In a world where petrol is growing ever more expensive and gas-guzzling cars are looked at with a sort of snobbish disparagement, new ways of getting around are beginning to emerge and become a priority for many. One such method is car-sharing, and new research has found that car-sharing can become even more popular.
Researchers from the Concordia Institute of Information Systems Engineering have piloted a new computer model that helps determine how car-sharing services can grow, maximize customer satisfaction, and still be profitable.
“Given car-sharing’s goal of reducing congestion and carbon emissions, our work represents a potential boost to environmental sustainability,” explains Anjali Awasthi, assistant professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, who, prior to arriving at Concordia in 2008, had spent time research car-sharing services in Europe.
“I wanted to apply the lessons I’d learned overseas to the Montreal region,” she added.
Working together with her master’s student, Ahmed Al Fassi, Awasthi used car-sharing company Communauto (commune auto, presumably) as her basis. The two assessed which areas had the greatest growth potential in Montreal based on a variety of factors, such as population density and customers’ proximity to existing stations. They simulated the response to various growth scenarios to measure the potential impact on individual car-sharing stations, the level of activity among Communauto’s members, and the availability of cars to meet customer demand.
For Communauto, the scholarly research was a great boost. “The expertise and input of Professor Awasthi and Ahmed Al Fassi allowed us to improve the analysis necessary to determine our growth strategy,” says Communauto’s director of development and public relations, Marco Viviani. “This was the first step that we hope will lead to a long-term collaboration, which will be particularly helpful as we grow into new markets overseas.”
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