How international teamwork is driving Europe’s mobility solutions

Mon, 2017-02-20 20:03 -- Milo Vergucht

They are all in different countries, but seven of Europe’s cities have one key thing in common: they have a transportation problem. And even though the root causes are different—some are motivated by climate change, others are struggling with rapid population growth—they are making progress by working together to find solutions.

Below, you will read more about the Sharing Cities consortium, part of a larger effort to bring European cities together with technology leaders to find real solutions to the issues. I am inspired by the collaboration and progress that I am seeing. If you would like to play a role on the Transport and Mobility Task Force. 

On February 3rd, the Sharing Cities consortium and Smart Cities Council Europe gathered executives from the cities of Milan, Lisbon, London, Warsaw, Bordeaux, Burgas and Budapest and industry leaders guests that support the Transport and e-Mobility sector to review common city needs and present innovative solutions in a frank and open market-sounding workshop. 

Sharing Cities is an EU funded Horizon 2020 “Lighthouse project” in which six major European cities are working together to demonstrate innovative solutions in the domains of energy, transport and integrated city infrastructures. By fostering international collaboration between industry and cities, the project seeks to develop affordable, integrated, commercial-scale smart city solutions with a high market potential. It aims to trigger €500 million in investment and to engage over 100 municipalities across Europe.

City challenges
While Lisbon houses only 500.000 inhabitants, the city welcomes up to 50.000.000 tourists each year, which puts a big pressure on the urban mobility. For the mayor of London improving the air quality is a top concern and to support that, they are deploying an important e-bike initiative and launching a pilot project with autonomous driving e-shuttles. Bordeaux will create a low emission zone in 2017, whereas Warsaw plans a substantial investment in electrification of busses, with the aim to have 130 electric/hybrid busses by 2030.

In summary, the main common challenges for participating cities are to enhance the air quality by reducing CO2 emissions and to improve the inner-city mobility. At the same time, urban millennials are no longer interested in owning cars, but expect from the city a flexible and affordable transportation service.  Therefore, cities have to develop smart transportation solutions, offering mobility as a service, with (ideally) zero carbon emissions.

Technology solutions
Fortunately, technology offers many solutions to build such a smart transportation service, which is attractive to use and improves the inner-city mobility for citizens, workers, businesses and visitors. Ensuring interoperability between different transportation services, by adopting open standards and open integration architecture, will offer maximum flexibility to users, and increase adoption. Collecting data from payment systems, GPS devices and roadway sensors, allows for real-time analysis and optimisation of the different transportation services and means.

Council partners Itron, Brocade and UL took part in this first meeting, and have confirmed their commitment to support the initiative. Itron will use its core competencies (measurement, embedded communications and collection software) to help build a "no regrets" technology platform, compatible with the cities’ future needs and developments. UL believes that standardisation, interoperability testing and the appropriate level of security will help ensure that new technologies are considered safe and secure and adopted by users. Brocade will showcase how technology frameworks can provide specific solutions to city’s challenges, by improving range, reliability and scalability.

Transport and Mobility Task Force
Moving forward, the Smart Cities Council and its partners will work closely together with the cities and provide best-in-class resources (e.g. Readiness Guide), knowledge about the newest technologies and tailor-made support (e.g. Readiness Workshops) to co-create urban environments that provide clean, healthy living conditions without pollution and traffic congestion. Industry partners that are interested to take part in the Transport and Mobility Task Force can contact: