Exclusive Online-Only Article: OPTICITIES – paving the way for efficient urban mobility

20 October 2014  •  Author(s): OPTICITIES

OPTICITIES

OPTICITIES (www.opticities.com) is a project intending to develop and test interoperable ITS solutions in six different cities in order to provide urban citizens with the best possible journey conditions and to optimise urban logistics operations. The project started on 1 November 2013 and will last for three years with an overall budget of €13 million and co-funded by the European Commission within the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). OPTICITIES gathers 25 partners from across Europe (six cities, service providers, the car industry, research laboratories and major European networks). For Eurotransport, Mélanie Leroy – in charge of dissemination activities for the project, and Jean Coldefy – Deputy Head of the Urban Mobility Directorate in Grand Lyon (one of the partnering city conurbations), explains further how OPTICITIES will strive to pave the way towards smart urban mobility.

Madrid's traffic control centre

Madrid’s traffic control centre

Following 40 years of massive investment, connecting infrastructure networks has become a priority for cities to deal with urban population growth and stimulate economic development. The concepts of inter-modality, multi-modality and co-modality already existed in transport public policies in the 1990s, years before information and communication technologies allowed for the deployment of network management systems and user information services. While the impact of these investments has been positive, it is nevertheless modest. To make a real difference to a network and its users, long-term urban mobility objectives need strong and coordinated actions, involving a range of stakeholders representing every transport mode at local or regional level. At the same time, environmental and financial factors have placed significant constraints on building new transport infrastructure. As a result, a new approach has emerged, based on service innovation and the optimisation of existing transport networks to meet growing mobility demand. On the technological and societal issues, two major developments have had a big impact on mobility policies and the role of public and private stakeholders: free access to geo-localisation (thanks to GPS and Galileo technologies), and the large-scale dissemination of mobile internet through smartphones, providing European citizens with a whole new range of services. Enter OPTICITIES!  

Figure 1: Need for a standardised multi-modal urban data set

Figure 1: Need for a standardised multi-modal urban data set

The OPTICITIES vision: towards a smart urban mobility strategy

OPTICITIES partners are pushing for a smart urban mobility strategy using ITS to help tackle mobility challenges in European cities. This approach covers all modes of transport and sets out alternatives to make modal shift feasible, fostering cooperation among all urban mobility stakeholders.

The OPTICITIES project has drawn-up a vision for optimised urban mobility as the focal point of user needs, urban mobility public policy, and service providers’ business models. As part of this vision, European cities will consolidate all available data at local level, and make it available through a standardised gateway. This approach is supported by a cooperative partnership between private and public stakeholders. This ‘multi-modal dataset’ is made up of all transport mode data, incorporating all available formats, standards and timescales (historical, real-time, and predictive). With contractual agreement, any service provider or industry would be able to access the data to deliver high-quality services using sustainable business models, which would comply with urban public mobility policies.

Figure 2: OPTICITIES main activities

Figure 2: OPTICITIES main activities

To meet these objectives, OPTICITIES brings together public transport authorities, laboratories and private companies, enabling them to work in close cooperation on a number of major innovation breakthroughs, including:

Contractual architecture between private and public actors

Development of a contractual architecture between private and public actors for data access, data exchange and service provision is needed. Public authorities’ requirements, fair access to data and autonomous business models will be explored.

Consolidation of multiple sources of urban mobility data

Consolidation of multiple sources of urban mobility data from all modes (network topology; theoretical, real and predictive schedules) is needed, plus definition of a European standard for this multi-modal urban dataset and its interfaces between public authorities, network managers and service providers. Based on existing standards, this newly-defined standard will be implemented and tested in each city within the consortium: Birmingham, Gothenburg, Lyon, Madrid, Turin, and Wrocław. In particular, the trials in these cities will address the issue of standardised interfaces with several service providers.

Provision of real-time information for all modes

Provision of real-time information for all modes is needed and must be available anytime and anywhere: introducing the ‘multi-modal urban navigator’. This smartphone application offers advice on all available mobility solutions, covering factors such as time, money and CO2 emissions. This makes it possible to guide users before and during their trips, to facilitate a combination of different modes, and to promote modal shift. The introduction of real-time and mobile navigation functionality should foster new mobility habits and travelling behaviour. The provision of information will help assist, reassure and encourage users with alternative mobility solutions.

Service continuity

Service continuity between in-vehicle navigation systems and the multi-modal urban navigator is needed. Thanks to cooperation between the automotive industry operators, public authorities and service providers, this solution, based on cooperative systems, will offer a seamless travel management solution for users.

Optimisation of urban network exploitation

The optimisation of urban network exploitation is needed through the development of traffic prediction tools and their integration into traffic management systems, making it possible to provide predictive travel times across modes and proactive management of traffic lights based on one-hour traffic forecasts. This means congestion would be eased or even avoided, leaving more space on the roads for sustainable modes.

Integrated multi-modal management

Integrated multi-modal management through the development of a ‘multi-modal traffic control system’ is needed. This would connect road traffic and public transport data, and allow for better allocation of means to support mobility demand. This work includes the combination of datasets from multiple public transport operators in large cities.

Optimisation of urban freight management

The optimisation of urban freight management is needed by combining and processing real-time data to provide dedicated information services helping truck drivers and fleet operators optimise their delivery rounds. Truck-related traffic congestion is often caused by dysfunctional delivery practices or inadequate sharing of space, such as double-parking or illegal use of delivery bays, so the aim is to eliminate unnecessary travel or connections.

With the implementation of OPTICITIES tools, European cities will see a change in their daily mobility patterns, namely:

A modal shift from excessive exclusive car use

A modal shift from excessive exclusive car use towards a combination of modes and more eco-friendly modes will be seen thanks to the uptake of high-quality traveller information services: the multi-modal real-time urban navigator, the integration of in-car information systems with services based on individual devices, and a real-time car-pooling system increasing the occupancy rates of private cars. Travellers will be offered a recommended home-to-destination journey plan tailored to whichever mode of transport they would like to use. This will be updated according to real-time, planned and predicted traffic conditions on the network. In the event of an issue on the network, they will be able to modify their journey before setting off. This modal shift will decrease the environmental impacts of road traffic, and free-up public space currently occupied by private cars in European cities.

Development of sustainable business models for information services, independent from public funds

The development of sustainable business models for information services, independent from public funds will be seen by improving the quality, quantity and reliability of mobility data, and including high-quality information services (urban navigator for travellers and freight operators).

Reliable travel times

Reliable travel times through the use of high-quality decision support tools developed within OPTICITIES will be achieved (traffic management based on predictive information, integrated multi-modal management, and enhanced soft mode priority).

More efficient freight operations

More efficient freight operation will be seen with sustainable business models, saving freight operators hundreds of hours a month and improving traffic flow.

Better quality of life in urban centres

A better quality of life in urban centres will be established with less traffic and a reallocation of public space. This means safer roads, less stress (noise, crowded roads/vehicles), and more attractive cities, thanks to an efficient transport network and satisfied users.

Interoperable information systems

There will be an uptake of interoperable information systems for urban authorities, service providers and the car industry through cooperation within the project at technical and contractual levels. This interoperability – both contractual and technical – will foster the implementation of various service providers within a given city.

Today, the potential that ITS tools offer for tackling urban mobility issues is widely accepted. These tools turn data into the useful information upon which a large number of innovative services rely. They also raise questions about the role of public and private actors, and how they can work together.

Aiming high

The OPTICITIES partners are aiming high, hoping to provide inhabitants of Europe’s cities, and all those who travel and work in them, with the best possible journey conditions. Thanks to the cities, companies, the research institutes, the transport and city associations involved, there is great potential to develop the city of tomorrow together, using tools for better urban mobility in our digital economy era.

OPTICITIES project in Lyon

The French city of Lyon is participating in the OPTICITIES project

OPTICITIES: who’s involved?

The cities:

  • Lyon
  • Birmingham
  • Gothenburg
  • Madrid
  • Turin
  • Wrocław

Companies:

  • Volvo Trucks
  • CityWay
  • Hacon
  • Icca
  • Neurosoft
  • Spie
  • Algoé
  • HB Consult

Research Institutes:

  • University of Lyon/CNRS
  • Chalmers
  • Polito
  • UPM

Transport & City Associations:

  • EUROCITIES
  • ERTICO
  • UITP

Further Information…

The OPTICITIES project is going to work with a Stakeholders Platform which will be launched soon on the project website – interested experts are free to join.  Find out more information now by visiting www.opticities.com

Biography

Jean Coldefy, Senior ITS Expert

Jean Coldefy, Senior ITS Expert

Jean Coldefy is a Senior ITS Expert with more than 20 years of experience. A graduate in engineering from the Ecole Centrale, Jean is Deputy Head of the Urban Mobility Directorate in Grand Lyon. He has been involved in major ITS projects at European and national level, including the EasyWay programme, the French HGV EFC scheme, automatic speed enforcement, and the contractual and organisational interoperability of EFC in Europe. Jean is a Member of the Urban ITS Expert Group and was responsible for developing the guidelines on Multi-modal Information Services. He represents Grand Lyon at the ITS Advisory Group and is an Active Member of the French Committee on the ITS Directive. He is in charge of the city of Lyon’s urban ITS programme, OPTIMOD’LYON, focusing on traveller information through ITS and gathering 13 partners from industry and academia. Jean is now also in charge of OPTICITIES.

Biography

Mélanie Leroy, Project Coordinator for Mobility at EUROCITIES

Mélanie Leroy, Project Coordinator for Mobility at EUROCITIES

Mélanie Leroy has been the Project Coordinator for Mobility at EUROCITIES since 2009 and has been involved in European projects related to workplace travel plan (COMMERCE) or market segmentation methodology for mobility campaigns (SEGMENT). She was coordinator for the policy work in the EPOMM-PLUS project and was in charge of building transfers among countries and supporting training. Mélanie is representing EUROCITIES in the consortium of EPOMM, the European Platform on Mobility Management. She has also worked for the CIVITAS initiative by coordinating CIVITAS VANGUARD on publications and organising study tours. Mélanie is currently in charge of dissemination activities for the projects OPTICITIES and TIDE. She holds two Masters Degrees on European Public Policies from the Institute of Political Science of Strasbourg and on Sustainable Development with specialisation in sustainable urban transport.

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