Introduction to smart mobility – interview with Liz DavidsonREPLICATE
The REPLICATE project has three themes; smart homes, smart streets and citizen sensing. As part of the Smart Streets, we are exploring new ways of getting around Bristol and in particular the areas of Ashley, Easton and Lawrence Hill. There will be an electric bike scheme for local organisations, electric car club vehicles, and an electric taxi-bus. Some of these transport options will be brought together in an app to offer more travel options to get around Bristol and make it easier for drivers to find a local parking space.
In this interview, we are going to focus on The Buzz – the electric taxi-bus, developed by the local small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) organisation Esoterix whose vision is based around the following quote: “Mobility is not a car or a train, but really a primitive feeling — a value — of knowing you can move where and when you want. The ability to move is as basic as the difference between being a plant and being an animal. It’s these basic feelings — like love — that really motivate people,” Katherine Freund, founder of Independent Transportation Network.
Liz Davidson is the Chief Marketing Officer for Esoterix and grew up in Bristol. Although now working in a transport focused organisation, her past experiences are quite varied and include engineering, furniture retail, freelancing and working for a non-profit organisation. She finds the parallels between them are fascinating!
What does Esoterix do as a company and how does it contribute to The REPLICATE project?
Esoterix is a technology company. We’ve been working on developing ‘intelligent mobility’ services and systems for five years. By ‘intelligent mobility’ we mean connecting the information within the transport system (and other systems) to provide better transport for passengers.
What advantage does the Buzz taxi-bus have over other forms of public transport?
We don’t see our services as an either/or to other public transport. We look to extend existing transport networks, not compete against them. Because we integrate intentionally with other services we can help our passengers make efficient, connected door-to-door journeys – wherever they are going.
How can people get involved and use it and when might it be available for citizens?
We’re launching services in the project area in April 2018 and we’re looking for some people in the area of Ashley, Easton and Lawrence Hill to get involved with testing out the service. Anyone who is interested in finding out more can sign up for updates at www.esoterix.co.uk.
What is the biggest challenge for the project and for you as a partner?
The biggest challenge is providing transport options that meet people’s needs at a price that people are willing to pay. A challenge within the project has been finding a suitable electric vehicle – we’re getting there now, though!
What is your vision for the future of city transport?
This is a hot topic. Information technology is challenging lots of ideas about transport provision at the moment. The main trend is towards people subscribing to transport services, similar to a phone contract, and having access to the journeys they need as part of that contract. The other major innovation will be around connected and autonomous vehicles (or driverless cars). The only thing that is really certain is that nobody is really sure how it will pan-out.