European cities and urban environments are facing a revolution in urban mobility mainly related to the wide increase of population in cities, and today also to the recent COVID-19 pandemic . Urbanization and what we may call its “side effects” have placed urban mobility on center stage, for the consideration of governments, city transport planners, and private enterprises. The 2020s are probably going to be a decade of transformation for urban mobility some of which will be driven by the use of big data and AI.
According to Gartner, Inc. 2020 Hype Cycle for Smart City Technologies and Solutions (Gartner, «Hype Cycle for Smart City Technologies and,» Gartner, Inc., 2020.) among the emerging stories “data becomes the critical fuel to unlock and orchestrate fact-based decisions relative to resilience and citizen-focused issues.”. In the same report, data exchange and data access are considered key in an urban ecosystem and smart city. Many cities have already realized the importance of data and are working on building tools to support its use but “the adoption rate will be strongly influenced by the ability to convince the owners of the data of the value of data orchestration and sharing and the technical interoperability of data layers and analytics systems”. This may become a fundamental step to make sure that city initiatives related to the use of data do not fail. It is, actually, forecasted that by 2023, 30% of smart city initiatives will lose political and public support and be discontinued for lack of integrated services and data analysis (B. F. Bettina Tratz-Ryan, «Establish an Urban Data Exchange for Smart,» Gartner, Inc. 2020.).
And while data is becoming a fundamental resource for the creation of intelligent urban ecosystem the challenges are still numerous: e.g. data sets are not always usable or they are scattered and available in different data sources, there is scarce or inexistent management and interaction among the different systems and services and there is a lack of a thorough understanding of the impact as well as implications of the use of disruptive technologies.
URBANITE focuses on addressing some of the exiting challenges by empowering decision makers, in the urban mobility domain, to exploit big data analytics to perform smart, accurate, efficient policy making and shape the future of urban mobility through the intelligent use of data and the effective adoption of disruptive technologies. The project focuses both on technical challenges and on more social ones by:
- Developing tools for the collection, organization, integration, storing and visualization of data. It combines data from multiple data sources for the analysis of current situations and trends, the simulation of the effect of different situations and the prediction of future ones;
- Engaging citizens and civil servants in the policy making process through co-creation practices and tools increasing trust and capturing the vision of all the actors involved in the policy making process but also affected by it;
- Providing policy makers with careful guidance on the adoption and implementation of disruptive technologies (i.e. big data, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, algorithms) through recommendations, guidelines and pathways.
In brief, the main results URBANITE aims at releasing at the end of the project are:
- The Social Policy Lab - a digital co-creation environment and a set of approaches that facilitate the interaction among relevant stakeholders (public, private, civil society and research sectors) and the exchange of their points of views/experiences on concrete challenges, opportunities, needs, ideas.
- The Data Management Platform - supporting the entire data processing chain from collection, aggregation, provisioning to using the data.
- The Decision-Support System - powerful analytics tools that combine multiple data sources with advanced algorithms, simulation, recommendation and visualization.
- Recommendations and pathways - providing public administrations guidance on the adoption and implementation of disruptive technologies and data to innovate and improve their policy making processes and procedures.
Through its results URBANITE aims at enabling policy makers in the urban mobility sector to:
- Make the data management process more efficient by handling the entire process. Fetch data from various heterogeneous sources (e.g. urban services and IoT devices), transform, fusion and map it and store it in dedicated databases ready for its use.
- Make the most out of data, prepare the data and make it usable (data analysis, policy definition) with the URBANITE data curation components that handle: 1) data quality checks of the collected data, 2) data cleaning and annotation to transform unstructured information into high quality data sets and 3) data anonymization and pseudonymization to address privacy issues, 4) data transformation to common semantics and data models to guarantee interoperability.
- Learn from short- intermediate- and long-term trends to improve urban mobility by performing trend analyses, e.g. learn from the trends of peak hours in which a street is blocked or from the use of a certain transportation system – bikes, public transport, taxi etc. - in a certain neighbourhood. Data analysis results will be visualized to show traffic density, traffic flows, points of interest etc.
- Anticipate behaviours and delimit unforeseen consequences by simulating the effect of different traffic situations (through the use of artificial intelligence algorithms), e.g. simulate the effect of opening a pedestrian street at certain times, of locating electric charging stations or bike sharing points in certain areas.
- Identify potentially problematic or otherwise important events that would have a high price if discovered in the real life. Identify events with cutting edge detection methods and validate mobility policies in a virtual environment with simulation techniques.
- Create public policies and services “with” people and not just “for” them. Put people at the centre of urban mobility policy making, making sure policies are based on shared values and principles and address effective needs of the citizens and relevant stakeholders.
- Foster cross-departmental collaboration by creating an urban ecosystem for optimized urban management involving public administrations, private transport companies and citizens.
More about URBANITE’s approach, solutions, finding and results will be coming up soon on this blog, so do not miss our next posts!