Middle East: Transition from private to public transport is key

The main office of PTV MENA is situated in Dubai.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes, 36 seconds

Dubai is known as early adopter of new mobility trends and the place to be for PTV’s local branch office. Andrea Petti, our new Managing Director and Regional Director, has now taken over responsibility for the business in India, the Middle East and Africa. He gives some personal insights about the outlook of the mobility business in the region.

Compass: Regarding urban development and mobility trends, what are the main categories within the region?

Andrea Petti: There are two main clusters in the region: (1) Cities in transition countries, North African and Middle East countries and (2) cities in leading, resource-rich countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Compass: What is the specialty of this market?

Andrea Petti: You have two dimensions: First, the availability of and access to resources and leadership of the rulers (especially in the leading economies of GCC). Secondly, without legacy it is easier to implement new things. They don’t need to go through the whole evolution process, so they can skip steps. Most newly-started green-field projects can be based on the latest technology, which makes implementation and realisation of the benefits for the community faster. That is totally different than in other countries or cities which have 2,000 years of history. Look at Rome for example, where ITS hits the old Roman roads that were made for carriages… So, from inception to delivery – it’s green field here. It is a unique opportunity for India, the Middle East and Africa to turn mobility into something accessible, predictable and deterministic.

Compass: Is the optimisation of the existing infrastructure also a topic?

Andrea Petti: It is definitely a topic as infrastructure, in the form of a transport network, is very costly to build and maintain for countries and cities. Optimisation can free a large amount of resources to digitisation projects and should be pursued anyway. Even a mere 5% improvement can free billions of dollars from capacity investment as well as travel time. I see key countries in the Middle East as early adopters, India as optimisation environment and Africa quickly catching up on infrastructure planning and operations.

The street network of Dubai – modelled with traffic planning software PTV Visum

Compass: You said early adopter, so do you think volocopters and drone delivery is in the near future or still far away?

Andrea Petti: A clear trend is that in the near future most of the goods will be bought over the internet. People are getting more and more used to what is called ‘one-click-away-transactions’. Therefore, there will be an issue of micro-logistics or last mile urban logistics. Is it up to drones to ease the pressure on intra-city delivery? Perhaps. It could also be something else. To me it is more about integration among transport modes and fragmented platforms. Now we have shared mobility for people. And sooner or later we will have shared and integrated delivery between people and goods. Once you have a demand-responsive mobility platform that can be orchestrated centrally, it works seamlessly for people and goods. Though, to achieve this the industry needs to move away from and disaggregate legacy vertical monopolies and decouple hardware (cars, technology, infrastructure) from software (control and orchestration layer) and expose standardised interfaces to software and services providers. Operators, authorities and regulators should focus on mobility platforms orchestration and functionalities. Back to volocopters, I come from a region that really looks at innovative concepts such as taxi drones or hyperloops. For the time being I think of it as a marketing story. Drones of course, they can be used to clean skyscrapers, they can clean solar panels as well. But will they do deliveries? We’ll see.

Compass: And what is the added value of a combination of traffic and logistics?

Andrea Petti: Just recently I was discussing this with a customer. Nowadays, with shared mobility and mobility on demand, it is not about point to point transportation with fixed routes anymore, it is more about tour optimisation and with tours you need the logic of logistics. Where you have a demand, pick-up and delivery, then you need to optimise vehicles which are moving around based on changed demand and network conditions. For me the delivery of goods and people follow the same principles. People may not like to hear it but delivering a package or delivering a human being – apart from the safety aspect – is the same thing. The process is the same: planning, execution and optimisation. The added value for our customers it that we from PTV Group are experts in both disciplines and trips and routes for over one million vehicles are planned with our software every day.

Compass: Isn’t there a difference for the very last mile? Because people can move themselves but goods cannot, do you agree?

Andrea Petti: I fully agree, the very last mile is different, absolutely. But there might be micro delivery hubs and lockers. Once again it is all about service predictability and accessibility.

Compass: What is the most revolutionising mobility trend and the biggest challenge in the region?

Andrea Petti: Like I said, they have a unique opportunity to skip some of the steps and implement the latest technology to build an accessible, predictable and deterministic mobility platform. The challenge is to shift private transport to public transport, from single-owned to shared transport means. Oil and gas are very cheap. We have very powerful engines and no taxes or incentives. So, it would be very difficult to really orchestrate mobility in a city unless you manage to bring the private transport into a shared, tiered, public transport. That is the biggest challenge to really embrace new mobility concepts. And it will be always linked to “differentiation” or segment-of-one and highly catchy things.

A PTV traffic model in 3D

Compass: Is it also about the perception of public transport or how it is accepted in society?

Andrea Petti: It is both. After I moved to Dubai I used the metro for the first five years, I did not own a car here. From time to time I also used shared cars and friends and colleagues looked at me like a guy from Mars, they were not prepared to do that. This is the common perception. Now, they recently started implementing Wifi and connectivity in public transport: that was an issue. Thirdly, there is also the perception that public transport is mainly for blue-collars. So there are some key challenges there. India and Africa are completely different. In Africa, we have a big lack of infrastructure, the challenge is to plan it properly, while in India it is more about digitisation of the existing infrastructure to pave the way for optimisation.

Compass: What is your experience with and in the region?

Andrea Petti: I have been working in the Middle East for the last 18 years. I lived in Turkey for 10 years and 8 years in Dubai until now. I have always been working in the region and I am well known in the industry. Out of Dubai I was responsible for the ITS business of Ericsson globally. I know the region and I have a long experience in working with complex solutions and projects in a systems integrator environment.

Compass: Why did you start working for PTV Group?

Andrea Petti: The reason is mobility and I want to be at the forefront of the industry transformation. I believe mobility will impact the life of people more and more. As we expect that in the future 70% of the global population will live in urban areas, mobility will be a key factor to improving citizens’ lives and giving the cities back to the people. These were the two main reasons. And honestly, I believe that PTV is at the heart of the transformation that is happening in the mobility world.

Another point that is important is focus. So PTV is very focused on software and has a very defined value proposition which is “we plan and optimise the movement of people and goods”, no systems integration or hardware. The mobility of the future is real-time software driven. I used to be asked as a systems integrator: Can you integrate this or that? The answer was yes most of the time, but then delivery was very difficult. PTV has a very clear business mind, very clear value proposition and product portfolio catering to a specific domain and segment.

compass: And when did you join us?

Andrea Petti: I started at the beginning of June as a Managing Director, India, the Middle East and Africa as a successor of Dr. Thomas Schwerdtfeger. As one of the founders of the company he will never completely step down. He will definitely stay in Dubai until mid  2019.

compass: What is your main task?

Andrea Petti: I have three key tasks: talents, targets and structure. Hiring and nurturing talents is a key task especially for a fast-growing organization like us. Achieving the budget and building sustainable growth is the second one. Bringing order and structure in the way we do things in the region which has grown dramatically in the last two years is the last one. My personal challenge is to fully capture the potential of the region and make PTV Group the leading optimisation company in India, the Middle East and Africa. The next important move is to open an office in Saudi Arabia and expand our footprint in other countries.

Andrea Petti leads the Middle East, Africa & India Region at PTV, focusing on the fast-growing segment of New Mobility Solutions as well as traffic and logistics management. He is very familiar with Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), with the visions and the trends of the ITS industry.

 Before his current assignment he had been leading the Intelligent Transport Systems Business Line globally for Ericsson since 2011. He holds a Master of Science in Business Administration at LUISS University in Rome.



Press release: PTV Group boosts footprint in Middle East (MENA)

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