NextBillion.ai + WhereIsMyTransport: Augmenting scale and growth for emerging markets
By Yohnny Raich, Head of Data Strategy, WhereIsMyTransport and Gaurav Bubna, Co-Founder of NextBillion.ai
Billions of people live in emerging-market countries in Africa, Latin America, Southeast Europe, and Asia. And of the world’s two billion people aged between 10 and 24, one billion live in emerging markets. With these regions expected to experience greater income growth and economic growth than developed markets between now and 2030, organisations looking to scale their impact are increasingly turning to emerging markets, where they can create more value and facilitate more growth.
Emerging-market countries have seen a rapid transformation in their geographical landscapes. The COVID-19 pandemic forced most businesses to rethink the way they connected with their customers and, as a result, many companies in emerging markets have aligned customer engagement through on-demand delivery operations, last-mile logistics, and delivery operations.
On-demand delivery services have now become a key operational aspect for driving customer satisfaction. As emerging-market countries continue to transform into a location-first geospatial landscape, the real question is: How do we help emerging economies and companies achieve this level of scale? More importantly, how do we enable governmental and business entities to achieve their objectives?
Harnessing high-growth opportunities
Location-based data represents a gold mine of high-growth opportunities. By tapping into this data, businesses can effectively streamline and scale their operations, and incorporate map experiences for the streamlining of day-to-day operations.
To achieve true scale, we need to look at all factors that contribute to both micro and macro-level sets of expansion activities. While the end objective is the same for WhereIsMyTransport and NextBillion.ai, the approaches taken to facilitate the scale of mapping experience are quite different.
WhereIsMyTransport answers one side of this challenge by producing the data that makes insight, understanding, and impact possible. While NextBillion.ai solutions focus on the usability of data like this, and adding innovative experiences to utilise its true potential.
WhereIsMyTransport’s mobility and location data offering focuses exclusively on emerging markets, and includes Transit Data, Point of Interest (POI) Data, and Real-Time Alerts. When you know how people move, the modes they use, and how long it takes them to get where they need to go, you can unearth valuable insights and opportunities — and the use cases are broad.
“Most people thought the best use of public transport data was solving public transport problems; that location data is only about location. But the potential of data goes far beyond the obvious.” — Devin de Vries, CEO of WhereIsMyTransport
For consumer application providers, this can mean enriching user experiences with data that truly reflects the commuter experience. Working with WhereIsMyTransport, Google Maps enhanced their service in Mexico City, integrating our Transit Data to ensure their powerful trip-planning algorithm includes the Metro, formal buses, and colectivos on the same journey results.
Reliable data also informs infrastructure feasibility evaluations. Working with the engineering firm WSP in Sarajevo, WhereIsMyTransport’s Transit Data established that 75% of minibus trips were not completed due to a lack of fleet. WSP was able to produce a reliable cost-benefit analysis, and a wider evaluation of the feasibility of public transport investments.
Understanding both formal and informal public transport requires a foundation of accurate mobility data. WhereIsMyTransport worked with the World Bank in multiple African cities, providing mobility data that informed project evaluations and helped the organisation develop a deeper understanding of how citizens move and access economic opportunities.
NextBillion.ai’s geolocation-based services have been developed to solve age-old problems that have plagued maps in both emerging and developed markets — higher accuracy ETAs, improved turn-by-turn navigation, accurate entry and exit points for business and residential complexes.
To achieve this level of accuracy, NextBillion.ai offers on-premise deployment options which lets businesses create their own map stack that’s customised to meet their own unique requirements. NextBillion.ai’s mapping solutions focus on solving challenges faced by logistics and fleet management teams across industries — emergency services, ride-hailing, food and grocery delivery, last mile logistics, fleet management, and long haul trucking.
“Enterprise customers are demanding mapping solutions that provide services that are aligned with their 24/7 operations. Correspondingly, their map data needs to be continuously updated, optimised and tuned through that same 24/7 lens.” — Jim Welch, Head of Solutions Engineering — Americas, NextBillion.ai
Transportation and geolocation infrastructure have increasingly become important for the public, and also for businesses and startups that have been forced to change the way they operate post-pandemic. To address this requirement and to fully realise the potential of enterprise map data, NextBillion.ai offers APIs and SDKs that can seamlessly be integrated into existing mapping platforms, and support enterprise-grade scale.
Producing and maintaining data at scale
Growth and scale are separate, yet intertwined, concepts. Growth could be seen as the increase of revenue or business operations, combined with a similar rate of increasing resources. Scale, on the other hand, is boosting growth or output while adding resources at a slower rate. Scaling brings additional challenges. Efficient processes are critical.
Contributing to WhereIsMyTransport’s recent white paper Navigating Growth, Julian Hirst — Chief Growth Officer — explains the value of documenting methodologies in data production playbooks:
“Our playbook allows us to accelerate the roll-out of new features and processes, and to operationalise for scale — mapping multiple megacities simultaneously, stacking multiple data types, and acquiring new markets more quickly and efficiently. In 2017, for example, we mapped Cape Town (population 4.5M) in six months. In 2019, we mapped Mexico City (population 21.2M) in just six weeks.” — Julian Hirst, Chief Growth Officer, WhereIsMyTransport
Playbooks — the documentation of informed, repeatable processes — are critical for mapping and maintaining data at scale, but so are the right tools. WhereIsMyTransport’s data production app Collector underpins our data production in emerging markets. Collected data is sent to our bespoke web-based data management platform to securely validate, process, edit, and maintain data accuracy. We also process third-party data feeds, validating and enriching the data collected in-field with schedules, fares, service exceptions, stop locations, and other route and trip attribute data. Once this foundation of Transit Data is in place, our in-market data production teams add further contextual data, producing and maintaining our unrivalled Point of Interest Data and Real-Time Alerts feeds.
Managing data at a higher level of scale also requires operational teams to have a different type of map experience compared to that offered by traditional and consumer-facing map platforms. For instance, businesses can harness large amounts of data to create their own unique mapping data stack that’s fully controlled and managed by them. However, by adding innovative map experiences to the platform, such as highly accurate ETAs and optimised routing algorithms, businesses can realise the full potential of their own mapping stack and take usability to the next level. NextBillion.ai’s Large Distance Matrix API is one such example of an innovative solution that’s specifically developed for enterprises.
“If companies want to provide a rich consumer experience, they need to start controlling their own mapping stack, because many businesses are fundamentally running on maps. Distance and time are the most important things they need to provide that experience to consumers.”- Ajay Bulusu, Co-Founder, NextBillion.ai
Scaling benefits from an organisational culture of technological innovation and a commitment to constant optimisation. Automation and AI will play an increasingly important role, making cheaper, faster, better data processing and management possible.
The role of market understanding
At WhereIsMyTransport, we believe that a hyperlocal approach is critical if producing and maintaining data representative of the ground truth is the goal. Our core team works with colleagues based in the cities in which we offer data, managing the production and maintenance of reliable data assets.
We understand there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and our commitment to a hyperlocal understanding manifests itself in all our data production processes. This approach reflects our desire to add value to already-growing markets.
“It’s always about team. Finding the right team is difficult. For something as unique as emerging markets, it may be more about finding an established and experienced partner.”- J. Kim Fennell, Chairman of the Board, WhereIsMyTransport
For organisations looking to harness these growth opportunities, building hyperlocal expertise is not always a requirement. Securing a partner with relevant experience, and an already-established hyperlocal expertise of their own, is a viable avenue.
Maps and location data have become key driving factors for growth and expansion for both public and private sectors. To harness the full potential of location data, people need to rely on innovative and customisable tools that help manage, analyse and interpret data effectively.
At WhereIsMyTransport, the ease at which people can combine our global-standard data assets into their own products and projects enables impact at scale, often within entirely new markets.
At NextBillion.ai, people can develop their own mapping platform and enable innovative experiences which helps improve ROI and streamline operations.
Organisations are increasingly turning to emerging markets to harness opportunities for growth, and WhereIsMyTransport’s and NextBillion.ai’s investments in scalable data production, map experiences, and maintenance methodologies are a pathway for project success. Because producing and maintaining data at scale has the greatest value when the outcomes allow other organisations to scale themselves.