S1E24: Shared Mobility Architecture

Oct 8, 2021

Andy Keeton

VP Global Strategy

Between the Lines S1E124: Shared Mobility Architecture

with Sandra Phillips


Why will Shared Mobility Architecture help save the planet?

On this week's episode of Between the Lines, we chat with Sandra Phillips, a Shared Mobility Architect and Founder/CEO of movmi, an award-winning women-owned boutique agency specialized in shared mobility architecture.

For the past 12 years, Sandra has turned new mobility visions into reality and has been involved in over 60 shared mobility ventures and programs worldwide. Before founding movmi, Sandra held several senior management and executive roles, most notably with Daimler, BCAA, and BMW. She is a TED talk speaker emeritus and a board member and guest lecturer with the Smart Mobility Program of the University of St. Gallen. She won the 2021 Change Maker Award by BCBusiness and is a Clean50 Honoree. 

And check out Sandra's favorite commuting song on our exclusive commuter playlists on Spotify!

  • Thunder, Imagine Dragons


Episode Transcript

-(Andy Keeton) Hi, everyone and welcome aboard the Between the Lines podcast. Today I'm joined by Sandra Phillips, who is the Shared Mobility Architect founder and CEO of Move me, an award-winning, woman-owned boutique agency specialized in shared mobility architecture. We're going to get into what that means. And for the past 12 years, Sandra has turned new mobility visions into reality, and has been involved in over 60 share mobility ventures and programs worldwide. Before founding Move me, Sandra held several senior management and executive roles. Most notably with Daimler, BCAA and BMW. She's got a lot of experience in the space. She's a TED talk speaker emeritus, so a great speaker as well which is why we'd love to have you on a board member. And guest lecturer with the Smart Mobility Program of the University of Saint Gallin. And she won the 2021 Change Maker award by BC business and is a current 50 honoree. Sandra, thanks for being on today. Thanks for coming on this call all the way from, you know, your folks home, I guess in switzerland. Is that where you are?

-(Sandra Phillips) That's right. Thank you, Andy for having me. Yes I am. It's afternoon here. So I'm really awake. Yeah, I'm in Switzerland at the moment. My hometown where I went to high school. It feels really bizarre right now.

-(Andy Keeton) That's so fun. I love this podcast or talk to people all over. I didn't, I was expecting to talk to someone from BC today, and which is still cool. But now we get to talk to you from Switzerland which is even cooler. I'll say very exciting. So today we're going to talk about, I mentioned it earlier. What we're going to talk about, the idea of shared mobility architecture. This is something that movement talks about quite a bit. We're going to talk about why shared mobility architecture will help save the planet. And when we were talking earlier you gave me a phrase that you said, shared mobility is the antidote to personal vehicle ownership. I thought that was really cool. So can you tell me what does that mean, and how is shared mobility the antidote to personal ownership?

-(Sandra Phillips) Sure I can. And I can, again, listen about that. But let me just first get one thing out of the way. Because there's a lot of definitions for share mobility and some people just think it's car sharing which it is not. We use the SAE the Standard American Engineering body definition which came out I think sometime last year, spring last year. And it defines it as the access when and if you need it as a user to any type of vehicle. And that's really important. So it can be a bike, it can be a car, it can even be a box. The main difference is you get it when you need it and only then. And not you constantly have it. So that's, I mean, part of the reason I say it's the antidote to vehicle ownership. It's because you don't own it. You only access it, right? Now, you kind of said okay, what's the benefit to the planet, or why this is, actually, does it actually work? And I have now been in the space for a while. So I have enough data to say yes, it does. And I think that the first thing is really, like, we gotta start thinking of using our resources more efficiently. Yes, we can fight over you know is a bike better than a car. And I don't disagree that it is, because you also do something physically. But at the end of the day sharing, sharing any vehicle is better than owning your own personal car. Because it uses a lot, we use a lot of resources to build cars. A two and a half ton metal box that sits around five percent of the, sorry, ninety five percent of the time. We use it five percent of the time. And in the share context. So just car sharing alone. If you're car sharing, you use on average, you use a vehicle 36 percent of the time which is still not great. But it's a magnitude better than, you know, five or five percent of the time, right? But it's also like there's, especially on the car sharing side, there's been lots of studies. How many vehicles they've removed from the road? And so now I'm gonna go to Vancouver which is where I'm normally based. Because Vancouver has a very vibrant car sharing ecosystem. And so there it's about 25 of the members in the programs don't got rid of a car. So that's okay. But forty percent on top of that did not buy a car. So they would have bought a car if they didn't have access. So now I'm just going to put that in perspective. So Vancouver has about just over 200 000 car share members. That's 130 000 cars that are not on the road, right? So that's a lot of space and resources you saved. Now I said any vehicle can be a shared mobility vehicle as long as it's on demand and share. You know, amongst a group of people shared. So if you look at micro mobility, they measure a lot, you know, how many car trips they replace and NAPSA just published the numbers for 2020. And they claim that 36% of all micro mobility trips replace the car trip which is also, that's why it saves the planet. I think it gets rid of us driving for little things which a lot of people do, right? If your metal box sticks outside you may as well use it. Because you don't use it a lot anyway. So you drive and get, you know, whatever, your Häagen-Dazs ice cream across town if you need to. I think that's what it really does. It just gets us out of this habit and into more sustainable modes. And then I will add one other thing which we've noticed last year during the pandemic. It also adds resilience to our public transportation system. So because public transportation people started which is actually very,for us, it moved me very surprising. We survey users all the time. And health concerns, sanitary concerns, there's always a small portion of the population that has that. But it was always very small, like it didn't factor into the top 10 reasons. Last year it was a number one reason. And it's still, I think it will stay. Maybe not number one, but in top, I would say five it will stay there for a while. So people move out of public transit, right? That's a lot of, you share a lot of space very closely. But the cities that had a vibrant ecosystem of alternatives, they were able to shift people out over. So if you had a lot of micro mobility options, I think, again the NAPSA study basically showed that bike share fleets took 55 percent of those trips. That would have been transit, right? So what I'm trying to say is, like I have a really big thing about it's not one mode is better than the other. No, no, no, no. If we build an ecosystem that you as a user can rely on, regardless of the health situation, the epidemic situation, your life situation then you really don't need to get that car. So, and I think that's the other benefit. And I don't think we had any data to prove that point until last year.

-(Andy Keeton) It's interesting. And I, there's a great car share and bike share system here in Montreal as well. And I don't own a car. I moved here and my fiance and I would actually buy a car. And I was like oh, no. Let's try to use this car share thing, use the bike share thing. See if this works. And it does. And it's great. Now we don't drive as much as we would have because we don't have a, you know, big metal box we're paying insurance on, and car payments or whatever else sitting outside. We feel like we need to use it. Instead we just need it when we want to. We walk places. We bike places. It's great. So it makes a lot of sense. And it does. I love the idea as well. The safety component, the resilience component can shift people to the right shared mobility for the right, you know, time. That's great. So another thing that you talked about is, that you kind of said earlier before we got on, was this idea of how share mobility provides physical mobility to provide social mobility. Can you tell me a little bit more about what that phrase means as well?

-(Sandra Phillips) So transportation, I think that's part of why this space has fascinated me for the last 12 years. If you think about transportation really ultimately what you want to give people is the freedom to go to wherever they need. Whether that's they have to go to workplace to school, they want to see their friends, they have to go to the hospital or to a doctor. Essentially to give them access to opportunities and services in wherever they live. And the car used to be that thing, right? It gave you the freedom to do all of that. In fact, it was sold as giving you the freedom. And, you know, I remember in the 60s everybody went on the freedom trip across, you know, North America. It was a big thing even in Switzerland that people dreamt of doing highway 99 because that's the epitome of freedom with a car. And shared mobility, when it becomes that ecosystem, it gives the same amount of freedom. That's what, I should also say, that's probably the ultimate goal of movements like shared mobility architecture idea. Is that it will provide um the same type of freedom. Now, does it do that in the early stages? Probably not like you build upon. It has to grow. It's not a, like I'm throwing in a bunch of bike share bikes and now everybody can get around and get everywhere. No, also we gotta keep in mind that, you know, different people can do different things and feel comfortable doing different things. So I think there's, it's not, again, not just one solution fits all. But that's ultimately the idea. So if you can provide that physical mobility, so I can get to my school and I am safe in whatever mode I'm choosing, then I have the ability to move socially, right? In the society or in the culture I live in.

-(Andy Keeton) I think that makes sense. And that's something we've touched on as well in a previous episode with Katie Justice. We were talking about TM for refugee communities and how, you know, we don't have the ability, or the refugee communities don't have the ability to get to the, you know, the places they need to be. The workplaces, the social obligations. It's harder for them to do that. So providing shared mobility seems like a great option for, you know, these communities and really for everyone. We mentioned the idea of shared mobility architecture. I want to dive more deeply into that. Can you first just tell me what is shared mobility architecture? I think this is something that you all, Move me kind of coined this term. I love this idea. Can you tell me a little bit more about it?

-(Sandra Phillips) So it's ultimately, it's a structure methodology of how we go about any designing, any new shared mobility service or helping launch. because that's ultimately what we do. We help launch these new services. And so we built the methodology and it focuses on three areas. It focuses on the user, infrastructure and regulation. And it always starts with the user or with the human, with the person in mind first. That's our starting point. And now you realize I didn't use the word technology a bit. Now, I'm not saying we don't need technology. But in, similar to an architect, when an architect designs a house he thinks about what do people do in this house. Do they live in there? Do they work in there? Do they go like, do they eat in there? Because of the restaurant. And then he figures out okay, what's the regulatory framework? And what ground am I building this on? They're not gonna think okay, I'm gonna build this house in stakes, first. Like that's not the first approach. So, for us, technologies, like you pick and choose depending on what you're trying to achieve for the users or the, you know, the community we're working in, and what's the infrastructure that's available. And now you're probably like, what infrastructure is she talking about? Like if you think micro mobility. So you have cities in Europe that have like, Paris has great bike lanes. It's like Anne Hidalgo has done a fantastic job in basically converting that city. And it was great before he. Like I remember a couple years ago I spent six weeks in Paris. And it was fabulous getting around on bike. So that's even better. And then you have cities, let's just pick something in North America like Kelowna which is actually not terrible. But it's not great, right? So people don't feel safe. So you have to figure out, what's the infrastructure that's even available? And does it make sense? And where does it make sense in that community to now launch this service for starters? You can always grow it and at the same time grow the infrastructure. And then the last piece is the regulatory framework. I am a firm believer, and I should probably say that's also something that I could train by being with Daimler first, in my first accountability job. You work with the authorities and not just pretend like you're a tech, or not pretend, not just say you're a technology company, which basically removes all the physical limitations of the world from you. And now you can do whatever you want. Like if you look at the classification of a lot of transportation innovation companies that maybe aren't so well received by cities. I'm not going to name names right now. People who listen to the podcast will know. They all classified themselves as technology companies. Because that gave them a void to operate in, and I always say that's great. But it's not a cloud service. It's a physical service moving around in a city. So even if you pretend there is no regulation that applies to you, you're still moving around in a space. And you still have to deal with infrastructure limitations. So that's why we said we coined the term shared mobility architecture. Because it helps us get away from like hey, I heard about this shiny new technology bullet that's going to solve all this transportation problem, to like okay, what does the community actually need? What's the user demographic that you're trying to tackle? And then, what are our limitations? Because limitations, to be honest I actually like working with end limitation. It makes for a much more creative process because you've got to figure out how to make it work within that, rather than just working in a void. It's really hard to come up with something that's successful in the long term if you have absolutely no limitation and balance.

-(Andy Keeton) Right. I think that's good. So we start with, we have user, infrastructure and regulation. The three key things. We fit the technology or whatever the solution is into that framework. I think that makes a lot of sense. So how does this approach then help with actually, you know, influencing behavior? Actually getting people to use shared mobility more than their personal vehicle.

-(Sandra Phillips) I'm going to give you two examples where we focused on two specific user groups.And I'm picking those because they were user groups that weren't, I'm not saying that they weren't, you know, served before. But they weren't generally the focus of people creating shareable service. And the first one is for a project called the Shared Mobility Compass Card which we worked on together with Translink in Vancouver. The two car shares, Evolved model and Moby bike share. It came out of the open innovation call from from Translink. The three providers put in a bid right and then it was like okay, how do we do a pilot project? And one of the thing is like, which user demographic are we gonna serve? Are we gonna do a pilot B2 B2C like a consumer-facing pilot? And we're trying to solve everybody's transportation problems in a pilot? Or are we going to narrow it down and figure out a user group that we really can design the service around? And we went for the second one. We focused on work related travel. So there's a lot of people who bring their cars. They don't necessarily need to commute or want to commute with their car to work. But they bring it because they have this one meeting during the day where they need to bring a bunch of, you know, marketing material. And they don't want to do that on the bus. Or they would love to bike. But they don't want to bring their bike because that's too long, you know, from where they live. So what I said is like okay, if we can get them to leave their cars at home, and provide the mobility options in the city when they're at work through the Share Mobility Compass Card which essentially tied the three shared mobility providers. So Moby, the bike share, the two car shares into the existing Compass Card. Can we then shift their behavior? And will they leave the car at home. And it's a pilot with public transit. So obviously we measured before and after quite well. Because we also needed to get funding for the next phase of this program. This wasn't just supposed to be a standalone pilot. This was supposed to be the proof of concept for a much larger program. And it did. 60 percent of the participants said they left the car at home and they used these alternative services. And the other really interesting thing for me, anyway, was that 30 percent of them said they tried a new form. And that could have been anything. That could have been, you know, they tried bike share for the first time. That's not so surprising to me. A lot of people have never tried it. But I also tried public transit 30 seconds for the first time. So, and I think that's the other power. Because if you never try it because you're default. We all have our default modes when it comes to transportation. It's such a like, you don't even think about. You just do what you always do. If you never try it you never know if it works for you. And so, I think that's one where we really were able to show that we shift the behavior. And then the other one I'm going to pick is in a very, in a location that, when I'm telling you, you're probably like what the hell. So I was in very early on it, Move me. We were hired to help launch the first car share in Dubai. And people were like, you're crazy. Nobody's gonna use car share in Dubai. But I had a little bit of insight from the team that was behind it. And they explained to me that the population in Dubai is very segregated. So you have at the top the Emirates which all have the fancy cars, you know, the Maseratis and whatever else. Then you have a second kind of level which is the white management that gets a company card. And then below is all the workers that come from all over the world. Like they have workers from everywhere. From Philippines, from India, from Europe. And they don't get. But what they do get often as part of their work package is housing. Now, that housing is nowhere close to the metro station. And for work they get picked up. Obviously, the employer realizes they need to get to work place. So they get picked up. You know they have all these work shuttles similar to, you know, Seattle has a lot of those as well. But when they want to do something on their own, when they're off, they're basically stuck. So the carter targeted specifically that segment. And it's like gone through the roof. They have expanded to Saudi. They went from like, we had a concept with 25 cars. That's what we helped set up. They now have 500 in the Emirates. As I said, they just expanded to Saudi. And again in Saudi they're targeting women who now can drive but not own a car. And so going back to my point about providing physical mobility for social mobility like in Saudi it's so obvious what you're doing. You're providing somebody who couldn't own a car with access to transportation now. So yeah, those are, I think, the two examples that I picked when you sent me that question.

-(Andy Keeton) I love. Makes a lot of sense. I think that's like a perfect example. If you're thinking of a technology or starting a new program, thinking about the user. There's actually like you said yeah, Dubai doesn't seem like maybe a place that would work for this. But it actually is. There's a perfect use case for it.You just have to think about, you know, those users and what they're actually doing. Makes great sense. And I love this story about going to Saudi as well. And it seems like that's working well, as well, which is awesome. Sandra, this is really interesting. So I think, you know, in the interest of time, we'll get to kind of our final question. But I think a lot of people here are thinking okay, I can see maybe how this applies to me. You know, there's a lot going on. If you're listening, you have that question, I encourage you to just reach out to Sandra and Move me. Because I'm sure they can help. But can you tell us and tell the listeners just in a couple sentences, kind of summarizing all of that, all that you said, and what their key points are. Why will shared mobility architecture help save the planet?

-(Sandra Phillips) So I will say because it first focuses on the user. Like, really trying to understand how something fits in to how people need to move around in a specific community. And there's a lot of cultural differences and, you know, stigmas and ideas around certain modes as well. So really understanding that first and foremost, helps build program that actually, and I will say this. You can build other programs that don't focus on the user. But generally what we've seen is that at some point they get shut down. Because if it doesn't focus on the user, nobody will use it. And you're not going to be financially viable. So I'm saying we focus on the user because that actually promises long-term success which is really also important. Going back to my user, to the user. Because if programs come and go it's not reliable. So guess what people do? They're going back to cars again, to their own cars. Because they're like, this is so fickle. I can't make this work. Right? And I think the second one is that, and that's part of the reason I started with me and left, you know, Daimler. It's because we're not taking sides. It's not like the car is better than the bike in a shared system. Or the public transit is better than a scooter. My point is like, we need all of these options if we want to have any chance. Any chance in a major shift of how people move around in our cities. We need all of them. Because that's the only way that it becomes an ecosystem that you can rely on. Going back to my reliability point. Right? You gotta have an option whatever happens during your day. If it starts raining and you use the bike share, and now you don't want to bike back, well then you have to have an answer, another option. So I think that's the other big thing. Like shared mobility architecture doesn't take sides. It doesn't take sides for one mode or another saying that this one removes more vehicles than the other. I'm like, I don't care if you move three vehicles. That's great, because you just removed three.

-(Andy Keeton) Yeah, makes sense. That's great. Awesome. Sandra, thanks for being on. We have one final question for you. But first, let's just get, you know, like I do every week. Tell everyone to like and follow and give us a rating wherever you're listening to the podcast. If you haven't yet, check out our Google podcast on Youtube as well. You can find all that information and subscribe to our newsletter, which I highly recommend you do, at betweenthelines.io. And then you'll be able to get more information every week from each conversation to dive a little bit more deeply into that. And connect them with our speakers like Sandra. So make sure you do that. So Sandra, our final question for you. We're building this audio, you know, music podcast, sorry, music playlist for Spotify. And we're populating that with other guests' favorite songs and songs that they go to on their commute. What would you like to add?

-(Sandra Phillips) So I say, I'm gonna add Thunder by Imagine Dragons. The main reason is I love the beat of that song. It's just like, you listen to that, and I will say my commuter is actually mostly walking these days. But it just gets you like, it gives you that swing in your step and you have a like, you arrive in a good mood. And feel like you can just conquer the world right now, which I think like, we as transportation professionals, we can use a little bit of that upbeat. It certainly works for me.

-(Andy Keeton) Okay, yeah. Give everyday to tackle these problems. Figure out what users want. Build that. Should we build the architecture based system? I think it makes makes great sense. Sandra, thanks again for being on. And everyone, thanks for listening and watching.

-(Sandra Phillips) Thank you, Andy for having me.

-(Andry Keeton) All right, we'll see you all next week.

Better commuting starts here.

Better commuting starts here.

Better commuting starts here.