Simply Connect at the Orkney International Science Festival
We are Simply Connect, and we are in Orkney over the Science Festival to run software tests of our transport service.
We will also giving a talk on Thursday 11th September, at 3:30pm in King Street Halls, Kirkwall, entitled Rural transport: how technology can offer a sustainable future. Read more about the festival talk here.
Thank you to those who have helped us out over the festival so far! Following our trials this week, we will also be doing some further multi-vehicle trials in the coming 2-3 weeks, building in the feedback we have received this week. We are therefore looking for any other volunteers who would be interested in getting involved in helping organise and take part in further trials in the next 2-3 weeks. Please get in touch if you think you might be able to help in this way. You can contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch on Facebook.
More About Us
We have been developing both the software platform and business approaches to provide an on-demand public transport service. With Simply Connect, you book a journey at short notice and our software routes vehicles automatically to pick you up and take you where you need to go. We think we have a world-leading approach that addresses concerns found in rural areas, like commerciality and ability to operate on lower speed mobile networks. Our approach is to develop community-owned businesses, in a way that includes local transport operators and the places that people want to go to.
Last year we won the first ever place on an accelerator program with Exeter City Futures in England. In Exeter, we carried out a single-vehicle trial to carry people to and from work. This was a great success, we had very good feedback from our passengers, and we learnt a lot. We now want to practically test our software with multiple vehicles during the Science Festival period in September.
Neil Brown, CEO, devised many of the original ideas by looking at how public transport currently works: what works well and what could be improved. He wanted to find what it would take to get from where we are now to an ideal transport system: one that offered ease of use and flexibility for the user, reduced the emissions of carbon dioxide attributed to transport, and provided strong social benefits. Neil's ideas were initially prompted by several years that he spent in Africa, where he experienced a wide range of informally-organised, yet efficient, transport.
Galen, CTO, developed from scratch the technology that underpins Simply Connect, as well as pushing a vision that sees Simply Connect excelling in a more community-focussed light. Galen went to Stromness Academy, where he was a winner at the EU Contest for Young Scientists 2007 for developing an energy saving device aimed at minimising energy wasted by televisions left on standby. Galen has an MSc in computer science from the University of St Andrews.
As well as trialling in Exeter, Simply Connect has had funding from both Innovate UK and the Department for Transport to develop its system. If widely adopted, the Simply Connect system would see a significant reduction in the number of cars on the road and their associated emissions, as well as helping large numbers of people get around if they don't currently have a car.
Simply Connect's longer-term approach is for a locally-owned community company to operate the mobility platform. We will use the trials, and feedback received, to explore the value of this approach in rural areas.
The Simply Connect team was based in Orkney for many years. Orkney Islands Council wishes us well with the trials.