17-11-2020

Useful insights about public-private cooperation in TM2.0, despite the pandemic

After three years of close cooperation, the pilots in the SOCRATES2.0 project will be rounded off at the end of the year, followed by an evaluation and consolidation phase. ‘While we couldn’t carry out everything as planned due to the coronavirus pandemic, we could do most of it, and we certainly gained a lot of knowledge,’ says project manager Tiffany Vlemmings. She also outlined this during the ITS Virtual congress this week. 

Improving mobility in the European Union was the shared goal of the road authorities, service providers and car manufacturers involved in this project. They intended to achieve a cleaner, more efficient and safer flow of traffic by closer public-private cooperation. For this, the consortium tested innovative services in the cities of Amsterdam, Antwerp,  Copenhagen and Munich

‘Of course, the coronavirus had an influence, and we couldn’t do all the tests as planned,’ says Vlemmings, ‘but, in the end, we’ll be able to answer the majority of the questions we had.’

Less traffic

The project was delayed for half a year when it became clear that the pandemic had a significant impact on the amount of traffic. ‘There was a 60 to 70 per cent drop in traffic in all the pilot cities,’ the project manager continues. ‘When the lockdown became less severe, we had hopes that the pilots could continue as planned after the summer. But, of course, traffic is still not back to its previous levels. It’s likely to stay like this next year, as we’ll probably be working from home for a while.’

While the pilots in Amsterdam and Antwerp had already started at the end of 2019, the test phase in Copenhagen and Munich was slated to begin last spring, right when the pandemic hit. In Munich, the use case called Smart Destination was designed to deliver smart traffic and navigation services to road users visiting the Allianz Arena and the Munich Trade Fair.

‘Luckily, although all events have been cancelled since the spring, we could still carry out the core of the tests with the help of so-called friendly users,’ says Vlemmings. The means it’s possible to evaluate the public-private cooperation from an organisational and technical perspective.

Behaviour and added value

As part of the ongoing Smart Tunnel Service in the Antwerp pilot, motorists are offered toll reduction vouchers. This system helps to improve the distribution of traffic over the two river crossings. ‘Even with less traffic, we are still issuing vouchers, so we are gathering quite a lot of data here and will still be able to measure the impact of the service in Antwerp,’ says Vlemmings.

The pilot will answer various questions, she explains, including the extent to which people adjust their behaviour when they get rewards. ‘We’re now trying to figure out how to put these kinds of incentives into practice on the business side. Authorities can, for example, opt to pay service providers so they can reach goals regarding safety, accessibility and the environment.’

Vlemmings is also proud of the insights gained during the use case Optimising Network Traffic Flow in the Amsterdam and Copenhagen pilots. ‘Public and private organisations developed several new intermediary functions and services for end-users. This way, they can add value for all: motorists, the service provider and the road authority.’

Even, now there’s much less traffic on the road, the partners can deploy and test these functions and services. Vlemmings: ‘We learn when and why people are willing to follow route advice and how to apply these mechanisms in business models.’

How to collaborate

The partners also gained a lot of experience in working together over the past few years. They developed a cooperation framework on organising public-private collaborations in traffic information services. ‘Experiences in the four pilot cities show that this collaboration appears to have good application potential,’ says Vlemmings.

The consortium has the experience now on how to collaborate both organisationally and technically. It’s clear which roles are needed and what works well and what doesn’t. ‘However, we still need to evaluate the governance of the different roles, while taking into account the fact that the cultural situation is different in the four pilot cities.’

Follow-up plan

From January onwards, the partners will work on the evaluation of the SOCRATES2.0 project, followed by the consolidation phase. “And of course, we’ll need to agree on what we will do after SOCRATES2.0,’ the project manager says.

The consortium wants to make sure all of the acquired knowledge and experience is clear and available to all of the partners. ‘We’ll also translate it into concrete actions. That way, we can benefit fully from our work, and we can continue to develop the knowledge in future projects.’

Dissemination

Besides evaluating the acquired knowledge and the business side of the project, the partners will also focus on the products and services developed. ‘Some of these turned out to be very useful and are applicable in real life,’ says Vlemmings. Furthermore, the partnership plans to disseminate the knowledge and learning experiences to other stakeholders who deal with traffic management, she emphasises.

At the virtual ITS Virtual Congress (9-10 November 2020), the SOCRATES2.0 partners shared some of the insights gained during the project. They spoke about how to enhance the quality of road works data by public-private cooperation. Furthermore, they explained when and how to achieve a win-win-win for all stakeholders in the ecosystem and to translate this into new business models.

Furthermore the following papers have been written:

In spring, the results of the project will be published at a dedicated SOCRATES2.0 conference. Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates on this conference and other SOCRATES2.0 news.