Unlocking data for smarter public transportation
Telia and Accenture leverage crowd movement data from the mobile network to open new sources of revenue and impact sustainable decision making.
When municipalities design their public transportation operations, they use statistical data based on travel surveys. But there are limitations in this approach. Commuters don’t always have the opportunity to answer important questions such as “What routes do you most often travel?” and “What do you do before and after using public transport?”. Another challenge with surveys is that it requires manual data collection which can take months to compile, and low response rates can lead to unreliable results.
Yet so much valuable information is literally at hand, in the mobile devices of commuters. Telia has developed a strategy to leverage this treasure trove of data to create entirely new revenue streams. By capturing movement data from Telia’s mobile network, anonymising and aggregating this data into actionable insights, and giving public transportation providers new possibilities in all aspects of public transportation – from planning to evaluation of routes and marketing activities.
In 2016, Accenture collaborated with Telia’s Division X to kick off their innovative Crowd Insights project. One of the first orders of business was not only to establish the data model and data pipeline, but also to ensure that all data input was made both anonymous and aggregated to protect the privacy of customers – with ‘privacy first’ continuing to be the underlying principle of the project.
By early 2017, once product prototypes were developed, the team was ready for a pilot project. The test case came in the form of a large bus transport group in the Nordic region, with the pilot project using mobile network data to analyze their customers’ travel patterns.
Mobile data was collected from an area south of Stockholm where the bus transport group operates. The data revealed several areas of improvement:
Commuters were spending too much time on one route because there were too many stops: The transport group added a new bus to ease the load.
Morning commutes declined by 16 percent on Fridays, and people tended to go home earlier on Friday afternoons. The transport group adjusted the number and frequency of buses on these days to optimize use.
Analyzing modes of transportation into Stockholm also helped identify which modes of transportation (public and private) were taken to get to bus routes.
Today, the crowd insights business has expanded beyond buses to other modes of travel as well as to other areas of use. In Finland, HSL, the Helsinki regional transportation authority, used Telia crowd insights to measure the effects of the build out of a subway line between the suburban city of Espoo and Helsinki. To get commuters to the new stations connecting buslines feeding these stations were essential. HSL wanted a clear view of exactly how the travelers used the existing connecting bus services. Using crowd insights, HSL got a reliable basis for decision-making in order to re-plan the connections. And immediately after the new services began to operate, HSL was able to see how the travelers´ moving patterns changed.
Furthermore, it also made it possible to measure the environmental impact from the new subway extension. The data showed that subway use had reduced car traffic between Espoo and Helsinki by 8 percent, which equates to 13 tonnes of CO2 per day.
With Telia’s sustainability goals pledging to reduce its environmental footprint to zero by 2030 and applying new innovative technologies to minimize their customers’ environmental impact, this innovative program is one example of how Telia has leveraged data analytics to do just that. The end result – a win for society and the environment, and the experience of both urban dwellers and visitors alike.
The approaches behind our work are being standardized and automated to help scale new efforts rapidly.
"New technical solutions combined with data can streamline public transport in new and innovative ways. It makes it easier for commuters in their everyday life, and better for the environment when we right size our routes."