Urban mobility is one of the biggest challenges cities are facing. 53 percent of the world’s population live in urban areas and this percentage is likely to continue to increase in the coming decades. Past and current solutions will not be suitable any more in a new scenario where both technologies and user needs are subject to a continuous and speedy metamorphosis. That is why ensuring efficient mobility of people and goods is so important. The future of mobility needs to encompass a clear sustainability component, which embraces the environmental and the social needs of tomorrow.
At ERTICO, we believe that the deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) in cities is imperative to solve mobility issues. Extending the urban infrastructure and building new roads is very expensive and difficult, especially in old and crowded European cities with very limited space. The implementation of new intelligent transport solutions on an existing infrastructure can provide consistent advantages to the cities, limiting the cost, land-take and disruption of users’ mobility that new road works could cause.
However, most cities are still not prepared to tackle these mobility challenges, probably due to the lack of coordination between stakeholders when providing mobility services and the lack of a clear vision on how urban mobility systems should look like in the future. This is why cross-sectorial cooperation among public and private stakeholders is essential for overcoming the obstacles lying ahead.
There is a long way to go, but everything suggests that we are at the dawn of a new mobility revolution. Many cities in Europe are currently reconsidering their urban structure and management as well as rethinking the transport system as a network of intermodal and inter-connected services, placing the customer at its centre. The technology available for these changes includes 5G, digital broadcast, ITS G5 and cloud-based services.
The need to reduce congestion, accidents and pollution while improving the mobility of citizens, including an aging population and people with disabilities, are the driving forces of this change of thinking. Finally, the economic reasons behind the take-off of information and communication technology (ICT) in road transport refer to the fact that ITS is the cheapest and most effective way to sustain mobility.
Several years ago, ERTICO launched the “ITS for Urban Mobility” initiative to facilitate the dialogue between public city authorities and the industry. This initiative has now grown into the integration of cities in the ERTICO Partnership. The cities of Vigo (Spain) and Northampton (UK) have already joined, showing their commitment to release the potential of untapped ITS solutions to improve mobility back home.
Earlier this year, we also launched our six core programmes. Urban mobility is one of them. Moreover, ERTICO is supporting ITS early adopter cities in the implementation of ITS solutions. London provides a good example of open data policy, while cities such as Bordeaux, Verona, Helmond, to cite just a few, are testing services that will inform drivers about the green lights ahead so they can drive more smoothly.
The forthcoming ITS Wold Congress in Bordeaux in October 2015 will create a perfect environment for local authorities to share their experiences and discuss structural and financial barriers. In line with this spirit, ERTICO, as Congress organisers together with the European Commission, ITS America, ITS Asia-Pacific and the local hosts, have prepared a full day dedicated to “Sustainable Urban Mobility”, including multiple sessions, workshops and exhibitions.