The role of ITS in cleaner and more sustainable urban mobility

Posted: 21 March 2019 | | No comments yet

Transport currently accounts for almost a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Given the scale of this impact, smart mobility solutions will play a key role in improving the environmental credentials of transport by helping transport users make smarter decisions, thereby reducing the sector’s carbon footprint.

Intelligent transport systems and services (ITS) can act as building blocks for cleaner mobility by increasing the efficiency of transport, reducing emissions, tackling congestion and accidents, making it easier for people to make greener travel choices and making freight and logistics more efficient.

To help ITS achieve its potential as an enabler of clean mobility ERTICO – ITS Europe, a public-private partnership that develops and deploys smart mobility solutions, is working to make these technological advances more efficient through greater interoperability and by creating greater awareness. The challenge of transforming the transport sector to one that is sustainable, clean and based on smart technologies and services is not insignificant – but experts are not daunted.

“At ERTICO we see this as an exciting opportunity for us to build a better and cleaner future. We believe that we are moving in the right direction,” says ERTICO – ITS Europe CEO, Jacob Bangsgaard, adding: “Vehicles for all transport modes are greener and more efficient than ever before, and awareness of the need to tackle localised air pollution as well as climate change goals is high, particularly at city level.”

Society in transition

Many ITS applications have already been deployed and are delivering benefits, including infrastructure-based systems such as traffic monitoring and control, and roadside driver information systems. These are contributing to smoother and safer traffic flows in urban areas and on interurban corridors, keeping drivers better informed and helping them to make better decisions.

“We are living in an era of major societal change. Companies, authorities and knowledge institutes are working on innovations that will shape our future in a positive way. MaaS (Mobility-as-a-Service) is one of these, improving our accessibility while at the same time making our mobility more sustainable,” explains Nico Anten, chairman of Connekt, an independent network for smart, sustainable and social mobility, and hosts of the 2019 ITS European Congress in Brainport, Eindhoven. “In the future I expect our mobility to be safe, comfortable, on time, clean, smart, accessible, flexible, affordable and available everywhere and to everyone.“

Information and connectivity are key enablers of ITS, from multimodal pre-trip information, to real-time information for drivers and public transport passengers. Increasingly, navigation applications are linked to real-t­­ime traffic data and can provide the most efficient and least polluting route. Some examples include in-vehicle ITS applications for map-enhanced driver assistance systems (ADASIS) and cooperative systems such as platooning and V2X (vehicle-to-everything).

Transport infrastructure is another key element when it comes to reducing CO2 emissions across Europe. Existing infrastructure needs to be utilised in the most efficient way possible, with maximum connectivity between modes. MaaS for goods will also contribute to this trend and projects such as CO-GISTICS, NOVELOG, and AEOLIX all showcase  benefits in terms of reduced emissions.

Holistic approach

However, achieving cleaner mobility and resolving issues such as congestion will not be achieved by ITS alone. Electric vehicles can also contribute to the solution, as part of a balanced transport strategy that includes more efficient, attractive and affordable public transport that is easier to use. Encouraging a switch from internal combustion engines to EVs is essential to reducing pollution. As Andrew Winder, ERTICO – ITS Europe’s in-house expert on clean mobility, observes: “ITS alone is not a panacea which will solve all ills and problems. It provides a toolbox of solutions and traffic management authorities need to choose the right tool for their specific realities.”

The potential positive impact of electric vehicles is magnified when we remember that EVs are not restricted to cars, but also include electric and hybrid public transport, electric utility vehicles and electric light and micro-vehicles, such as e-scooters, which are becoming increasingly visible in Europe’s cities. The urban benefits of EVs can be seen in the ELVITEN project, for example. This project is integrating light electric vehicles into transport and energy networks in six European cities.

The 13th ITS European Congress in Brainport, Eindhoven will be an opportunity to meet industry trailblazers at the forefront of innovation in smart mobility. Transdev and VDL Groep form part of this elite group of innovators, and they are partners in this year’s Congress.

With the largest fleet of electric buses in Europe, Transdev is a leader in the field of zero-emission regional transport. “Electric transport really is something completely different from the traditional transport we know today. For good charging infrastructure, battery management, planning, timetables, maintenance and asset management, new competencies are needed,” says Transdev Communications Director, Gjalt Rameijer. “Our rapidly changing society demands ever smarter forms of mobility that are future-proof and sustainable, designed for people, society and the environment, and that are as flexible, efficient and as personal as possible.”

Given the environmental and social benefits, demand for e-mobility solutions is understandably high. VDL Groep, a developer of e-mobility solutions for heavy-duty vehicles, will produce approximately 500 new electric buses this year alone, and e-mobility solutions are being applied to freight transport also.

“All our newly introduced electric vehicles are equipped with hardware to keep cars continuously connected. Connectivity is the gateway to enable new services and new insights. It will help us to make our products better, as well as facilitating better repair and maintenance services and enabling future remote software updates.” said VDL Groep Head of Communications, Miel Timmers, stressing the importance of connectivity.

ITS European Congress

The contribution of ITS to clean mobility will be covered in detail at the upcoming ITS European Congress in Brainport, Eindhoven on 3-6 June 2019. The conference topic ‘A Breath of Fresh Air’ will examine how ITS can be used to improve air quality and be integrated into the sustainable cities of tomorrow. Join in this important conversation: for information on registering to attend ITS European Congress, click here.

The second edition in the ‘Top Trends’ series of interactive webinars in support of the Congress will take place on 3 April at 15:00 CET. The webinar will feature leading experts from the event programme as they explore cutting-edge developments and offer a taste of what attendees can expect in June.

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Webinar Series: Top trends at ITS European Congress 2019

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Don’t worry if you can’t attend on these dates and times, register anyway and once the webinar takes place, you will receive a link to watch the recording whenever suits you.

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