This past weekend I was at the US-EU Frontiers of Engineering Workshop in Paris. The National Academies of Engineering asked me to co-chair the session on “The Future of Transportation.” Three researchers who are well known in the U.S. dazzled the collection of 50+ other engineers who represented other engineering fields.
Why Traffic Management Works…And Why Coordinated Traffic Management will Work Even Better – Serge Hoogendoorn, Technical University Delft, The Netherlands
Nash-Stackelberg Games in Transportation Networks: Leveraging the Power of Smartphones for Traffic Monitoring and Management - Alexandre Bayen, University of California, Berkeley
Impacts of the Sharing Economy in Transportation - Kari Edison Watkins, Georgia Institute of Technology
Here are two observations based on the session:
1. The last speaker, Prof. Watkins, offered several perspectives in the her presentation that got most of the Q & A session talking about issues of how to harness car travel; there was even a focused discussion about the role of cycling in all of this. Yes, some of the world’s brightest engineers were talking specifically about spurring more cycling as part of our transportation system for almost 15 minutes (really, I had little to do with this).
2. A key element of Watkins’ presentation stressed elements of the “shared economy” and implications for transportation—in terms of sharing space and information.
For us transport folks, there are seemingly endless implications of the shared economy. One framework might be to approach this by thinking about different elements of non-auto using behavior vis-à-vis different considerations that are important for adoption.
Different elements of transportation and transportation information, of course, include: Transit information (e.g., when is the next bus), Bike and Car sharing (e.g., where are the stations), Cycle tracks (e.g., how do people use the network), Ride sharing or slugging (e.g., sharing space in a conventional car), Destination knowledge (e.g., where is the closest pizza)…the list can go on.
Considerations that are important for adoption would include:
-Are there general safety fears of the transport device being used (e.g., am I using someone else’s car whose brakes don’t work)?
-Are there specific safety and security fears with procuring access to the transport device (i.e., do I have to meet someone I don’t know to get a hold of the device)?
-Are you concurrently sharing a physical space with another person (e.g., sitting shotgun in their car)?
-How much reliability of the trip is needed (e.g., you absolutely need to get there now)?
-To what degree can the information exchange be public, done via open wiki or otherwise open source?
-To what degree would my anxiety about sharing space (e.g., a spot in their car) be overcome via forms of social media (e.g., leveraging facebook and 6 degrees of separation.
…the list can also go on.
The main point: to successfully leverage all the different forms of the shared economy for transportation, different forms of transport information have different criteria to “make it work.”