The ultimate determinant for the availability of fully integrated multimodal, end-to-end mobility services to European citizens is for the extra costs incurred by Mobility Service Providers (MSP) in providing these integrated services to be compensated by the extra revenue that can be generated by providing them. Multi-modality, on the other hand, implies the interaction of MSPs that operate in a mixture of subsidized and competitive markets subject to different regulatory provisions which combine to limit, for the benefit of citizens, the control that MSPs have on the prices they can charge for the services they offer.
As a consequence, the realisation of a self-sustainable economy of cost-effective European-wide integrated multimodal end-to-end mobility services depends on significant transformation of the demand and supply conditions:
- On the demand side, extra revenue opportunities for MSPs can be generated by bringing to market new services that leverage network effects, whereby the value of – and therefore the demand for – these services is increased by their being integrated by customers with other complementary travel and transportation products to satisfy their specific needs.
The IF design and demonstrator implementations developed within the IT2Rail and ST4RT projects have been created to address this fundamental requirement “on the supply side”. However, these results have been achieved on the reduced scale and scope of projects limited both in time and budget.
- On the supply side, new advanced ICT systems must provide the technology necessary to bring to market these new services at a fraction of the cost compared with the state-of-the-art, particularly the cost of interoperability across networked heterogeneous systems and devices.
The SPRINT project will build on previous outcomes in three complementary directions that combine to unleash the innovation potential of MSPs in bringing cost-effectively new value-added mobility services to market:
- Further cost reduction of interoperability with respect to what has already been achieved in the previous IT2Rail and ST4RT projects. With respect to results delivered by these projects, we envisage significant opportunities for improvement in the following areas:
- Improved effectiveness in the management of the main ontological assets of the IF, by means of appropriate collaborative ontology engineering methods and appropriate new tooling increasingly being made available in open source domain by specialized development groups.
- Improved automation of semantic service integration, by reducing the required manual effort, particularly in the “annotation” process whereby the semantics specified in the ontology is associated with heterogeneous data (syntactic) representations of common domain entities and properties. SPRINT will leverage new W3C specifications for semantic web technologies and corresponding tooling being developed in the open source domain and/or commercial vendors.
- Added ability to perform efficient distributed semantic query processing and semantic “linking” of data distributed across the world wide web, thus reducing the need for data and service replication. Also, new “linked data” stores, some storing travel and transportation relevant data, have become available over the past two years: these also will be leveraged to extend the scope of the “web of transport data” abstraction provided by the IF for customer Experience application developers.
- Addressing the specific requirements stemming from the CONNECTIVE, ATTRACkTIVE, Co-Active and My-TRAC Shift2Rail projects connected with the present open call, as well as from the establishment of NAPs for the distribution of multimodal transport data according to the NeTEx specification. These projects or initiatives prompt additional innovation challenges that will be tackled by the SPRINT project:
- Increased interoperability reach: The abovementioned IP4 projects extend the scope of functionalities, services and data structures that must be interoperable across heterogeneous ICT systems and they tackle more complex use cases than those covered by the initial IT2Rail and ST4RT projects. Therefore, they provide specific detailed requirements for the development of the capabilities and tooling described in point 1) above.
- Extension of architectural options: A suitable level of flexibility is needed with respect to the ability to choose among different, functionally equivalent organisations of components, their deployment and interactions. This will allow IF developers to tailor their architectures to meet specific non-functional requirements such as security, performance, scalability, maintainability, etc. that may be required given the particular constraints of their given environment. This is particularly relevant for interactions with NAPs, which determine a mandated mechanism for the publication and delivery of specific data sets. The provision of a range of functionally equivalent architectural choices associated with different non-functional features and metrics is also essential to the objective of fostering the development of a competitive and innovative European market of independent IF technology and service providers from which MSPs can source solutions, also contributing to the reduction of the costs incurred in providing new mobility services. To this end the SPRINT project will pursue architectural solutions based on the ISO/IEC 10746 standards for Open Distributed Processing, which, as an international standard, is understood and practiced by major Vendors of ICT technology for distributed processing.
To ensure an actual innovation impact on the business side, the SPRINT project will not only break new ground in terms of specifications and technologies, but it will also properly assess the maturity of the IF solutions for inclusion in production systems, thus quantitatively and qualitatively apprising the expected impacts.
- Leveraging the outcomes of the GoF4R project, i.e. the design of management procedures for the governance of IF elements. These outcomes also generate non-functional requirements on the architectural options available for the implementation of ICT tools available for the enforcement of governance procedures.