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March 31, 2021
5 min read

Putting Passengers First


Matt Crisp has over 20 years of experience across mobility businesses, focusing on simplifying complex things. He's highlighted how we can center innovation and ideas around people, the passenger, and the individual throughout his career. He's also a frequent advocate for sustainability within cities, having worked on shifting society's perception to adapting more sustainable and planet-friendly choices. We discussed how we could place passengers at the forefront of our minds while regaining their trust as people start to travel once again.


Let's start with an overview of your career so far...

Throughout my career, I've worked in a variety of industries. I started in global FMCG brands and then moved to lead an independent creative agency in London before deciding to pursue a portfolio career. Since then, I've worked in a global waste and recycling business, joined a mobility data business in the States, advised multiple startups, and worked in Uni incubators both here and in the US.

It started with BigBelly in intelligent waste management — a smart bin that uses sensors and cloud connectivity to tell you when it's full. That means you don't have trucks driving around kicking out emissions and congesting the city, collecting half-empty bins. We placed over 40,000 bins in major cities and college campuses worldwide, saving local authorities money and reducing environmental impact. Global waste is doubling every ten years, making a real difference in tackling the problem. But the fascinating part is that once you've got that bit of physical kit out on the street, you can go beyond waste management and add more services later on. Each station was connected to the cloud and is solar-powered to collect and share sensor data. It becomes a platform that can respond to what people need. In New York, for example, we even meshed a wifi network to the bin system.

In terms of mobility, I've worked on multiple projects within cities, post my agency life, supporting startups. While also supporting a range of startups and scale-ups around growth, helping them create stories and their improved strategic narrative from a brand and commercial point of view, helping them to scale their businesses significantly

I found it interesting working alongside colleagues from multiple disciplines, creatives, product, engineers, designers, and innovation experts. I'd advise anyone to be open to new projects as they are a great way of continuously learning and understanding others' ideas and skills.


How did you get to know the ES_Mobility team?

My work within smart cities led to me working alongside Tim Fendley, the founder of Applied. Applied is a global wayfinding business behind London's walking system Legible London. The basis for multiple walking systems which are adopted through major cities globally. I really like this idea because it shows that human-centered innovation doesn't have to be about cutting-edge digital technology. Simple behavior change is just as important.

Applied introduced me to Edenspiekermann, and their human-centric focus of business and design, which aligned pretty perfectly with my own views.

Joining up with ES_mobility has been a very natural progression through wanting to improve how people navigate through space. The team comprises ex-clients who have led major global projects, so we know how hard it is to get things to market and deployed, and that collaboration is often the best way forward.

From your perspective, what is the focus of ES_Mobility?

Mobility affects everyone that's why it's such an interesting and dynamic sector. The Pandemic has delivered multiple challenges but also an opportunity to reset. The ability to bring new ideas, hopefully quickly. Research tells us that people will demand from countries, communities, and society to shift their thinking and actions towards a more equal, healthy, and sustainable world in the next ten years.

I think it's pretty clear now that society is demanding a more planet-centric way of thinking. One of the areas most directly influenced by this change is how people will choose to move from A to B. Most businesses are faced with the challenge of technology vs. humanity and trying to do the right thing. It's hard. - health safety, climate change, air quality, congestion, inclusion.

I believe a radical way of thinking about mobility is needed to provide the answers to facilitate their need to move and travel. Passengers need simpler, cleaner, and more sustainable solutions in an environment and infrastructure that is better tailored to their needs.


You’ve got a pretty extensive background in mobility, what do you believe you can bring to the table?

After years within the mobility industry, I believe I have a strong foundation of knowledge in improving the travel experience for passengers. I’ve spent a lot of time working alongside airlines and airports, identifying how we can provide people with smoother journeys’ and eliminate pain points such as connecting flights, boarding, and general wayfinding around airports, creating more intuitive and functional experiences for everybody.

I’ve also worked on cities. Learning how we can ensure people utilize their resources better and in a more sustainable manner. How sharing information and benefits can trigger people to use their cars less, walk more, take public transport—resulting in more innovative, more sustainable, and even safer cities.

What do you consider to be the most important element of the customer journey experience?

Giving people choices. Choices mean accessibility, and accessibility means inclusivity, it's essential to design for everyone and diverse needs. The more choices we can provide people with, the better. I also believe it's important to not only create new stuff, but utilise and transform the infrastructure already in place. Not only is this cost-saving, but it's also a much more sustainable approach to building and planning.

The real question is, how do we make mobility something that is really easy and accessible for all?

You've spent a lot of time focusing on the future of mobility; what do you believe will transform cities the most in the next five years?  

I believe the most significant change will be planning. Once we start to realize more the consequences of climate change within cities, such as poor air quality, there will be a perception shift. If we can plan cities more around human and planet-centric needs, rather than cars, we will ultimately create much more eco-friendly cities, improving the quality of life for all citizens.

How we plan for these changes will be crucial, and I think this is something we will experience a difference in. I would hope that in the future, cities place people and sustainability at the forefront.

With the pandemic, what effects have you witnessed on transit? How do you think we can regain passenger trust?

As we've heard many times before, there isn't a single person unaffected by the pandemic. Within mobility and transit, this has been huge. My home has now become my office, gym, school, and even restaurant; the need for me to leave my house is minimal. This questions whether individuals, like myself, will return to our past lives and commutes.

I believe there is still a need for face-to-face meetings and interactions, but the number of people working from home in the future will have drastically increased. We're now faced with an opportunity to transform the transit industry and mobility as a whole for the better. To encourage people to commute again, we need to ensure they feel safe, comfortable and enjoy the experience. After all, changing a commute from your bed to your desk into a 1 + hour daily slog needs to have some benefits. I do though miss the time to read on the train home and the walk often via my local.

I think minimizing the fear element is crucial; there is a lot of noise around traveling right now. And we have to identify ways to reassure passengers, highlighting the benefits and increasing the trust they have with us.

Naturally, we will settle into a new way of working; this may change over time as we experience more potential pandemics. One could argue that the regular commute is lost forever.

If we at ES_Mobility can help work with our partners to take away the pain points, make it easier, help understand passenger needs and build capability around that. Create personal services that help people. Make things quicker, easier, safer, more accessible. But also profitable for our commercial partners.