In this episode of the Smart Community podcast, I have a great chat with Stephen Coulter from Localift. Stephen tells us about his background in financial services, banking and later startups, and how the two have now combined in his interest in the Smart Mobility space. We talk about Smart Cities being made up of a series of hyper-local communities, and why it’s not just technology but also psychology that we need to be looking at when preparing for and encouraging the changes that are coming, whether they happen cooperatively or disruptively. Stephen then shares with us some of the projects he’s currently working on, including Local Lift, and why trust and seamless payment processes are so important in the Smart Mobility space. We discuss the concept of shared mobility and why it’s an emerging trend not being talked about enough, despite the fact that it’s an important part of the 21st Century solution to the 20th Century problem of congestion. As always, I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it.
What we cover in this episode:
- Stephen’s background in financial services, banking and startups and his journey into the Smart mobility space
- How Stephen defines Smart Cities and why it takes a community (not just a single entity) to drive change
- The ways Smart City conversations can bring people together
- The importance of technology and psychology in driving behaviour change
- Where Stephen thinks Australia is at when it comes to Smart mobility
- The problem with 20th Century solutions to 21st Century challenges
- Projects Stephen is currently working on and how Localift came to be
- Why we should be looking at trust and not just identity
- The need for seamless payments across systems, locations and modes of transport
- How to better integrate across governments, disciplines and industries
- The emerging trend of shared mobility
I’ve always been driven by the customer focus and looking at the future to see what innovations we can bring customers.
Smart Cities [are] these hyper local communities that share something important to them in common, that overlap, that collectively make up cities. If a city is going to be a Smart City and bring the changes we’re all hearing about, you have to engage not only at the government levels but at those multiple community levels, and also with businesses that are connected to these communities that bring all these things together and have the ability to actually generate change. I don’t think any one party in that equation can actually drive the change without the support of the others.
It provides a really strong focus for people to come together around the issues that are driving some of the problems in cities, and also to bring them together around the changes required, and gives you a platform to get that collaboration happening between the many parties that are involved.
What are the barriers to shared mobility and people doing multimodal mobility?
Car pooling is only part of the solution, [there’s] lots of new solutions emerging around the world, but again a lot are focused on solo travel. [Localift] focus on how to manage trust so people are more comfortable moving together, and how to manage payments, so that’s seamless across all modes of transport.
Most of the applications and services that talk about trust actually only talk about identity, and verifying identity. It’s a good first step but it doesn’t prove you’re trustworthy, it just proves you are who you say you are… How do you go beyond that and find ways to identify trust marks that indicate somebody is trust worthy to the point where you’d be happy to share mobility with them even if you haven’t met them directly before?
The other really important thing to drive new forms of mobility is for payment options to be seamless and interoperable. Make it easy for people from door to door…How payments can be integrated and aggregated to get from A to B for entire journey?
Those sort of things play to the psychology part of behaviour change. There needs to be incentives, pricing levers that can be pulled, cross subsidies that make it simple for people to do these things.
When you look at most of the mobility trends that are happening, they’re still about the technology and getting these autonomous vehicles out there, or getting bikes or scooters or how we’re going to do ride hailing. The problems around the world in congestion are very common from city to city, and the solution is on the road already in many cases. Literally millions of driver only vehicles are on the road in cities every day with 80% of their seats empty; if we can get people starting to share their mobility with the cars that are already on the road and the people that are happy to drive them we can get significant change very quickly without infrastructure spend.
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The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.