editorial

OPTIMUM innovations harness data to deliver state-of-the-art mobility solutions

November 30, 2017

By Alexandra Rodrigues, consultant of Transportes, Inovação E Sistemas, S.A., pilot coordinator of OPTIMUM

Ms Rodrigues summarises the recent achievements of OPTIMUM pilots.

Smart transportation systems generate huge amounts of data that can be helpful in identifying system needs, traffic trends and various facets of user behaviour. For more than a year and a half, the OPTIMUM project has been working with big data to develop a common platform for use with central transport services. To achieve this goal, the project team has designed three types of pilot projects that are being carried out in five different cities. The unique innovations of each pilot project are described below.

Pilot 1 Sustainable multimodal routing of daily journeys

This is a project that truly requires the participation of users and the effective use of a specially designed app. For the app to build detailed profiles, users merely need to have the app turned on as they make their daily journeys over a determined timeframe. Once the app has acquired enough data, it will be able to provide the user with suggested routes and transport modes for moving from one point to another. Moreover, the platform can deliver messages to persuade users to choose alternatives that generate fewer CO2 emissions.

The pilot is currently being deployed in three European cities: Vienna, Ljubljana and Birmingham. The app combines several transport modes in real time, such as trains, buses, trams and rentable bicycles. At the same, a ‘dynamic crediting model’ can award prizes to users who adopt the most sustainable mobility patterns. At the present stage, the app is being improved to ensure that the new trial period will produce superior results by May 2018. It is OPTIMUM project’s final objective that it will soon be possible to exploit this routing engine in other contexts.

Pilot 2 Dynamic charging scheme for logistic freight operators  

Maintenance costs for national (non-toll) roads in Portugal are especially high because logistic freight operators typically opt to use these roads to save costs. The rationale behind the OPTIMUM project’s dynamic charging scheme is to adjust toll prices according to traffic volume at different times of day. Historical data is used to estimate traffic and to make pricing more competitive. At present, it is not possible to provide prices in real time, and logistic freight operators need to receive such information at least 48 hours in advance to plan their routes. When the scheme is in place, users will have a web app for retrieving information that will allow them to better decide and plan their routes based on simulated toll prices.

Luis Simões, a major Portuguese freight operator, is participating in testing the pilot model. The first testing period revealed that highway use resulted in reduced fuel consumption and increased road safety, which is why the company is considering revising its assumptions about made it opt for the use of non-toll roads in the first place. While the app can be tailored to meet the needs of each road operation, the OPTIMUM consortium understands that private operators are unlikely to have the same concerns as freight operators related to the use of national roads.  

 Pilot 3 App-equipped motorhome rental in Slovenia

This is a pilot being developed in Ljubljana and tested by Adria Mobil, a leading manufacturer of caravans, motorhomes and mobile homes. At the present stage, vehicles associated with the OPTIMUM project benefit from the MACH1 system, which offers cutting-edge processing, app-based and remote control functions, and outside connectivity to the central Optimum system. Plans are afoot to integrate the system with selected motorhome prototypes.

The equipped motorhomes retrieve information from a central unit where they can exchange information with other similarly equipped vehicles. At the same time, they can control their route using the platform and the mobile app, which lists all ‘points of interest’ (POIs) along the route. The POI listings also contain information on the type of motorhome services available, parking places etc. Another feature that OPTIMUM foresees is real-time connection of POIs with internal motorhome settings and conditions, which will enable both app-based and central system-based services. Such features would represent an advance already a cut above current state-of-the-art amenities.