Intelligent Transport Systems as enabler for smart mobility

Gert Blom
Strategic advisor mobility – city of Helmond
Chair of the ITS European 2019 Congress


City of Helmond – part of the Brainport region

The search for innovative solutions for our mobility challenges is in the core of mobility
policy of the city of Helmond, a small/medium sized city in het south of the Netherlands and
part of the Brainport region. Our citizens want to be mobile, but without traffic jams,
accidents and negative impact on the environment. Large scale infrastructural measures, such
as new roads, do sometimes reduce congestion for a certain period of time, but are most of the times not very cost-effective and even impossible due to lack-of-space in urban areas.
Intelligent transport Systems (ITS) could very well contribute to our policy goals on safe,
efficient and sustainable transport systems. For this reason public authorities, research
institutes, universities and companies in the Brainport region are closely working together to develop, test and deploy ITS. With the help of various EU-funded ITS projects, we have seen the first positive results of these ITS-technologies for our city. For example in the European FREILOT project we tested in a real traffic environment communication between trucks and traffic lights in 4 European cities, one of them being Helmond. Truck drivers receiving a speed advice and time-to-green information and a certain level of priority at intersections resulted in a 13% better energy efficiency use and 13% less emissions. Win-win for the city as well as the transport companies!

From technology to deployment

Probably the main challenge is not so much in the technology as such. Vehicle-to-Vehicle and
Vehicle-to-Infrastructure communication-technology of course still has some hurdles to take.
Standardization and cyber-security to mention just two of these. But to come to large-scale
uptake by the users, hence sound business models and not public authority funding forever
and ever, is crucial. In our projects we always try to answer in the very beginning of the
project the question: “what if the pilot is successful?!”. For a city, testing the technology as such as is not the goal, it is all about what’s next? Do the users accept the new technology? Is it useful? Is there a willingness-to-pay? Hence not a technology-push approach, but always bearing in mind what the “users” (car drivers, cyclists, professional users, road authorities and so on) need. And very important: if we would come to large scale deployment, what is the impact on our mobility system? Both for the users of the technology, but also for system as a whole. In other words, better traffic flows for trucks by using ITS-technology should not have a negative impact on let us say waiting times for cyclists at intersections. In all our ITSprojects, also the ones on the transition from connected to connected-and-automated vehicles we want to understand the societal impact as well.

Quick wins are crucial

When touching on the buzz topic automated vehicles: automated vehicles could have a, if
connected to other vehicles and the infrastructure, a very positive impact on especially road safety, of course an important issue for local authorities. It is however quite uncertain how soon Connected Automated Vehicles will come to large scale deployment especially in urban areas. The good news: we do not have to wait until we have a 100% penetration rate of fully automated vehicles on our roads to have positive impacts. In the transition towards automated driving, technologies such as Intelligent Speed Assistance, will become more and more available, will perform better and as such can already save lives in the next coming years. We also have high expectations on automated and flexible on-demand shuttles as a last-mile solution. First large scale pilots with automated shuttles will run in our region from 2020 onwards.

Smart mobility and smart people

In the next coming years, our mobility system will rapidly change. Mobility as a Service
MaaS, automated vehicles, car sharing, new modes of transport such as drones. Despite all
technology which will become available, one element remains: technology should serve us
and should make our cities better and safer places to live in. And especially in this transition period, smart people are key. Only by knowing how to interact as users with ITS-technology in a smart way will turn ITS into an enabler for real smart mobility.

About the ITS 2019 European Congress

Prior to the Symposium of Driving Science (June 7th) the city of Eindhoven and city of
Helmond will host the 13th European ITS Congress, from 3-6 June 2019. Theme of the
congress is “Fulfilling ITS promises”. Exactly aiming what has been described above: wellfunctioning technology is the base, but in the end it is all about what it brings to the user and to society as a whole. For more information about the ITS Congress, please have a look at On Sunday 2 June we also organise a Public Day, which will be open for everybody, hence all future ITS-users!

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