Public transportation in cities is one of the most difficult sectors to reduce carbon emissions from. Traffic pattern analysis is often unreliable, and citizens often lack the will, or sufficient alternatives, to change their transportation patterns.
The project is co-financed by Nordic Innovation and will result in an innovative solution that will give users the knowledge and incentives to make green transportation choices – and provide the cities with accurate travel data to tailor their public transport offerings.
“60 percent of our current carbon emissions comes from transportation”, explains Rasmus Grelsson who is an environment coordinator from the City of Östersund. The city has set ambitious aims for cutting carbon emissions – they want to be fossil-free by 2030 – but acknowledge they cannot reach them on their own.
“That is the main aim for us with this project. We need the citizens to stop emit carbon and we need better statistics and insights into how we can make them travel more sustainable”, says Grelsson.
We need the citizens to stop emit carbon and we need better statistics and insights into how we can make them travel more sustainable.Rasmus Grelsson, Environment Coordinator, City of Östersund
Providing both cities and citizens with tools
The solution is the consortium is developing is two-fold. The first part is an app that provides users with a route planner that not only presents different travel options and their respective CO2 emissions, but also personalised information on commonly taken routes such as road conditions or congestions. The app users will be able to see the impact that their travel choices have on the environment as well as on their health and will be provided with reward system for making green choices.
The app is developed by Norwegian tech company Kobla and is now in its second pilot and is currently being tested with real users in Östersund. The first rewards are vouchers to an environmentally friendly store in the city. The app will continue to be piloted and eventually scaled up in Östersund.
The second part is a console for municipalities that uses the data from the app to analyze travel patterns as well as additional traffic data. Finnish tech company Moprim’s patented AI technology detects how users are travelling by using only existing smartphone sensors, while Norwegian tech company Applied Autonomy does analyses of the collected data and visualize the results in the console they developed.
This provides the municipality with more accurate data and allows them to improve their long-term strategies. To guarantee the anonymity of the users, all data from the app is anonymous and the start and end points are blurred, making is impossible to track exactly where people are travelling to and from. The console is already up and running.
When finished, the solution will make it possible to provide data-driven insights and incentives about green transport to citizens and the city, as well as improve their long-term strategies.
In order to smoothly manage these services, large amounts of data will be aggregated and managed using cloud-based technology developed by Norwegian tech company Applied Autonomy. Effective data management also allows to provide some additional features, such as geofenced areas where users of the app can be encouraged to make certain transport choices by increasing the rewards available or including detection of problems such as bad road conditions as soon as they occur, allowing city authorities to quickly respond to citizen’s needs.
Rebecca Ronke, Project Lead at Applied Autonomy, is leading the project and emphasizes the advantages of working with partners in three Nordic countries, although the corona pandemic has prevented her from meeting her partners face to face.
“In order to develop a scalable solution, it is important to avoid a national approach. I think it is great that we can draw on the strengths of three countries in this project”; she says,
The tech behind the solution is globally scalable and the solution could potentially be sold to municipalities also outside the Nordic region.
In order to develop a scalable solution, it is important to avoid a national approach. I think it is great that we can draw on the strengths of three countries in this project.Rebecca Ronke, Project Lead, Applied Autonomy
“The strength of this project is the relation between the users and the municipalities. A lot of cities and municipalities have challenges with analyzing travel patterns so this is a big strength”, says Rasmus Grelsson from the City of Östersund.
The Sustainable Insights: Measure, Inform, Mobilise (MIM) project is co-funded by Nordic Innovation through the Nordic Smart Mobility and Connectivity program, which is an effort help develop a more sustainable and connected transport system in the Nordic region while generating opportunities for Nordic businesses. The program is one of the efforts with which Nordic Innovation seeks to fulfil the Nordic prime ministers’ vision of Nordic region as the most sustainable and integrated region in the world by 2030.