SOCRATES project and the Corona virus
As a result of the Corona virus outbreak and the so-called “lockdowns” in all four SOCRATES pilot cities (Amsterdam, Antwerp, Copenhagen and Munich), the pilots have come to a temporary halt. Traffic in some cities has fallen by more than 50% since mid-March, and no major events will take place until September this year.
For the project, this came at the worst possible time. After months of preparations, the first user experiences were gained within 4 use cases. The use cases should also have been operational during the months of March to June.
Extension until mid-2021
The project partners are all keen to convert the investments that they have already made into the project into relevant and complete results. After consultation, it was therefore decided that all partners opt to apply for an extension of the project to the European Commission until mid-2021. In addition, the partners did not go overnight. An extension means freeing up people and resources to keep the project going on for a longer period. It proves once again the dedication and perseverance of all partners involved.
Traffic situation normalization
With the choice to extend the project, we have assumed that the traffic situation will normalize to some extent in the autumn and that the pilots can be resumed. In particular, the evaluation of technical and organizational aspects can already take place. Space is now also created for the functional evaluation by postponing the project deadline.
Learn as much as possible
Of course, it is still unknown how the Corona crisis develops and to what extent pilots can or cannot be resumed. Depending on the course of the Corona crisis, we can have the tests take place as far as possible (with or without a slightly modified form) in the autumn of 2020. The intention of the project, namely to learn as much as possible in the field of public private cooperation for interactive traffic management, is thus maximized.
Also with the extension of the project it remains uncertain whether we will be able to test the use case smart destination. This use case was not yet active in March and is scheduled for testing in Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Munich. This use case would be tested at a number of pre-selected large-scale events, in order to improve accessibility at events with smart traffic and navigation services. But it is uncertain whether events in these cities can take place in 2020 due to Corona measures.
And every disadvantage has its advantage. Fortunately, we have also been able to make use of the last weeks to implement some technical changes to the various use cases and to further fine-tune the cooperation between the various intermediaries (which facilitate public-private partnerships). A functional development was already planned for the use case environmental zones and the use case optimizing network traffic flow. These functional additions now have sufficient time and attention, so that they are immediately available to the test users when the services are restarted in autumn.
Also, there is now time to get started with the consolidation of the project. Three focus groups have been started, each taking on a different part of the consolidation. The partners will work on the lessons learned from the pilots and a translation into a guide for local and national consolidation. But we are also looking at how we can share the knowledge and results gained in the international field. Finally, a third group elaborates the possible cooperation models and related opportunities for business models.
You can still register
Participants can still register to test the services. Go to socrates2.org/register and choose one of the four pilot cities. We hope that the traffic demand has recovered sufficiently from September onwards, so that we can still retrieve nice user experiences. We can use your help! You’re very welcome to register and participate in the pilots.