Session Report: Smart, green and integrated transport

Smart, green and integrated transport

Parallel session, Tuesday, 24th September 2013, 09:30-12:30

Chair: Aura Reggiani, University of Bologna, Italy – Intro PDF
Rapporteur: Peter Tindemans, Euroscience
Statement: Maria Attard, University of Malta
Statement: Peter Nijkamp, Free University Amsterdam, Netherlands
Statement: Alessandro Damiani European Commission, Belgium (PDF)

1. Statements by Aura Reggiani (Moderator), Maria Attard, Peter Nijkamp

In her introductory remarks Aura Reggiani raised three important substantial issues: complexities in transportation networks with issues such as dynamical aspects, connectivity and accessibility, or resilience versus vulnerability; the need to consider the global aspects next to the European ones; and various perspectives such as methodological ones, varying needs reflecting geographical and socio-economic contexts or empirical data as to how much SSH are effectively ‘embedded’.

Maria Attard first highlighted the current policy discourse on the energy and environmental burden of transport and the safety issues, bottlenecks and urban mobility. However these hardly tackle the need for modal shift, the changing nature of cities, and the changing lifestyles. The role of SSH research is to put centre stage the user needs. That includes the limits of transferability of good practices, increasing quality of life as a key, culture-specific goal, and the way European R&D can support solutions elsewhere in the world.

Peter Nijkamp took the long-term view, starting from the conviction that transport is a ‘derived demand’. An SSH approach is thus inevitable. Physical flows are being complemented or substituted by virtual information transfer. Understanding the economics, the spatial-economic impacts, or the demand-satisfying aspects of these new flows requires SSH research.

2. SSH in Current Version of Work Programme 2014 (to the extent known)

Alessandro Damiani (EU representative) mentioned that for the EC transport and SSH are an inseparable duo witness issues such as modal shift, private-public cooperation low CO2 solutions. In the current draft of the Work Programme for 2014 key SSH issues are addressed: data, models and scenarios; user needs and user behaviour; transport economics; policy support. One sign of the importance of the importance of the policy dimension is that the management of the socio-economic parts of the Horizon 2020 Programme will not be outsourced to Executive Agencies.

3. Summary of Discussion and Way Forward

It is clear that the possibilities to substantially change the 2014 Work Programme are limited. So it is vital to sketch a medium- and longer term perspective that can influence future Work Programmes.

A three-pronged approach, representing both three levels of increasing integration of SSH disciplines into current mainstream transport research and successive phases of such integration, might be useful.

1) The current Work Transport Programme 2014 seems to be technology and supply side driven, with only a (very) light orientation to SSH research for policy support and for the behavioural perceptions of the new technological/transport changes. Smart cities are for example dealt with – to some extent – in the Energy Programme rather than in the Transport Programme; demand aspects similarly get some attention in other Programmes. More can be done  as will be indicated in Section 4.

2) In a next stage and at a next level user needs should be put centre stage. ‘Derived’ as they all are, a distinction should be made between individual needs, and collective needs, whether from society as a whole or from urban configurations which may form a very fruitful nexus for investigating these evolving and dynamic needs. Several research perspectives will be valuable: observations (e.g. needs of an ageing population), understanding (psychology, sociology, law, economics), or design. The latter relates to the importance of adopting a complex systems perspective before trying to identify solutions (modal shifts, cross-border solutions, virtual substitutions, etc). Also the changing position of Europe in the world over the next decades must be factored in: what will it mean that Europe will have only 5% or so of the world’s population? What constraints or opportunities does Europe have? What is the transferability of best practices? What differences are imposed by geographical conditions?

3) The longer-term view focuses on the radical perspective: whereas the previous two phases are still firmly anchored in a physical view of transportation, the longer-term perspective looks at the virtual world that is emerging rapidly. Of course, this is not a world that only emerges for the transportation dimension of our societies. Also, the virtual world will not replace physical worlds. Research provides indications that cyberspace seems to replicate physical worlds to a considerable degree. But there is no doubt that transportation (linked to communication) demands of people and collectives are changing dramatically given the virtual communication possibilities we already have and will get.

Peter Nijkamp mentioned several research challenges which will be important in each of the three phases (but, of course, not only for transportation):

  • Virtual transportation and economic flows
  • Digital infrastructure
  • Security and privacy issues
  • Contingency management
  • Advanced logistics
  • Physical and virtual connectivity
  • Global position of cities
  • Virtuality and sustainable mobility

4. Suggestions for Work Programme 2014

Participants were asked to give their key suggestions for the Work Programme 2014:

  • Introduce the global dimension next to the current focus on Europe
  • Start research on the complex systems approach
  • Start activities to educate technicians and engineers, as well as politicians, in the importance of adopting broader approaches, including integrating SSH research, to transportation issues
  • Emphasize more the socio-behavioural dimension, also with reference to accessibility and travel time values concerning the new transport technologies for different population segments
  • Put a customer-producer approach centre stage instead of a pure producer-led one
  • Add the timeline to the research questions identified: there is a large difference between short-term, medium-term and long-term questions (such as global, virtual cities, refitting cities, how to increase degrees of freedom and options flexibility)
  • Start already at this stage some preliminary investigations into the demand side (see Phase 2 above).




Chair: Aura Reggiani, University of Bologna, Italy

Rapporteur: Peter Tindemans, Secretary General Euroscience, The Netherlands

Statement: Maria Attard, University of Malta, Malta

Statement: Peter Nijkamp, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Statement: Alessandro Damiani, DG Research, Transport Research-Horizontal Aspects, European Commission, Brussels, Belgium

Session Participants:

  • Renée van Kessel-Hagesteijn, Dir SSH, NWO, The Netherlands
  • Elisabetta Croci Angelini, University of Macerata, Italy
  • Monique Van Donzel, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  • Andrew Sors, Head of Office, EuroTech Universities Brussels Office, Belgium
  • Neil Forbes, Coventry University’s Director of Research, Coventry University, UK
  • Emilia Araujo, University of Minho, Portugal

For more information on the Horizon 2020 work programme and call dates: