What’s next for mobility?

From A to B is old news. In the future, smart operating and digital systems will make even more sustainable, effective and efficient mobility possible. Whether it’s the transportation of freight as part of the logistics sector, or public transportation in new innovative and sustainable forms; the future is already taking shape in the TopDutch region. Experts Prof. dr. Iris Vis, Dr. Janet Veldstra and Daniel Koelikamp explain what makes the TopDutch region, with its hive.mobility program, the ideal field lab for contributing to the design of the mobility of the future, within urban and rural environments.

Hive.mobility is a network organization founded by the Province of Groningen, City of Groningen, University of Groningen, Hanze University of Applied Sciences and Noorderpoort together with a large group of stakeholders in the region. Interdisciplinary research teams work in  clos collaboration with representatives of companies and government to develop, share and implement knowledge on the concept of sustainable and smart mobility.

The Sustainable Living Lab SMiLES is part of the hive.mobility network and is monitored by TKI Dinalog for the innovation agenda of the Top Sector Logistics. Excerpts of the article can be find below. The full article can be read here.

What are the major changes happening in the world of mobility?

Prof. dr. Vis: ‘With the introduction of new modes of transport and new concepts for sustainable transportation, new overarching visions for transport and logistics are being developed. The Dutch ‘Topsector Logistics’ – in which businesses, knowledge institutes and government work together in innovation programs – introduced, for example, the concept of synchromodal transport. Synchromodal transport allows for flexibility in selecting modes of transportation and delivery routes, resulting in more sustainable ways of performing logistics operations.

‘Typically, in the traditional concept of logistics, routes, modalities and time schedules are determined upfront. Synchromodality, however, enables more real-time decision making. It might also allow for efficiently dealing with disturbances, such as the problem that occurred in 2011 when the European river Rhine became blocked by a vessel, resulting in a queue of over 400 vessels. Using synchromodal transport, the cargo on these ships could have been flexibly transported via different means of transportation – similar to how persons would rearrange their trip in case of a roadblock or a calamity.

‘A second change is that concepts of the sharing economy also might apply in the world of logistics. Traditionally, each company has its own warehouse, its own mode of transport, and ensures themselves that goods will be transported from A to B. A next step in developing a more sustainable system for logistics and mobility can consist of the sharing of facilities, modes of transport and staff. As a third trend, we might expect that the networks for passenger and freight transport will be more connected in the future. Perhaps e-commerce lockers strategically placed at public transport hubs. All of these concepts are being studied and new tools and solutions are being designed in close collaboration between researchers, entrepreneurs, and representatives of companies and governmental organizations within the Topsector Logistics.’

Veldstra: ‘Behavioral scientists deal with barriers and opportunities for the acceptance of these new innovations. In spatial sciences, it it about the relationship between the innovations and the environment. Economists and business researchers are developing new business models that can deliver the logistics and mobility concepts of the future, and engineers are working on models that can predict the reactions of actors in systems where knowledge is integrated. The nineteen business partners of SMiLES are regional and international experts in mobility solutions and services – wholesalers, distribution centers, carriers of goods and people, or digital studios. In addition to the University of Groningen, the Noorderpoort vocational college group and the Hanze University of Applies Sciences also launched learning communities. This creates an ecosystem that is capable of realizing innovation at both a scientific and practical level, together with the business community.


SMiLES is part of the research program Sustainable Living Labs, which is co-financed by the Dutch Research Council (NWO), the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, Taskforce for Applied research (SIA) and the TOP Sector Logistics.

Source: TopDutch


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