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The case of OCTO-SoBigData collaboration on smart mobility

Since its launch in 2015, our research infrastructure dedicated to data analysis and social mining has sparked in time numerous collaborations with industry partners in a dynamic exchange of expertise between public research and business sectors.

In this inaugural edition of the renewed SoBigData Magazine, we will explore one well of the most established collaborations, featuring an exclusive interview with Tina Martino, the Head of Marketing at OCTO Telematics, and Mirco Nanni, Head of KDD Lab at CNR-ISTI.

We present how the partnership between OCTO, a company operating in the smart mobility industry, and SoBigData is shaping the future of data-driven innovation.

The two worlds of OCTO and the “Sustainable Cities for Citizens” SoBigData Research Space found a way to match their respective goals and objectives by combining innovative ‘data-driven’ business models enabled by the huge amount of OCTO mobility data and many competencies to analyse and extract knowledge and value from them.

“Our collaboration with OCTO started around 15 years ago”, Nanni says. “Our research group was leading a pioneering project on mobility data analysis (GeoPKDD), and OCTO showed immediate interest in novel ways to enhance their data use beyond the Insurance Market, which was their core business.”

By designing and developing several R&D projects over the years, OCTO and KDD Lab worked on projects through multiple engagement models to develop novel data-driven services in mobility and sectors such as Insurance, Telco operators (Italian and foreign), energy providers, nationwide retail sellers, car makers and urban mobility policy managers. Thus, this collaboration perfectly showcases how applied research impacts society by sharing and transferring competencies and technologies.

Results and impacts of a successful partnership

“Big Data is a game changer for the mobility transformation. Patterns and trends can be identified analysing large datasets, and novel insights create a valuable layer of shared knowledge, enabling more efficient resource allocation and easing informed decision-making across various sectors and stakeholders, i.e., car makers, policymakers, fleet managers from which citizens benefit first and foremost,” Martino says.

One of the most noticeable results obtained by the partnership has seen the publication in the prestigious scientific journal Nature Sustainability, offering valuable insights into non-trivial behaviours. The study, carried out in 2022 by Mirco Nanni and colleagues based on OCTO data, highlighted that the primary pollution from city traffic results not as much from the large number of cars in circulation but from a few highly polluting vehicles: “Having a few extreme cases in any population can be considered normal, yet it is not trivial to understand when their impact is significant. Access to real data makes it possible to quantify that impact, and thus provide better insights to the domain experts and decision-makers.”

The application of these results can find applications in other sectors, such as Fleet companies, to improve their ecological footprint in the transition to green mobility supporting mobility managers in understanding how to mitigate their daily routines through less polluting solutions. But the scientific results provide further insight, as incremental analysis done by OCTO shows how more contextual information as individual predictive risk and eco-scoring, lay the foundation for the driver to measure his driving style and then learn how to improve towards a safer and greener behaviour.

“From the analysis of OCTO data acquired by connected vehicles, the collaboration with CNR-ISTI has created many valuable synergies with immediate implications” according to Martino. “Just to mention some of them, knowing the mobility of people based on real mobility data allows to design infrastructure roads, crossings, traffic lights, and public transportation based on actual and measurable needs of transfer; define emergency planning and way-out for crowded spaces; reduce the impact of traffic after roadwork sites; support the EV chargers planning based on the energy demand of the drivers, on trip mileage, class of vehicle, time of stops”.

Different goals, shared benefits

The possibility of working within OCTO’s massive database of mobility was an excellent opportunity for the research team as well, Nanni underlines: “OCTO’s needs exposed us to novel technical issues and challenging objectives that stimulated our research. Also, working on OCTO’s great data assets allowed us to develop considerable expertise in big mobility data.”

“On the company side, we were able to put the research results in place at the industrial level, raising the company’s competitiveness with advanced technology, guaranteeing the quick applicability of the results on the market,” adds Martino. Each company could find a well-consolidated and useful technical partner in the public research team to conduct complex, cutting-edge technology projects. 

Moreover, a public research mission often lets researchers explore problems and applications beyond what exists in the market,  suggesting novel ideas that may have potential for the company: “Some results allow us today to provide solutions to our business customers to face the challenges due to their daily activities: manage the Total Cost of Ownership for Fleet Managers, reduce the risk and the frauds in the Insurance Market, provide more customized and valuable services based on the single user experience” Martino underlines “Last but not least, the results of the cooperation have provided a new lens to understand the society that will lead us to have a greater capacity for risk prevention for the benefit of human safety and health”.

The lesson from the OCTO-SoBigData partnership

These impacts exemplify how data can reveal surprising insights into social phenomena in different data contexts and for other industry sectors to foster innovation. According to Martino: “Economic growth is moving with a fast pace of technological innovation is a big challenge for each company and requires considering different operating models to be competitive and sustainable in the broader sense: economic sustainability, regulations’ compliance, profitability for all the stakeholders, and grafted into ethical principles.”

Moreover, this collaboration highlights the relevance of the public research sector to the private one.

For Martino: “Against the monopoly of a few big technology companies, cooperation with the public research on Big Data and AI is necessary for a company looking to stay at the forefront of technological advancements and foster innovation. This collaboration is a gain for the effectiveness of the investment, builds constructive partnerships with open sharing ideas, is helpful for the company growth and the sane competition, contributes to creating a bridge for the skills upgrades of their employees, and facilitates the students’ entry into the job market.”

Sharing a vision

Data can drive company innovation, and the public research sector can support the industry in society’s transformation in a customized way, embracing the ethical and legal principles of Big Data and AI use. Moreover, a public research institution such as SoBigData aims to improve social lifestyles by providing policymakers and company leaders the tools to make data-driven solutions with a tangible impact on societal benefit. At this point, OCTO’s and SoBigData’s visions meet together, aligned with the overarching goals of global sustainability, as Martino explains:

“The role of both public research and private companies is crucial in facilitating rapid adoption, necessitating widespread competence and skill upgrades, extensive education, and a cultural shift.

Additionally, responsible dissemination and support for policymakers are essential for creating regulations and policies that encourage innovation while addressing potential risks and challenges associated with Big Data and AI. Being part of a broader ecosystem aids in faster learning and mitigates risks through access to the right information and skills. Shaping the future together, make it happen: we aim to put into action our vision of zero (Zero pollution, Zero congestion and Zero crashes) encompassing all activities, including investing in research and development” well aligned with OCTO mission “Smart Analytics for a better-connected world”.

Sustainable Cities for Citizens: Stories about cities and their flows’ sustainability

Unlocking insights from mobile phone traces, vehicular GPS, and social media data provides a wealth of Big Data, serving as invaluable proxies for understanding human behaviour. In the mobility sector, analysing these diverse data sources holds the key to making informed decisions and steering data-driven innovation.

Delving into the heart of this data-driven revolution is the SoBigData Research Space “Sustainable Cities for Citizens,” spearheaded by the research team from IMT in Lucca, Italy, and KDD Lab at CNR-ISTI Pisa, Italy. Focused on smart mobility, this dynamic team has collaborated over the years in partnership with industry leaders to pioneer innovative solutions in the mobility and smart cities industry.

OCTO-Telematics: Zero Crashes, Zero Congestion, Zero Pollution

With a 5.7 million connected users’ network and one of the most significant global telematics database, OCTO stands at the forefront of the connected mobility sector. Recognized as a world leader in insurance telematics, OCTO extends its influence into diverse markets such as Fleet Management, shared mobility, vehicle diagnostics, real-time traffic monitoring, public transport, and mobility services.

Thanks to scalable and modular Internet of Things (IoT) platforms and the leverage of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence technologies, OCTO provides innovative solutions in Insurtech and mobility markets to manage and expand the businesses of partner companies.

OCTO has implemented a roadmap of concrete actions to disseminate best practices towards OCTO Vision Zero (Zero Crashes, Zero Congestion, Zero Pollution), aligned with the European program dedicated to reducing CO2 emissions and road safety.

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