Malcolm and Malcolm on Modelling
What does the SYSTRA-JMP-SIAS integration mean for Paramics microsimulation?
Malcolm Calvert and Malcolm Neil from SIAS are two men who know a thing or two about modelling. In the second of two interviews, Malcolm N finds out from Malcolm C what he thinks the forthcoming integration of SYSTRA-JMP-SIAS means for Paramics microsimulation.
MN: Could you tell us more about how you became Director of Paramics?
MC: I joined SIAS in 2004 and got straight into microsimulation modelling using Paramics and really enjoyed it. It was innovative and cutting edge. After a secondment at Transport Scotland for a couple of years, I then returned to SIAS. I’ve always enjoyed working with people and so joined the training team, ending up managing the training and support services we provide. Around four years ago the company needed someone to lead the software division; I put myself forward and have been doing that ever since. It’s a bit different from where I started out, but it’s been very rewarding.
MN: Do you see the integration between SYSTRA, JMP and SIAS influencing Paramics product development planning and delivery?
MC: In many ways it’ll be similar to what it’s been in the past few years. We’ve developed various systems and procedures for identifying what we want to do in a particular version then going through cycles of testing to make sure we deliver a product that’s a standard our users expect. We’ve had a close working relationship between the modellers and Paramics and SIAS has lent itself to that relationship. I’ve always seen that as critical to developing a product in a way that is ultimately beneficial to users. Integration will give us access to other types of modellers and a broader user base, maybe working in different parts of the world as well.
MN: SIAS has tried to define best practice through training and support. Will this change?
MC: We’ve produced good practice guides, training materials and we have a support centre with knowledgebase articles. I see the training and support being vital to a successful business and am keen to keep that as a key selling point of Paramics. Ultimately if users struggle to use the product, then they’re not going to continue applying it, so investing in training and support means Paramics has a long shelf life. There will also be opportunity to draw on experience by colleagues SYSTRA and JMP to improve what we already offer.
MN: From a software development point of view it’s very much business as usual, but more opportunity to tap into experience from SYSTRA and JMP?
MC: Yes, it’s very much business as usual for software development. We’ve got the same software team working on the product and that will continue. We’re based in Edinburgh, that’s been our base for Paramics for 20 years. We’ve got all the same personnel doing the same things, so there’s a strong continuity as we go through this integration.
MN: How will the increased knowledge from SYSTRA and JMP colleagues enhance the software?
MC: SYSTRA and JMP have modelling experience in different markets, so we’ll be able to understand more what those markets might need, whether it’s in development planning or at the more strategic end. The companies use different products (some seen as competing) but I see that as a positive thing, something that we can learn from. There’s a global aspect to it too; with microsimulation you’re very conscious of traffic and human behaviour by trying to model the individual component. SYSTRA has a presence all over the world, so we’d be interested to explore what Paramics might look like in other countries.
MN: What’s next for Paramics microsimulation?
MC: We’re at a really exciting point in the Paramics journey, having just released a new version of Paramics Discovery. It has more functionality than our original product, S-Paramics. Our customers are adopting it and we’re getting great feedback. We want to keep driving Paramics Discovery, keeping pace with where the market is going; particularly around new technologies such as driverless cars, vehicle to vehicle communication or heavy vehicles platooning. SYSTRA’s public transport and light rail expertise is an area that we could help develop further.
MN: It sounds like integration has been perfectly timed in terms of the journey that Paramics is on.
MC: With Paramics Discovery, the foundations are built and it’s ready to develop into a fantastic product. It’s a great time to have a respected and successful business like SYSTRA coming in; a company with a global footprint and ability to tap into other resources, like marketing, which in a small business is limited, so that will really help Paramics.
Malcolm Calvert is Paramics Director and Malcolm Neil is an Associate with SIAS, both based in Edinburgh.