Manon Molins: using data to serve mobility
Manon Molins is a campaigner for the personal data economy and co-manager with the French municipality of La Rochelle of MesInfos-Self Data Territorial, a project aimed at improving citizens’ mobility by pooling their personal data.
While still a relatively unknown concept, the personal data economy could well become key to improving daily urban life in the next few years. The idea is simple: individuals recover the personal data they create – from social media posts to data generated when dealing with local authorities or as customers of a business – and put it to use for their own benefit. Manon Molins is a personal data specialist: “The idea behind the personal data economy is to give people control over their personal data and reset the balance between public and private entities and individual citizens,” explains the dynamic 28 year-old. “If organisations are using this data for targeted advertising, or selling it, then it should also be possible to put it to work for the benefit of individual citizens, helping them with daily decisions about transport, for example. It can be used to drive apps and services that are accessible to everyone.”
Improving mobility in La Rochelle
After completing her degree in Economics and Political Science at the Sorbonne and studying Information Engineering at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (CNAM), Manon Molins began work in 2014 at FING (Fondation Internet Nouvelle Génération), a French think tank founded in 2000 with 250 members spanning big companies to start-ups, research laboratories and universities to local authorities as well as non-profit organisations. Its purpose is to exchange ideas and offer solutions “for digital creation with value for everyone”.
At FING, she was entrusted with managing the MesInfos project and subsequently Self Data Territorial. In partnership with the municipality of La Rochelle and the FabMob programme of the French Agency for Environment and Energy Management (ADEME), the project was launched in September 2018. One pillar consists in exploiting personal data to improve citizens’ sustainable mobility and carbon footprint.
The routes we take and even our smartphones’ geolocation generate significant volumes of data on a daily basis, which is held by private companies (Uber, Waze, BlaBlaCar, car manufacturers, insurance companies, telephone operators, etc.) and public organisations (transport operators, car parks, etc.). La Rochelle’s Self Data Territorial project aims to provide every citizen with access to his or her data. The idea is to know, for example, how much time and money is spent on different types of transport, from public transport to self‑service bike hire services, car-sharing and even parking.
Once collected, this mobility data would be cross-referenced with economic, health, ecological and other types of data to allow La Rochelle’s citizens to make better-informed choices and provide answers to questions such as: can I avoid buying a new car by using existing forms of public transport? What insurance is best suited to someone like me? Would I save more by buying a season ticket or single tickets for public transport? The result would be an effective tool for better decision-making, which would also simultaneously calculate the municipality’s carbon footprint to help reduce emissions or rethink mobility solutions in the area, to make them more efficient and inclusive.
Building the road to future mobility through personal data
By choosing to share their personal data with the municipality, citizens contribute to a more collective use of this information. This is a highly effective way of supplementing the data gathered through long and costly transport surveys conducted only once every ten years. “Pooling data from geolocation, public transport, car journeys, etc. will provide us with more precise and up-to-date information about the transport solutions citizens actually use,” says Manon Molins. This collective effort could lend insight into changes in air quality, allow for the development of combined vehicle insurance policies and more, while paving the way for numerous other innovations. Pooling data means towns, cities and their inhabitants could create a more collaborative public policy for improving their daily lives and mobility.