allow Ubiwhere to extend its customer list with a new city service provider, bridging the gap with public transportation operators.
What does the idea set out to achieve?
Our objective is to engage Deutsche Bahn to identify pain points in mobility management, spot hidden costs and inefficiencies and increase our solution’s fitness and market readiness. With the ultimate purpose of bringing this intelligence to mobility service providers and other urban planners, we will enrich our mobility platform with a new business intelligence module. Success can be evaluated in different terms, from a technological standpoint to a business one.
In terms of technology, we would like to achieve the following: the integration of a business intelligence solution for the application, optimisation and validation of algorithms for mobility use cases; the successful integration and validation of the relevant datasets provided by Deutsche Bahn for the current challenge, through a new web dashboard showcasing analytics and other reports.
In terms of business, our objective is to engage Deutsche Bahn and use what we learn from them to improve our pitch when interviewing prospective customers, as well as to understand where our system’s unique value proposition lies. We believe our core solution can remain generic enough to adapt to other mobility providers, regardless of their operation’s dimension.
What makes your idea different or unique?
We have been working on mobility in Smart Cities since 2014, developing multiple algorithms to optimise parking occupancy, logistics and multimodal routing, as well as understanding patterns and retrieving mobility metrics, all in our Mobility Backend-as-a-Service web platform. This solution includes open, interconnecting Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for real-time data and services so that web and mobile applications can showcase these innovative features in well-crafted, responsive layouts. On top of the platform, a web dashboard will be provided to demonstrate the information visually through usage and recommendation reports. Furthermore, our system stands out from our competitors by crossing information from different systems and domains.
Where did the idea come from?
At Ubiwhere, we have been working at the integrator level between service providers and the decision-makers, by striving to provide ways to improve operational efficiency and give service providers the interoperability that will be a requirement for the overall vision of a smart city. Therefore, while acting as an integrator, Ubiwhere collects and manages the data from sensing devices, extracting intelligence from them and bringing user-centred services to its customers. The idea came from our daily activity with our clients: cities aiming to be better and smarter by using our solutions. The Data Pitch challenge would give us the opportunity to reach a wider market with our open and fully interoperable platform by including more and better services to face the mobility challenges in cities.
What excites you about the challenge you applied for?
The large amount of diverse data available for the current challenge provides the best opportunity to implement and expand our solutions on a larger scale than we have ever done before with previous clients and R&D projects. Our ultimate goal and motivation is to be capable of empowering the operational staff of Deutsche Bahn with relevant inputs for both their daily operations and broader management. We are very excited at the possibility of working with DB, a key stakeholder in the mobility sector, as well as with various real-life datasets, all of which can broaden our horizon of possible solutions. Aside from exploiting a new market, such a large amount of available data will help us to refine our current solutions and algorithms, in order to include new and improved features for customers that might face similar challenges, regardless of their domain.
How did your team meet?
The company was founded in 2007 by CEO Rui Costa, COO Nuno Ribeiro and another former partner, with the purpose of researching innovative solutions for Telecommunications. The Smart Cities work started in early 2014, with the successful launch of an intelligent bike-sharing system called Bikeemotion. Later that year, Francisco Monsanto joined the team to expand the company’s Smart Cities portfolio.
In 2015, I started working at Ubiwhere as a Project Manager for the Smart Cities products for mobility and environment, along with André Duarte and João Garcia, two software developers who are passionate about data science and business intelligence. After finishing his MSc, featuring a project for civic engagement in the public transportation sector, Francisco Cardoso joined the team and has been the driving force of Ubiwhere’s mobility challenges. Together, they are striving to generate unique insights that can help improve our world, as well as trying to make the company a provider and integrator in the Smart Cities domain.
What’s the best thing about working with data?
Data is one of the most exciting and interesting fields around. Seeing as working with large amounts of data is a relatively new thing, and considering that new algorithms and technologies are being developed everyday, we are capable of facing bigger challenges. It also allows us to make more informed decisions, providing objective answers to our questions. Ultimately, data provides us with better ways to answer questions that we may have regarding our industry, business and product. The vast world of data brings with it the motivation to deliver state-of-the art solutions to improve people’s lives.
Anything else you want to tell us about your startup and why you do what you do?
With more than €1m turnover since 2013, Ubiwhere has been growing steadily, and now has 40 employees in three offices in Portugal. In late 2016, the PROEF Group (made up of more than 25 companies and currently present in 11 countries) invested in Ubiwhere, bringing the SME into the group as the Innovation Unit.
Regarding the mobility sector, Ubiwhere has been working on a platform focused on urban mobility, called the Mobility Backend-as-a-Service (MBaaS). The MBaaS is capable of collecting data from different sources, using multiple communication protocols to provide the city and the service providers with enriched analytical and efficient planning services. This platform was designed to be open so that city service providers could directly integrate the provided features into their daily activities so that they could improve their operational efficiency based on the platform’s services and collected data.