Account data sharing principles & entities

Transport & mobility data belongs to the account owner. So why shouldn’t they have quick and convenient access to all their transport account data in the way that they want?

This may seem like a bold claim, especially when so many transport providers are looking to leverage their customer data and monetise their digital platforms. But the travelling customer really should be in control of their mobility account and be able to effortlessly grant, modify and revoke access whenever they want.

Our Open Transport standard for account data sharing therefore specifies 3 different “customer-account” data entities.

Note: None of the data entities we are proposing in our “customer-account” specification are personally identifiable information (PII).

These are:

Purchase
This can be a Ticket, pass to travel, contract to use a MaaS service, etc.

Usage
Journey, parking duration, etc. The specification also includes services consumed when this usage takes place e.g. electric vehicle (EV) charging, in-flight phone calls, etc.

Concession
This would be for something such as a Railcard or staff discount scheme. But could also include a pre-paid voucher / coupon, etc.

Peer review & feedback welcome:
All details of both draft API specifications (“customer-account” and “operator-info”) are publicly available to view online here:
https://app.swaggerhub.com/search?type=API&owner=open-transport

Open Transport requires a mindset change

The integration of different transport accounts owned by the same person (e.g. their rail, subway and electric scooter accounts) is certainly a technical challenge. But one that the Open Transport initiative believe can be overcome, especially if common standards such as open APIs are used.

But technology isn’t the only barrier to overcome. Complete transport account interoperability also needs transport providers to accept they are just part of the complete customer journey.

It also requires different industries such as public transport, transport technology & MaaS platform vendors and even airlines & car parking apps to integrate and work together for the benefit of the customer.  Leading to the swifter and easier implementation of an end-to-end Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS ) transport ecosystem.

Helping to piece together end-to-end journeys

A person’s journey (e.g. making their regular commute to work) does not start and end when they board and get off a bus or train. For most travellers there is also additional travel taking place (e.g. when they leave the house to get to the stop or station and when they continie their onwards journey at the other end to get to their work place).

In some cases these additional pieces of travel are on foot. But in other cases these are made by taxi, ride share, electric scooter or even another bus or train.

In a fragmented transport environment this therefore makes it rather hard for the travelling customer to piece together their entire door-to-door journeys made using more than one mode of transportation. Typically needing them to log into and view multiple online accounts at the same time.

What we are therefore developing at Open Transport is a way to link these different transport provider accounts for the same individual. Once linked, they can then log into an account of their choosing and get a much better consolidated view of their end-to-end journeys (plus their tickets purchased and any discounts they are entitled to)

Deliverables & timescales to create an initial Open Standard

We have been asked what our timescales are around delivering an Open Standard, so we thought we would be completely transparent about our aims here.

Note: The current work to create both API specifications (‘customer-account’ and ‘operator-info’) are the intellectual property of Ideal Interface. This will change when version 1.0 of the Open Standard is created.

14th October 2019 (International Standards Day)
Draft ‘Customer-account’ API specification v0.9 issued for industry peer review

4th November
Draft ‘Operator-info’ look-up API specification v0.9.1 issued for industry peer review

20th December
Final date for feedback and questions

3 January 2020
Launch of v1.0 as Open Standard. This will also be be when there is the official handover of on-going management and further changes of specification & documentation from Ideal Interface to a new ‘Open Transport’ organisation.

Open Transport shortlisted for Global Ticketing Technology Award

We are incredibly proud to announce that Open Transport has made the 2020 Transport Ticketing Global Awards Shortlist. Our work, in creating the first open API specification for transport account interoperability, is in the category of Ticketing Technology of the Year.

The winners will be announced at the Transport Ticketing Gala Dinner & Awards ceremony on 28 January 2020. This will be held in the impressive “Making the Modern World” hall at the Science Museum.

This is further confirmation of how positively the industry is reacting to the work done so far by the Open Transport Initiative. 2020 promises to be a great year.

Peer review from MaaS Scotland community

Thursday 5th December saw Hayden Sutherland present the Open Transport work to a number of Maas Scotland members and other interested parties. This was part of an event called “Data: Fuelling the transport technology revolution”

The purpose of the Open Transport session in the afternoon was to get a wider peer of what has been produced by the initiative so far, with the aim of creating an Open Standard by early 2020

The first part of the session was to:

  1. Provide attendees with an overview what Open Transport provides
  2. Explain why we think this innovation is needed
  3. Go into more detail about what it is we have created (and is not)
  4. Describe the proposed high-level architecture
  5. Highlight the timescales for the next few weeks until the specifications become an Open Standard

Hayden then took part in an interactive workshop session (Q&A and more detailed discussion), where different MaaS Scotland members asked questions and contributed thoughts including:

  • Similarities to Open Banking and points of differentiation
  • Methods of validating users looking to join different transport accounts
  • How the Open Transport standard intersects or aligns with other standards
  • What the following steps would be & any barriers to achieving this

Overall the group was very supportive of the work done so far. They also acknowledged that this was a first step towards wider market acceptance and adoption of open standards and that more work was now required to develop both the centralised ‘operator-info’ API look-up directory service and create a reference implementation of an account using the ‘customer-account’ API integration specification.

Open Transport would therefore like to extend its huge thanks to MaaS Scotland for all its support so far.

Open Transport attends World Rail Festival 2019

Today members of the Open Transport initiative attended World Rail Festival in Amsterdam .

The World Rail Festival is a global event where over 900 attendees come to meet and discuss commercial strategy, digital transformation, next generation ticketing, customer experience, revenue management, MaaS and smart mobility, stations, connectivity, real time information in the rail, bus and urban mobility sectors.

At this event many different people from across the transport industry got to hear about the work that Open Transport has done and the plans to release two API specifications as Open Standards from early January 2020.

A leaflet was also produced for the event and handed out for further information. This can be downloaded as a PDF:

Given that many people still asked the same questions (e.g. “Why are you doing this for free?” and “Where do I see this?”) it has led us to strongly consider the addition of a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on this website.

Open Transport presents to Ticketing Card Forum

Today (3 December 2019), Hayden presented the work of the Open Transport initiative to the Ticketing Card Forum (TCF) in London run by Smartex.

At the event, he explained how Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) is maturing as a concept, that transport start-ups are growin in number & market share and that Maas platforms across cities and regions are evolving

However the expansion of the mobility market also creates issues. In that each new entrant into the transport market is a new source of customer data, each new MaaS platform creates its own customer account AND introduces proprietary integration standards. Plus at the same time the existing transport providers are enriching their self-service accounts to provide a better user experience AND build a relationship with their customers.

He also explained that Open Transport has published both draft API specifications for industry peer review and that by 20th December all feedback and questions were expected. This gives a small amount of time over the Christmas holiday period to finalise the specifications ready for v1.0 and its release as an Open Standard.

Where else do federated accounts exist?

Open Transport is based upon the idea that that different transport and mobility accounts owned by the same individual can be integrated together in a federated manner. This means that the Transport Provider can still have their own customer account and that is does not need to be merged up into one super account e.g. as part of a Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) Platform.

In fact, our ‘Customer-account’ specification allows Transport Provider and MaaS Platform account data to be interoperable… even if they are based on entirely different technologies and from different vendors.

But where else does this federated approach to account integration exist?

Well this is easy, its Open Banking. Initiated in January  2018,  legislation was introduced that the 9 biggest UK banks must release their data in a secure, standardised form, so that it could be shared more easily.

Since then, APIs have been published for read/write account access. This has then allowed the secure data exchange between accounts whilst preserving the all-important bank & customer relationship. But still allowing the customer to view their account transaction history and to carry out other functions from within the account of their choice.

https://standards.openbanking.org.uk/

Why we decided to create Open Transport

The Open Transport standard for customer account interoperability facilitates the integration of different transport accounts owned by the same individual. Once accounts are linked, the standard allows a person to view all purchases, usage and even concessions (e.g. discounts and railcards) in another account.

This works in the same way that Open Banking does for bank accounts – where a person can link one current account to another. Meaning they do not need to log into both accounts at the same time to get a joint view of their complete financial transactions.

Our standard does not directly deal with transport ticketing or financial transactions, other standards do that very well. It simply provides a means of remotely viewing the transport data (including ticket / purchase data) stored in the system of each different participating transport operator.

The team behind this initiative decided to design a standard for the entire transport industry, not just for one vendor. Something that, when mature enough, can be released an an Open Standard. Creating a free-to-use and consistent way for accounts provided by different suppliers and technologies to integrate and share transport data.

We think the transport industry needs this innovation, so we created it!