Interview with Liight App, first prize of Desafío Aporta 2017

Date: 25-06-2018

Name: Santiago Jiménez y Carlos Rosety

Sector: Environment

Body, Institution or Company: Liight

Country: Spain

Liight App was the winner of Desafío Aporta 2017 with its application to gamify sustainability, encouraging those citizens who make efficient and sustainable use of resources. To this end, activities such as the use of public transport or recycling are rewarded through a virtual currency exchangeable for discounts and direct rewards.

We spoke with Santiago Jiménez and Carlos Rosety, the founder of this initiative, to tell us how they are carrying out this project.

Currently, at what point of Liight App development are you?

Currently, Liight has a product version on both Android and iOS, with the basic functionalities available and sufficient stability and robustness to start with the phase of user acquisition and growth (at the moment close to a thousand downloads in an organic way). Regarding the team, counting on the most advanced technical part covered, we are incorporating new profiles to reinforce the fields of communication, marketing, etc., in order to generate a community with the mission and values of the brand. Our goal is to improve different aspects related to the business plan, the technology-user relation and the client, in order to launch -investing, right now, in marketing- in September-October, coinciding with the "back to school" season.

In which information sources, public or private, is your project based on?

We use different sources to check and validate the veracity of the sustainable actions carried out (the use of the bus, the bike, the train, etc.). At this point, our product is unique, because there are competitors and other alternatives that likewise seek to encourage people to be more sustainable but without any verification, which can cause adverse effects or reward fakes actions such as the use of the vehicle or similar situations. To confirm the reduction of CO2 emissions, the Liight algorithm crosses different parameters obtained through the user's mobile sensors with public data, such as the route,  schedules, etc. of the different means of transport (Metro or Bus, for example).

We also use private data sources through the use of APIs under third-party permission and the collaboration with companies such as Ecoembes, among others; and even self-produced data sources collected by Liight's community such as the mapping of areas that did not have an existing digitized database.

Do you think that initiatives such as Desafío Aporta 2017 can help companies and entrepreneurs launch their open data reuse projects? What other initiatives of this kind do you think should be put into practice?

I think yes, accions of this kind help to give visibility and support to startups and solutions that suggest to give value and use these data whose mere storage, if it does not reach this second derivative, would be meaningless. Data analysis and use is a huge opportunity offered by the current moment, where you can sensorize, collect and publish or treat information instantly, very cheap and on a large scale. Data becomes a valuable resource to obtain value. If we return data to society in a treated, clean and useful way, we can achieve a great impact in our cities.

As a user of open data, what challenges have you found when reusing public information? How have you solved those challenges?

Sometimes we miss a standardization, perhaps, regarding the data format, since different homologous institutions (such as town halls or transport services) can have similar proposals regarding the concept but very different in their structure, so you have to adapt the tool in each case and apply correction factors to use them.

In other cases we find that there is a lot of information that is not digitized and therefore does not "exist" for its use, although the tendency is to collect and made data effective. In any case, the most important problem we have found is when there is a data but, for whatever reason, it is not updated or it is incorrect. In areas where accuracy at geolocation or temporal level is not essential, there is no problem. Even as the generation of more data layers progresses, data can be discovered, updated and corrected. But in other cases, for example, knowing exactly what the waiting time for my bus is, the user can assume that the information published is reliable and he can be frustrated if their expectations are not met, not because of technology or the tool but due to the basic information that may be wrong.

What actions do you consider that Spain should prioritize in terms of data provision?

Standardization is, of course, relevant at a city, country and even European level in order to speak the same "language" so any system can be scaled and useful. We know that measures are being taken in this direction, mesures that have been implemented in recent years, which is welcomed and congratulated. Providing quality, up-to-date and accurate data is also important.

At the end, they are resources and they have to fulfill certain characteristics. As with everything, if we build a bridge with a good design, a correct structural calculation and a correct execution, but the base material does not meet the specifications, it will probably come down. Or in the case of a restaurant, if the products and ingredients used are low quality, even when we have a good waitress or kitchen service, and although if we have a great chef, the final product eaten by customer will not be pleased.

Finally, what are your future plans? Are you immersed or have any other open data reuse project in mind?

As of today, in terms of mobility, Liight is operational in the Community of Madrid. Our idea is to deploy the technology that we have developed in other regions and cities where it can also receive a warm reception and impact on the welfare and reduction of pollution. In the field of recycling, we are also working with institutions and companies focused on smart-cites and sustainability, in projects that will see the light in the coming months. We are in a very exciting and demanding moment demanding for the development and growth of our startup, as well as the entire ecosystem, and more specifically within the smart-city sector.