G-Cloud 12 Contenders – You. Smart. Thing.

You. Smart. Thing. (YST) provides a cloud-based Travel Assistant service to public and private sector organisations, that guides people to venues and events ‘the smart way’. We sat down with Business Development Director, Simon Grieve, to find out more.

Posted 12 October 2020 by

Welcome to the G-Cloud Contenders, Simon, let’s start by telling us about your company; what is the ‘You. Smart. Thing.’ value proposition?

The Travel Assistant is a cloud-based destination management system for regional authorities, destinations and venues that need to manage people-flow, travel demand and visitor experience. It combines identity governance technology with an innovative distributed ‘Travel Assistant’ interface. 

Simon Grieve, Business Development Director at You Smart Thing

Built to UK Government digital standards the Travel Assistant captures who’s planning to travel, where from and how, enabling network optimisation, improving accessibility and reducing emissions whilst promoting active travel.

By embedding the Travel Assistant into existing customer touchpoints, e.g. websites, social media and ticket booking systems, licensors can offer up-to-date personalised travel assistance, manage travel demand and curate the visitor experience to all types of venues and events. 

Like Google Maps, the Travel Assistant is easy to add to a website, social media post or mobile app. Unlike Google, it offers destination and transport operators a valuable ‘travel forecast’ of people’s intended travel plans, enabling demand management alongside real-time messaging. Features include the ability to curate door-to-door journeys via the most appropriate route, transport modes and complimentary services, including booking assistance. The platform offers the capability to design bespoke routing, either programmatically based on pre-defined business rules, or in collaboration with transport operators and venue stakeholders, to ensure safe and timely arrival and departure, whilst optimising people-flow, destination, venue and transport network capacity. 

The Travel Assistant application generates a highly personalised travel plan describing how to arrive at the location on the day of an event. The initial journey plan is based on an understanding of the customer needs and all known transport network events, e.g. planned maintenance works. Unlike many journey planners the Travel Assistant is able to generate integrated journey plans including tailored walking and cycling routes, and hybrid private and public transport modes, should customer needs require them. Generated journey plans are updated when new network events come to light, in advance of the journey departure time or en-route. The customer is informed directly via email or SMS and/or the venue/event operator’s CRM platform. 

What is its relevance for the public sector? Do you have any examples of organisations in the sector that have used you successfully?

According to PWC’s Covid-19 UK economic update Travel industry losses due to the Coronavirus pandemic will result in a cumulative GDP contraction of -30% in 2020. This could be significantly higher in more developed regions. Revised strategies for domestic travel planning and management are a critical for the UK’s sustained recovery.

The Travel Assistant is a solution for destinations and transport network stakeholders that facilitates safer travel for the UK’s pandemic recovery. Stakeholders can manage infrastructure and services proactively by receiving travel demand forecasts, influencing modes of travel used, predicting congestion, re-routing in real-time, adding or removing capacity, and generating rich data for a holistic insight.

Rationed loading and journey staggering can be achieved through a unique Travel Plan allocation feature, limiting the number of options offered by time of day, transport mode, or service operator. In turn, travellers can select safer, sustainable, less crowded journey options in accordance with their travel preferences, get personalised travel plans, and receive dynamic route updates.

The service is free-to-use for the public, simple-to-access, secure, and endorsed by trusted regional operators and the UK government. As travellers register their trip in advance using the Travel Assistant and receive a unique Travel Plan via text or email, advance planning can be recommended and discretionary checks made by transport staff or civic officers, or a ‘boarding-pass’ system implemented.

At the time of publishing the system is in use by Coventry City Council, for travel planning and demand management for UK City of Culture events; by Transport for West Midlands, promoting the West Midlands Metro; and by Transport for Wales, to ration loading on rail services.

How did you find the process of on-boarding onto the GCloud, and do you have any guidance or others on the basis of that experience?

Like any other formal public sector procurement initiative, G-Cloud requires the compilation of rigorous due diligence documentation to provide the necessary assurances to de-risk procurement. Gaining the required certifications and acquiring the relevant levels of insurance may seem daunting to some applicants, and counter-intuitive to the facilitation of agile innovation. Once vendors can achieve this however, subsequent contracts which may otherwise be out of reach become accessible and easier to close, as the ‘leg-work’ has already been done.

If we came back to talk to you in a year, what would you like to be able to say you’d achieved in the public sector IT space?

‘You. Smart. Thing.’ has been instrumental in the facilitation of safe, secure travel across the UK. We’ve helped to reopen the UK’s sports, cultural and hospitality sectors, whilst helping the public sector accelerate sustainable transport and net zero targets through regional deployments of the Travel Assistant platform.