How Abellio Is Using Optibus as a Transformational Tool
How Abellio Is Using Optibus as a Transformational Tool in London as It Heads Toward Zero Emissions
Abellio and Optibus are proud to be partnering on digital transformation and sustainability in the public transportation industry.
At Abellio London, which operates bus services in London with a fleet of 800 vehicles across six depots, digital transformation revolves around using technology and data “to improve the business performance and the performance of the routes and the services that we run,” said Alistair Willis, head of commercial at Abellio Bus Division.
And what kind of technology is Abellio using to enable its digital transformation? “The key one for me and my team is the use of the Optibus platform,” Willis said.
‘What does fantastic look like?’
Willis said Abellio has seen significant improvements in its crew duty efficiency using Optibus, the cloud-native AI platform for planning and scheduling public transportation.
Abellio also uses the platform to model multiple different scenarios for routes and electric vehicle schedules, as well as to improve dashboard visualization. “Certainly using bespoke software such as the likes of Optibus really gives us a way to change the way we present information in the business,” said Willis.
Innovation is a mutual value that serves as one of the pillars of the partnership, with Abellio eager to use technology “to bring things forward and try and challenge what’s out there.”
“One of the things that’s always impressed me is how forward-thinking Abellio is,” said Dave Joshua, Optibus general manager for Europe.
“You’re saying, ‘What does fantastic look like? What does great look like?’ And then you’re trying to get there.”
Heading toward zero emissions
Sustainability is a crucial component of being prepared for the future. There’s “the environmental aspect of ensuring that we're offering a safe, green, efficient fleet,” said Willis. “But I think equally, I see sustainability from the business aspect of the profitability and growing the business.”
Abellio is using Optibus as a transformational tool for vehicle electrification as the public transport industry heads toward zero emissions. The ability to rapidly create optimized scenarios makes it easier for Abellio to iterate and ultimately determine the most effective electric vehicle schedules.
“Now we’ve got to factor in: Well, actually, can the vehicle do that range?” said Willis. “And I think that’s where the Optibus tool from the EV charging module gives you that flexibility to ultimately put in the diesel schedule and the EV requirements, and it will optimize and say you need to bring this vehicle back, or it can cover the range.”
“Having the ability to model those and understand what is the most efficient way forward is key,” he added.
Efficiency isn’t everything
As important as efficiency is, it’s not the only thing that matters. “It isn’t just about the tech,” said Joshua. “It is also about the people.”
“How do we train schedulers for the future?” Willis asked. “I think it’s trying to be sure that we’ve got an easy-to-use platform.”
We should also be asking questions like “Are those duties the right ones and the best ones for the drivers?” Willis said. “Because if we can give them the best duties or the most suitable duties and keep them happier, that’s going to make the business more successful. And I think it’s trying to get that balance right across the board.”
Using the right tools to enable digital transformation helps transportation companies like Abellio become technology leaders prepared for whatever’s next.
“There may well be something else in the future that we don’t know about yet that we can plan and prepare for to be ready. And I think that’s where it’s important having a partner like Optibus,” said Willis. “Our aim is that we can offer the best solutions for future work.”
Nybl: Saudi Startup to Expand AI Solutions
According to co-founder Nour Alnahhas, nybl was formed for the greater good. A visual data mining and machine learning platform, the platform will help organisations streamline their operations. ‘We wanted to centralise our vision around AI and machine learning’, said Alnahhas. ‘Something not just for profit, but added value. Conscious capitalism’.
Nybl aims to democratise artificial intelligence by making it possible for anyone to build an AI solution. What website builders like Wix and Squarespace did for site design, nybl will do for AI—allowing even non-coders to feel comfortable creating solutions. In fact, Alnahhas calls it a ‘Shopify of AI’, or a third-party platform that helps businesses deliver better service.
With hubs in Kuwait, the UAE, North America, and India, nybl is focused on launching operations in Saudi Arabia, Alnahhas’s home country. When the company first launched, it was difficult to convince Saudi Arabian businesses to work with a startup. Yet now, nybl has proven itself. ‘We had support in the UAE, so now we’re coming back’, said Alnahhas.
Alnahhas has launched a pilot with Saudi Aramco and has slowly built partnerships with paper, heating, HVAC air conditioning, and manufacturing companies. In addition, the Saudi government has started to invest in the Kingdom’s National Strategy for Data and AI, which means that nbyl, as a tech startup, has finally gained credibility.
No War for Talent
One of the most critical parts of nybl’s expansion will be hiring the right individuals. Thankfully, there’s a current surplus of talented researchers, developers, and data scientists within the Kingdom. Like nybl’s Alnahhas—educated at the University of Houston, the Wharton School of Business, and INSEAD— many Saudi Arabians have benefited from government-sponsored education abroad.
Last year, Saudi Arabia signed several partnerships with tech firms to advance the Kingdom’s skills in artificial intelligence. ‘It’s exciting to be in Saudi Arabia where there’s alignment and support’, Alnahhas concluded. ‘You’re getting an increasing talent pool. And even old and big family conglomerates are finally changing to use AI’.