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Blockchain and Beyond: Encoding 21st Century Transport

Much of the discussion regarding data has assumed technology and services will rapidly change in the transport sector while data science will essentially remain the same. This is not the case. This project will discuss two areas where changes in data science and the data ecosystem surrounding transport show tremendous potential to improve efficiencies, provide better value and help ensure achievement of public policy objectives, especially in an era of on-demand mobility as a service.

Blockchain technology combines advances in data science, cryptography, and novel governance principles – and has been highlighted as one of the most disruptive technologies since the advent of the internet. Specifically, it enables frictionless transactions regarding payment and access to distributed services, data and rights without the need for a third party to establish trust between transacting parties. It opens up new possibilities to seamlessly manage distributed and fractional capacity (both for vehicles and infrastructure) and offers the possibility for customised, dynamic and sized-for-purpose transport to individuals. It also allows operators to manage access rights, data and payments across a broad network of unrelated and competing service providers and platforms.

Encoding (open) mobility will be a necessary component of blockchain-enabled transport services and can already deliver benefits in terms of broader access to information regarding existing services. Much progress has been made to create an open data standard for public transport (Global transit feed specification – GTFS) and bike share (Global bikeshare feed specification – GBFS) and some innovative mobility operators provide access via application programming interfaces to some of their data for integration into other services. These data syntax standards are the building blocks for the data-web powering mobility as a service and will be essential in building blockchain-based mobility concepts.  However, uptake of these standards is not uniform and new mobility service configurations that do not conform to existing data syntax are coming online with increasing frequency.

This project will identify transport-related use cases of blockchain technology and chart out what the data syntax standard for the internet of mobility might look like, to deliver guidance to public authorities on how to prepare for and lead, changes in this area.