At Zipabout, we’ve built our entire business model on an ethical foundation of data privacy. We believe that a business can serve consumers successfully without the need to track a user’s location, invade their privacy or exploit their personal data. At its very core, this method of data mining is outdated, invasive and unethical – and consumers are really starting to wake up and smell the coffee in regard to their privacy.
The landscape of digital is changing rapidly, further propelled by the imminent death of third-party cookies and stricter privacy regulations. With this in mind, customer-focussed businesses must adapt their approach to ethically connect with their consumers and avoid alienating those who are fed up with feeling tracked and monitored in everything they do online.
There are many misconceptions of how data is collected and used, such as the theory that simply looking at a Facebook logo will suddenly offer up all your personal data. Although we utilise Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp channels to operate our personalised information service, we’ve opted to act differently when it comes to data.
While most online platforms still don’t respect their customer data as they should, we put this at the forefront of everything we do. Depending on which channel a passenger is using, the only thing we have access to is a phone number and journey details, and the only thing we’re picking up on is behavioural travel habits – something we use to inform our forecasting and predictions of future transport patterns.
We don’t know your name, your age, your address, your location, your mother’s maiden name, your first pet’s name…or any of the usual unnecessary details you have to provide. Customers also don’t need to set up another account to use our services as they’re delivered through channels they already have for communicating with friends and family – so there’s no need for any complex account setups or password settings. We don’t sell third party data or customer’s personal data to advertisers either; something that is still far too common and not at all essential for effective retail advertising.
To plan a journey and gain access to live travel information, passengers simply need to opt in via their chosen channel or scan a QR code at a bus or train station. Once they’re in, they’ll receive real-time travel updates, busyness alerts and on-the-go rewards that are tailored to their journey. It’s really that easy. No tracking thanks to our patent-pending predictive technology. No invasion of privacy. No excessive data storage.
For too long, apps have been one of the major culprits in storing and selling third party data. Most apps require an account setup and utilise push notifications to keep usage up. And while apps are user-friendly and convenient on the surface, they’re also tracking a user’s every move; from listening in on conversations and feeding unwanted ads to your device, to tracking your heart rate and steps to sell your data to health insurance companies. Regardless of purpose, apps store personal details for a reason – most of which are not ethically sound. Fortunately, the toxic process of having everything tracked is beginning to dwindle.
At Zipabout, we don’t agree with large companies pulling the wool over the eyes of the public. When a passenger uses our services, we only use the bare essentials because that’s all we need to know to help them get from A to B. Take our soon-to-be-launched Local offering – a service that local authorities can adopt to meet not only the transport needs of their residents and visitors, but their own ambitious net zero targets. This is a product that allows entire towns and cities to better understand transport behaviour in their area through insights and trends, without using any apps or sensitive personal data.
Although we currently use SMS, Messenger and WhatsApp to service customers, other channels are absolutely on our roadmap. One of the reasons we went down the SMS route originally was to ensure we were utilising platforms that respect user privacy. This gave travellers a choice of how they wanted to access transport information. And we’re not finished adding channels to our portfolio yet.
A big USP of ours is that we are channel agnostic, so adding channels such as RCS, Signal and Telegram – to name a few – is relatively easy. Ultimately, we take the messaging to where the users are.
Stop reinventing the wheel when it comes to net zero transport. Councils should instead look to the tech sector to forge a new data-driven path to decarbonisation.
With its messaging numbers now soaring into the millions each month, UK rail has fundamentally changed the way transport operators engage with passengers, to the benefit of all.
All UK train operators already have free access to the Zipabout journey planning system - and it truly is all singing and all dancing.