MaaS (Mobility-as-a-Service), which combines cloud computing, AI, big data and other technologies, is seen as necessary by national governments and companies to realize a future of intelligent transportation. Taiwan’s MaaS project, which will go live in 2022, integrates various transportation services into a single, convenient platform. This platform was developed by Dr. Yi-Chang Chiu, the founder and CEO of Metropia. He believes that MaaS needs to aggregate and compute a large amount of information and provide various innovative features that can quickly respond to user needs. To meet these needs, Metropia has adopted AWS cloud services with support from CKmates.
Metropia was founded in the US by a mainly academic team almost ten years ago when Dr. Chiu taught at the University of Arizona. His core innovation was the creation of an intelligent MaaS transport platform that combines mathematical models and modern artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. They set out to help plan operating models for system integrators and as such Metropia has solid technical capabilities in the intelligent transportation space. Since its foundation in 2012, Metropia has been dedicated to research and development. In 2015, the first version of Metropia’s behavioral engine was released, prompting the company to be included in the top 100 government technology companies by GovTech in the United States. After a decade, Metropia has expanded to many cities in the United States and was invited by the Taiwan Ministry of Transportation and Communications to return and help design and build an intelligent transportation platform. Currently, its MaaS platform is the largest such platform in the United States and Taiwan.
dr Chiu further explained how a MaaS platform works. The platform will integrate various traffic data in a single place. When users want to travel to a specific destination, they are presented with information about driving, cycling, public transport, walking, and other modes of transport. The platform also takes into account transmission times and the trade-offs between time and money. While this concept sounds relatively simple, building a service that can accurately and efficiently fulfill this design is incredibly complex and difficult. For example, Dr. Chiu provided an example of a group of students who wanted to travel on a budget but with plenty of time. The platform would offer them options primarily involving public transit such as Taiwan Railways or passenger transportation with low fares but longer travel times. Conversely, options would focus on high-speed rail and ride-hailing for business people with larger budgets but tighter time requirements. In addition, Metropia’s MaaS AI engine can learn from its users’ travel histories, recommend suitable modes of transport and meet travelers’ payment needs en route by integrating third-party cash services and mobile payment platforms.
A powerful MaaS platform that integrates food, accommodation, travel, shopping and transportation can create diverse business models. For example, lifestyle MaaS operators understand user travel behavior, which means their data can be used to recommend more accurate products and significantly increase transaction rates. Tourism MaaS operators can offer itinerary packages combining transportation plans with meals/accommodation/travel/shopping etc. By cooperating with foreign travel companies, this platform can greatly expand the foreign tourism market and increase revenue.
The integration of these technologies has many more applications, such as B. Understanding consumer travel behavior and immediately passing on discounts on food, accommodation, travel, shopping and travel. In its latest report, market research firm Juniper Research predicts that MaaS platform providers will generate $53 billion in revenue by 2027, showing that the appetite for MaaS will continue to grow.
dr Chiu pointed out that a full-featured MaaS platform must integrate a large amount of constantly updated traffic data and run AI algorithms that typically require a lot of computing resources. At the same time, the service must be able to connect to third-party platforms. All this places very high demands on the performance of the IT systems. In the early days, Metropia’s US office used AWS cloud services to deal with the rapidly growing volume of traffic and computational demands of MaaS. The Taiwan office was originally set up with an on-site backend system. AWS was later imported using CKmates to connect smoothly with the US office.
Metropia chose AWS primarily because of its focus on multiple services and scalability. dr Chiu pointed out that MaaS uses a huge amount of real-time traffic data that can change quickly. Therefore, an IT system with sufficient storage and computing resources is required. Building an independent system that can function smoothly would require a significant investment of time and money. Organizing a professional team to develop various functionalities and upgrades and maintain the software and hardware is quite troublesome for new startups. It is precisely in these circumstances that AWS helps enormously.
Since AWS already has its own hardware resources and various function modules, Metropia only had to select the right software and hardware according to current needs, which could be brought online immediately. If the user load changes in the future, the service could be increased or decreased accordingly. This role helped optimize the efficiency of Metropia’s IT budget, giving them the flexibility to expand their IT system as needed. dr Chiu mentioned that Metropia often leveraged AWS Auto Scaling’s expansion plan. This feature allowed Metropia to automatically search for relevant resources and set expansion plans within a short period of time. This functionality would take a lot of time to develop an onsite system. The AWS platform is delivered completely ready to use. In addition, the stability and information security offered by AWS is practically unmatched.
dr Chiu provided advice on how to get started using AWS based on his experience of adopting Metropia. He said that with AWS’s many features, it’s inevitable that first-time users will be overwhelmed with choices. He suggested companies to work with vendors with professional experience in this field. Metropia turned to CKmates, a company familiar with AWS with a long history of coaching companies in building IT systems. They assisted Metropia in selecting appropriate software and hardware services to maximize ROI.
With the support of CKmates, Metropia was able to make good use of AWS’s various cloud services. Since then, it has focused its corporate resources on its core business. For future planning, Dr. Chiu announced that he will continue to leverage the power of AWS to enhance Taiwan’s MaaS platform and provide a convenient and intelligent transportation service for the people of Taiwan.
Jeff Lin, Director of Mobility System at Metropia (left), Sibu Wang, Technical Director at Metropia (middle) and Chun-Cheng Zhao, Senior Sales Representative at CKmates (right)