Prof. Sidharta Gautama is a trained physicist. He is at the head of research within UGent into intelligent systems. This takes place under the umbrella organisation i-Know – the Innovation Centre for Intelligent Information Processing. i-Know carries out research into information management systems with a view to ensuring the conversion of these research results into technological innovation. He also puts his impressive expertise as a partner to the service of TMaaS.
How does the work that you do at i-Know fit in with TMaaS?
Sidharta Gautama: “One of the application domains at i-Know is ‘smart cities’, where we look at how we can help a town or city to deal with the growing complexity of mobility, liveability, energy, social inclusion, etc. To achieve this we use new sources of data such as smartphones, urban sensors, fleet systems and smart meters. This data does not represent a goal in itself. It is the conversion thereof into useful and reliable information used in policy making and management that is important for us. We ensure a nuanced view of the daily patterns and needs of different target groups and we offer personal communication channels in order to give shape to the town or city. The important aspect in all this is that the local residents are always invited to join in the process.”
And does TMaaS have a role in all of this?
Sidharta Gautama: “Yes for sure. TMaaS is a specific extension thereof. Together with the partners, we focus on providing a modern and affordable mobility management system. To achieve this, we carry out research into the needs of national and international towns and cities with regards mobility management and we help with the development of a roll-out of the TMaaS prototype.”
What, in your opinion, are the greatest challenges of this project?
Sidharta Gautama: “In a first instance, we strive to expand the accessibility of a town or city in all its aspects with TMaaS. That is one important objective. This relates to daily movements, but also to urban events such as the Gentse Feesten or the creation of new urban districts. In this regard we target residents, visitors and commuters.”
I believe the innovative character of the project also plays an important role, is that correct?
Sidharta Gautama: “Yes that’s right. TMaaS represents considerable innovation in traffic management. Much like Mobility As A Service, where different transport providers work together in order to reach one single solution, the challenge for TMaaS is not just technical, but also organisational. There are also the governance and business aspects. The open character of the project is also innovative. Traffic systems are still almost always closed systems, whereby data and the platforms are offered and managed from one single company. Given that the problems in our towns are growing in complexity, these kinds of monolith systems are no longer pertinent. They do not respond to new trends and problems relating to multi-modal mobility, urban logistics, the environment and energy, etc. I believe that it is very important that we break this open – together with the industrial partners of TMaaS.”
What’s your particular hobby horse?
Sidharta Gautama: “I have a weakness for the concept of resilient cities. These are cities where intelligent systems help to encourage creativity and flexibility among people. This can help to solve the complex challenges of our growing cities and towns.”
How do you get to work?
Sidharta Gautama: “Rock ‘n’ roll.”