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Open social transport network for urban approach to carpooling

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SocialCar (Open social transport network for urban approach to carpooling)

Reporting period: 2016-12-01 to 2018-05-31

Current journey planning tools do not provide information for multi-modal journeys connecting individual and collective transport services. Often, the proposed options require multiple interchanges and result in long and convoluted journeys. SocialCar is a research and innovation action bringing together developers, social and economic scientists, transport engineers, carpooling providers and public authorities from several EU countries with the aim to enhance the public transport network by a wider variety of services including carpooling/sharing, bike sharing, taxi and other on-demand services. SocialCar developed an IT platform, made available as Open Source, providing planning, booking and payment services for multimodal trips. By developing data processing flows and algorithms, the project responded to the challenge of matching travel requests with the integrated public-private transport supply. The SocialCar innovation is twofold: technological (the potential of open data, the innovative multi-modal algorithms) and economic (novel mobility service models, public-private partnerships in the passengers' transport domain). With an Innovation Management Board, the project involved external influencers who regularly provided advice and paved the way for a market roll-out and mainstreaming of the developed solutions. The project solutions were subjected to a three-level trial in 10 European test sites. The most advanced trial level examined the potential for early adoption by end-users in 4 cities.
SocialCar main objectives are to reduce travel times and costs, to increase comfort and convenience and to contribute to a better environmental performance of urban transport networks. The achieved benefits are relating to social inclusion, service orientation for citizens, accessibility of urban areas and transport efficiency. SocialCar will alleviate traffic congestion and carbon footprint, will reduce the operating costs of individual car-poolers and will increase the share of public transport users. The research action funded by H2020 program concluded with significant scientific advancements (multimodal routing algorithms combining regular and flexible transports) and technical outputs (the journey planner application and related software platform, the study of transport environments and operating conditions for generating feasibility of an integrated multimodal system and finally the business modelling and economic assessment of the entire system) allowing full transferability of project results.
At technical level, the initial activities were carried out for identifying functional and non-functional requirements, defining use cases, data models and algorithms. While progressing the project activities, the functional and conceptual design were prepared, and these outcomes allowed the software development activities. Once completed the initial developments, internal tests were carried out and then the whole software platform deployed in the cloud. According to the expected work-plan, three different type of tests were performed: test A carried out in all 10 project sites was a functional desktop test aimed at debugging the system and assessing main features; test B carried out in 5 project sites was an assessment based on traffic simulators verifying the potentialities in terms of improvement of transport system performances; test C carried out in 4 project sites was the real-field test with end-users.
During the second part of the project, it was identified the market framework along with drivers and barriers and then produced business models and with financial assessments in all 10 sites.
Project activities were supported by user recruitment, local dissemination campaigns and the overall communication with organisation of several conferences, workshops, scientific publications and social media activities.
The project produced tangible results summarised as follows:
- An integrated software platform made available as Open Source for further developments
- A novel data exchange protocol especially designed for carpooling, documented in public project deliverables
- A deep evaluation framework and related assessment reporting the outcomes of project experimentations
- Several business models for potential product roll-out, along with market framework analysis
- The financial assessment elaborated for the 10 project sites with a dedicated tool publicly available and easily configurable.
The project tested its developments either as desktop/simulated application or in real-field experimentations, collecting positive feedback from citizens and transport operators. Concrete results have been documented so far in 9 in scientific publications and highly disseminated to end-users in a number of conferences, workshops, exhibitions and social media interactions. These outcomes allowed concrete exploitation possibilities to commercialise the SocialCar solution with one of the different business models elaborated that project partners will be proposing in the urban mobility market.
SocialCar is a clear step beyond state of the art solutions, offering a completely new approach towards urban and smart mobility and achieving outstanding progresses beyond the state-of-the-art:
•a novel IT platform matching travel request with integrated public-private transport supply;
•a new protocol, able to transfer carpooling and public transport data between service providers;
•innovative B2B and B2C business models;
•a ready reckoner tool assessing financial viability.
SocialCar achieved the following impacts:
1. Unlocked potential of big transport data social network mobility-based experiences for EU citizens. SocialCar manages data coming from different sources providing new ways of gathering novel information about transport infrastructure.
2. Improved quality of life in urban environments, through the provision of new environmentally friendly mobility solutions. SocialCar provides more demand to existing public transport system. 3. Contribution to the EU 2020 targets on energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. according to experimental results, it is estimated that increases in public transport trips could range from 4% to almost 7%; the estimated results in terms of CO2 emissions show an approximate range of reduction between 1% and 5% and the estimated reduction in delay for every road user at peak times range from 3% to 10% with respect to a scenario without SocialCar.
4. Improvements in collective Public Transport usage. It is estimated that a proportion of people will move from single to multiple occupancy use and many car-poolers will be re-directed to mainstream collective transport.
5. Demonstration of a sustainable intelligent transport system based on car-pooling and collective transport. SocialCar test sites allowed validation of the sustainability and replicability potential of an integrated intelligent transport system based on carpooling and public transport data.
Overall, with its unprecedented idea to combine regular and flexible transport services, SocialCar provides relevant socio-economic impacts by alleviating negative effects of traffic congestion and improving the capacity of transport infrastructure. The project also wider produced relevant wider societal implications, by improving the accessibility of peri-urban areas and low-income families that can benefit from a convenient and highly efficient service, replacing car ownership.