The transition to sustainable transport is a major challenge for many regions of Europe, one that could be significantly supported with the use of ICT, sensing systems, and big data. Monitoring, recording and assessing transport data can help to significantly improve the use of current infrastructure and transport networks, as well as inform policy-making to identify priority interventions and inform citizens so that they can make sustainable transport choices.

The project

The CISMOB project (‘Cooperative information platform for low carbon and sustainable mobility’) under the leadership of the University of Aveiro (Portugal), has brought together partners from Portugal, Romania, Spain, and Sweden to share good practices and experience on using ICT to improve regional mobility by better understanding and managing transport flows and improve policies in three of the participating countries.

“In the different regions of the CISMOB project, the use of digitisation and ICT tools in the transport sector was a common objective, but these tools were not properly framed in regional policy instruments,” explained Jorge Bandeira, from the University of Aveiro. “With CISMOB, we brought together stakeholders and policymakers to discuss the role of ICT in different ways, systemise the information and provide regions with ICT based solutions to improve the efficiency and sustainability in the use of transport networks based on ICT.”

“CISMOB has been instrumental in changing our regional policies,” added Bandeira. “It has enabled us to bring together stakeholders from different backgrounds to speak the same language, increased professional skills, and supported the definition of ambitious but realistic objectives in our policy instruments.”

In Portugal

CISMOB has directly led to the improvement of two policy instruments: the Structural Funds Operational Programme for the Centro Region, and the Sustainable Mobility Strategy for the Municipality of Agueda (located in Centro). As well as the University of Aveiro, the Municipality of Agueda has also directly participated as a partner and both parties working to engage their stakeholder groups.

For the Operational Programme (OP) of the Centro Region, the Managing Authority has adopted more realistic CO2 criteria for project proposals and given additional impetus for projects based on open-data, real-time information systems and citizen assistive technologies, thanks to the policy-learning process of the CISMOB project.

A pilot action on real-time information for public transport has also been implemented in the region, specifically in Cantanhede and Penacove, in order to understand the preference of users, recognising different socio-economic factors. In both cases, the partners have highlighted the influence of the CISMOB good practices Opendata Cáceres, Trafiklab, Timisoara Public Transport Management System and Urban ICT Arena.

The Sustainable Mobility Strategy for the Municipality of Agueda is being improved, largely, through the creation of a new OpenTripPlanner and a number of projects in the framework of the ‘Águeda [email protected] City Lab’, a 44.3 hectare living lab in the city centre. These include:

  • Incorporating sensors and communication technologies into reentable electric bikes to monitor levels of air pollution (influenced by Sweden’s NotBoring Bikes), which will inform the city’s transport strategy;
  • Improving the city’s urban transport hub through installation of real-time information systems that let passengers know about the availability of public transport, bikes and e-vehicles;
  • Pilots of a car sharing platform, and an urban city shuttle for people with reduced mobility.

In Romania

The Structural Funds Regional Operational Programme (targeting all Romanian regions) has been improved thanks to the participation in CISMOB of Intelligent Transport Systems Romania and the Bucharest-Ilfov Community Development Association for Public Transport.

After exchanges in the project, the region’s Action Plan of Bucharest-Ilfov region was adopted in 2018 by the OP’s Managing Authority, the Ministry for Rural Development. It has four main actions: increasing the share of public transport in cities through ICT systems and services; promotion of measures to support cycling and associated services based on ICT tools; a green and connected public transport fleet; and contribution to the development of the future policy framework.

To begin implementing this, the OP was changed to enable electronic ticketing projects to be funded that covered urban cores and their surrounding areas, whereas projects had previously been limited to city boundaries only. This means that satellite towns and settlements can be covered by new projects, improving linkages with city centres. Inspiration for this came from Stockholm’s practices, including Resplus combined ticketing.

This has resulted in new project proposals being submitted from Bucharest and surrounding towns, Voluntari and Chitila, with Bucharest-Ilfov Community Development Association for Public Transport developing a strategic study for implementing real-time traveller information systems and integrated electronic ticketing for the full Bucharest-Ilfov region.

In Spain

The Extremadura Energy Agency (AGENEX) has focused on improving the European Regional Development Fund OP for the region in co-operation with other project partners and its regional stakeholder group. This collaboration has informed the creation of the Strategy for boosting electromobility on Extremadura, which includes the use of ICT to facilitate the use of charging infrastructure by interoperable charging point networks.

To support this, the OP has been modified so that more than 75% of funds under sustainable urban mobility, around six million EUR, are focused on achieving the strategy’s aims. Although the OP had a specific objective on sustainable urban mobility, the region had no policy framework that co-ordinated actions in this field. This has now changed, with sustainable transport included in regional plans, particularly the framework ‘Extremadura 2030’.

Lessons learned

Beyond the benefits for the CISMOB regions, Bandeira noted a number of lessons for other regions to learn from the project:

  1. Make a detailed report of your baseline scenario, identifying your main weaknesses and opportunities. This really contributes to anticipating the effectiveness and potential of the good practice transfer;
  2. Stimulate discussion and debate in stakeholder meetings, for example, through small parallel discussion groups. From our experience, this discussion method was vital in designing a successful pilot action;
  3. It’s important to consider user experience. Simulate a project application under your policy instrument, from beginning of application to implementation, to identify potential barriers at the levels of the policy instrument, institutional management, and stakeholder engagement. This will help you to identify where intervention is needed.

To find out more about CISMOB, visit the project website, see their inspirational good practices, and explore their studies and Action Plans.

Photo credit: Olezzo on envato elements