Shared Mobility Thoughts

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Women in Shared Mobility: Interview With Sandra Witzel, Head of Marketing at SkedGo

Jun 29, 2020

This month on the ‘Women In Shared Mobility’ series, our CEO Sandra Phillips interviewed Sandra Witzel, Head of Marketing at SkedGo.

Sandra has almost two decades of marketing experience, with a major focus on technology-based, disruptive and fast growing businesses. She has previously worked for start-ups, SMEs, corporates and agencies. Her passion for the transport and travel sectors is unsurprising, as a German who has lived and worked in Australia, USA, Malta and, currently, England. She is now focused entirely on this area, as the Head of Marketing for SkedGo, a Mobility-as-a-Service tech enabler. Sandra regularly speaks at major transport-tech events around the world. As part of SkedGo’s pro-active partnership with the MaaS Alliance, she is an active member of the working group ‘Users & Rights’ and work stream leader for ‘User-Centric MaaS’. She is also co-founder of the Women in Mobility (WiM) London Hub. Within the MaaS ecosystem, Sandra is particularly interested in making transport more accessible and inclusive.

If you missed our WiSM interview last month, you can find it here. Want to have a look at all of Women in Shared Mobility interviews? View the entire category here.

Women in Shared Mobility: Mobility-as-a-Service – HOW TO CREATE a MORE ACCESSIBLE AND INCLUSIVE TRANSPORTATION ECOSYSTEM.

The Interviewee:

sandra witzel, head of marketing, skedgo

The Interviewer:

Sandra Phillips, chief executive officer, movmi

ceo movmi

SANDRA PHILLIPS

Before we begin, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?

SANDRA WITZEL

I’m the Head of Marketing at SkedGo and we are a mobility as a service platform provider, which means we facilitate Mobility-as-a-Service applications for other companies and also government local government and we’re very good at routing, that’s our speciality, but overall we offer a holistic Mobility-as-a-Service program for other companies and government who want to bring their own solutions to market. We’re a B2B company that started in Australia. We still have our headquarters in beautiful Sydney but I am now located in the UK. We also have a German office, we have developer teams in Argentina and in Vietnam as well. We’re small but a global company.

SANDRA PHILLIPS

Why do you think there was an uptake of MaaS last year?

SANDRA WITZEL

I think it’s a combination of things. Firstly, I think it’s the growth of of the whole area of multimodal travels. We have a lot more modes available now to get from A to B, it’s not just either take the car or the bicycle or the train but we’ve got all the shared mobility options. We’ve got the micro mobility options as well, so there’s a lot more in terms of modal mix and that needs to be organized somehow. This is one of the advantages of Mobility-as-a-Service – it can help organize what we call ‘trip chains.’ If you want to go from A to B using different modes of transport we call it a ‘trip chain’ and Mobility-as-a-Service can help make bring sense into these trip chains and also make them more individualized. It’s not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ way to getting from A to B anymore, but Mobility-as-a-Service can actually help individualize solutions. It could tell someone who, for example, has special accessibility needs that the route they were going to take is not accessible, why don’t they take another route. We’re working on weather related routing, for example, it can tell someone that the weather is not so good today, why don’t you take this mode of transport instead of the shared bike. It can also tell you where different modes of transport are available and how they’re available, It’s really a good service that brings together all these different modes and for the benefit of the of the end user. You can really help push certain ways of transport, so there’s obviously a lot more interest in greener travel at the moment and more sustainable ways of transport. With Mobility-as-a-Service you can make those more visible and you can show people the healthiest route and the most environmentally friendly route. We do that for example with our routing engine, we can show routes according to carbon emissions and you can set that as your own personal priority. If you say environmentally friendly travel is really important to you, you can set that as a priority, so you get a whole different routing result from our applications. Or you can say, I’m really in a hurry I want to go really fast from A to B, then you get another different routing result. I think it’s really driven by the the increase of modes, the need for greener travel and also, I think, the push from from transport authorities to be more involved in the whole picture of travel and not just public transport.

SANDRA PHILLIPS

Do we need all this tech to solve our transportation problems? Do you think that’s what will ultimately help us move out of our single occupancy vehicles and move over to shared modes?

SANDRA WITZEL

I think actually from an end user perspective there will be less technology. It combines all the other technologies into one interface, so for an end user it actually makes it simpler. Instead of having 10 different apps to organize their their transport related activities throughout the day, they’ll end up with just having one app that does everything. An app that books their tickets and alerts them when they have to leave the house and shows them where they have to go. It’s supposed to make it a lot easier for the end user.

SANDRA PHILLIPS

What role can MaaS and these new forms of transportation play in making transportation more accessible for all?

SANDRA WITZEL

I think there are a lot of benefits. I mean, obviously we still have to work on making transport methods themselves more accessible. If transport modes I want to use aren’t accessible then there’s very little that MaaS can do. It can only pick up on the work that the train operators and the car share operators and the micro mobility operators have already done. Once they have done that work and they provide the data on it, then we can create really useful information out of that because we can tell people which trip chains are suitable for their specific needs. For example, we had a really good test project in Sydney where Transport for New South Wales collected the weight information of carriages through IOT sensors. Then we worked together with the branch of the university that created an application to help people on the autistic spectrum to direct them to more empty carriages, so they would feel more comfortable using public transport and that was a really great case, where mobility and service can help people with specific accessibility needs and really personalize that experience.

Hopefully at some stage we’ll get more information, like the information from the barriers where people enter a station, to see how busy is the station so we can direct people to use the particular transport at a different times, when it’s less busy. Then we can move more into predictive occupancy, for example, which is also really relevant, now that we’re looking at providing safer transport during and after the Coronavirus crisis. Occupancy has lots of different use cases that can help make transport safer during a crisis like this, but it also helps with accessibility needs as well.

SANDRA PHILLIPS

What other things could be happening right now to make transport more accessible for everyone?

SANDRA WITZEL

Ideally, if transportation providers could integrate accessibility from the start, so they wouldn’t have to retrofit. That’s obviously the ideal scenario. With micro mobility and the Transport Authority in San Francisco, they did a really good job there after they had that sort of initial chaos. I think the scooter companies  were dumping all their scooters into San Francisco at the beginning. I was just living there at the time and they all came at the same time, so suddenly. There were just scooters everywhere and the whole city was sort of littered with them. Then the SMT pulled back and then they started regulating the service and one of the pieces of regulation was that they had to provide a certain amount of, what they called, ‘adaptive scooters’ that fulfill certain accessible requirements. So they have, for example, three wheels scooters that are more stable or they have a seat. They’re more suitable for people who can’t stand up and the a scooter companies came up with some really great solutions. They consulted with some disability organizations and created specific useful scooters that they integrated into their scooter fleet. That’s obviously great, but if they can do that from the start and then we can pick up on that information and include that in in our system as well and tell people where these scooters are and how they can integrate them into their trip chains.

SANDRA PHILLIPS

How do we make the process of designing transportation more inclusive?

SANDRA WITZEL

I think a lot is really just raising awareness continuously and that’s something that I do. I do a lot of talks on accessible transport. I’ve joined a group called ‘Women in Mobility’ which is a group that came out of Germany originally and I’ve co-founded ‘Women and Mobility London.’ with two other women in the mobility sector and we talk a lot about how to make mobility more inclusive, also in terms of the gender balance. SkedGo’s a member of the MaaS Alliance which is a really great industry association that that helps push for the the wider awareness of mobility services and what we need in terms of how to make Mobility-as-a-Service work. The MaaS Alliance is also doing some really great work as well, looking at the user needs. We did a webinar recently on how to make mobility more accessible, that was really well attended. They also put out a paper on user centric MaaS and what that needs. There’s a lot of work done around that topic and we just have to keep doing things to create that awareness and also create that pressure for companies to consider.

SANDRA PHILLIPS

What else can we do to showcase other voices within the industry?

SANDRA WITZEL

I think, again, awareness is really important. Being aware and pushing that message and not pausing. I think we just have to keep doing it. I see now that I’ve started with the ‘Women and Mobility London’ how I see so many other women in transport, women at InMotion and so many other really amazing groups in that sector. I think we just need to keep organizing ourselves and keep talking about these issues.

SANDRA PHILLIPS

How do we make sure that MaaS and new forms of mobility are an attractive solution for people, beyond the one percent?

SANDRA WITZEL

I think there are two points. There are probably more than two points, but I think the the main two points would be; one, we really really need open data. We need open standardized data and we need to make sure that we don’t end up with data silos, where a few large corporations hoard all the data and not share and I think very strongly that needs to come from the top down. That needs to be regulated like in Finland, for example. Finland put out legislation four years ago where they said all transport related data needs to be open and anyone who wants to do business in Finland has to provide and share data. I think that’s a really great example on how it should be done, because we live our lives off data and the more open it is and the more we have available, the better the innovation will be as well. The more innovation happens, the more the users will benefit and we will be able to create more relevant products and better quality products. This will create better user experience and encourage an uptake the amount of consumers. The second point is really just, classic product development. Look at your target audience – what are their pain points? What are their problems? What do they need? Then develop products from there and not just from your own little ivory tower. I think that’s really important and not just designing from your little tech bubble.

What are your thoughts on the future of shared mobility and what developments are to be expected in 2020?  If you would like to be interviewed or to nominate a woman working in Shared Mobility for our next series, get in touch with us here.

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