Harmonav is sailing in public transport’s troubled waters
par Elsa Sidawy | 07.11.11
“Traffic disrupted because of material damage.” Tired of hearing these messages in the metro? On June 17th, during the Futur en Seine festival, the start-up Senda launched an application enabling users to prepare journeys while anticipating transport network incidents.
Harmonav is meant to be a collaborative infomobility service. This term designates an application providing Ile-de-France transport users with two uses. The first one enables them to prepare door-to-door journeys and choose appropriate means of transport, whether it be bike, car or metro, depending on the place they want to go to. As they have access to all theoretical transport timetable information on one platform, users are thus able to choose various means of transport to complete their trips. “For each journey, we display the global journey time and other information such as carbon emissions,” Angel Talamona, co-founder of Senda, adds. This is an interesting function but it will have to prove viable in the jungle of transport applications. Indeed it does not give more answers than other applications in terms of real-time access to information.
This issue is typical of Ile-de-France: in this region, real-time data is kept as a secret by transport companies. A situation that makes the entrepreneur gnash his teeth: “the job of a transport operator is not to sell information but transport.” And he points a finger at the Anglo-Saxon lead on the open data issue: TfL (Transport for London) provides both raw theoretical and real-time data while the Stif (Syndicat des Transports d’Ile-de-France: Ile-de-France transport trade union) provides licences costing from 12,000 to 200,000 Euros for a limited access to pre-calculated theoretical journeys. Enough to put start-ups and developers off.
Participation in mobility
In order to compensate for this “monopoly of public data situation that is an obstacle to innovation,” Harmonav provides a second use, but this time a participative one. This “real-time community alert” gives users the opportunity to signal and share geolocated transport alerts such as road traffic jams or metro delays with all the people that have the application. Can the community aspect really work? The entrepreneur has no doubt about it: “all social solutions, like Coyote or Facebook, started with a strong service basis, independent from the community.”
A showcase application
Available for free on iPhones, Harmonav is actually a showcase for Senda, which is rather focusing its business model on the development of mobility solutions for companies, especially mobility operators or local authorities wishing to set up a carpooling service in their area. We may recall for instance the Taxi Partage application provided by Orange and developed by Senda and the start-up’s participation in the multimodal application of the Avis-RATP-Vinci-SNCF consortium for the Paris Autolib’.
Though Harmonav is currently being experimented by a consortium of local authorities and innovative companies, this does not prevent the start-up from taking greater interest in the opportunities given across the Channel: “we are considering exporting the service to other cities in France and abroad, to Greater London in particular.” Could the organisation of the Olympic Games be a vehicle for opening up? For open transport data, that is for sure.
Senda in bref
Year of creation: 2006
Founders: Angel Talamona, Mikaël Kais
Head Office: Paris
Clients: SNCF, Sanef, France Télécom, Nokia, SFR, La Poste…
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Translated by Oona Bijasson