The debate about the future for mobility is more topical than ever. Due to COVID19, the discussions between private and public stakeholders in the mobility sector are being intensified, yet prestigious ITS events this year are being postponed.  To compensate, ERTICO is taking the ITS conversation on-line. ERTICO-ITS Europe hosted its first Virtual Conference, ‘Empowering mobility with secure and accessible data’, supported by Partner BlackBerry on 3-4 June. Attended by nearly 500 participants, this Virtual Conference enabled participants to question the panellists on key issues such as the European Data Strategy, making businesses more data-agile, cyber-security and the transport landscape post COVID19.

This first Virtual Conference, in a series to be hosted by ERTICO-ITS Europe, aimed to address the challenges that are underpinning the effectiveness and safety in mobility and the potential for data sharing at a time when a new mobility paradigm is being created. The European Commission, public authorities and cities, as well as industry stakeholders involved in ITS, mobility data providers and cybersecurity experts came together to discuss and answer questions about the future of mobility in the post-COVID era. Introducing the conference,  Jacob Bangsgaard, ERTICO CEO said ‘Despite the health crisis, as a sector we need to stay on track, readjust our priorities, continue the roadmap of change and prepare for new intelligent mobility schemes in a paradigm governed by our urge to move versus our need to be safe. ERTICO and BlackBerry both recognise the value in promoting the discussion between the private and the public sector on needs and requirements, business bottlenecks and safety requirements in mobility.’

Over two days, four distinct panels discussed the new and innovative developments taking place in the mobility sector.

Panel 1 – Mobility data – needs and plans of the public sector

Johanna Tzanidaki, Innovation & Deployment Director for ERTICO – ITS Europe as host of the first panel said ‘With high level representatives from the public sector, this panel will provide the forum to discuss data sharing as envisaged in the European Data Strategy, as well as the plans of the European Commission on National Access Points and on the possible federated European NAP model. It will help us understand the plans of the European Commission at European level and the needs of the users of these data. Users are not only the citizens. but also the public authorities and the cities at national and local level’. Johanna was joined by Edoardo Felici, Policy Officer from the European Commission’s DG MOVE, Tiffany Vlemmings, Project Manager from the Dutch National Data Warehouse for Traffic Information, Odysseas Raptis, CEO of e-Trikala and Vasco Mora, Mobility advisor to the Deputy Mayor of Lisbon to discuss these pertinent issues.

First off, Edoardo Felici, Policy Officer from DG MOVE emphasised the importance of data for European economic growth, competitiveness and innovation. He revealed how the European Commission’s Data Strategy, introduced with the White Paper on Artificial Intelligence in February, aims to provide a framework for a common European dataspace and the provision of common rules for accessibility and compliance. ‘This European strategy aims at creating a single market for data that will ensure Europe’s global competitiveness and data sovereignty. There are of course challenges,’ he said ‘with the roll-out of a Single Digital Space, including lack of data and its quality in some areas, as well as fragmentation. However, the Commission wants to ensure that data can flow and that there are clear fair rules governing data sharing, as well as stronger coordination of all Access Points’.

Tiffany Vlemmings, Project Manager from the Dutch National Data Warehouse for Traffic Information introduced the Dutch perspective, which has a relatively mature mobility infrastructure with a range of data portals, mostly of which are public. Tiffany stressed that ‘new mobility solutions need data coherence’ in the context of the growing shift towards multi-theme mobility management. Currently she pointed out that data in the Netherlands was acquired mostly as a by-catch from mobility management systems, but that it was important to move away from silos towards the development of an access point through a three-step process where there was full multi-lateral public-private data exchange.

Odysseas Raptis, CEO of e-Trikala, the Municipal Development Agency behind Trikala’s smart city drive, stressed the importance of satisfying the needs of users. A small city in Greece, with over 81,000 inhabitants, increasing to 1 million tourists in the winter due to the thematic park of the Mille of Elves, Trikala now has become a flagship smart city for the country. ‘Given our strong agricultural heritage with a lot of outlying communities, it is important for us to have a shared approach and to develop the right solutions that satisfy the need of our citizens and our users. Our aim is to introduce the right solutions, not just for the sake of innovation, but solutions that suit our city’s needs. For example we are currently introducing drones that deliver medical supplies to the communities outside the city, particularly relevant at the postCOVID-19 era, especially for the elderly and vulnerable groups. In this context, we are presently creating the correct framework for collecting and assessing data on urban air mobility, always aiming to improve the quality of life in Trikala. ’

Vasco Mora, Mobility advisor to the Deputy Mayor of Lisbon pointed out that whilst it was important for the European Commission to provide a top down strategy, it was up to cities to provide a bottom-up approach. ‘Data has a very important value and urban data is particularly crucial for the life of a city. We need to develop the right data processes, using well documented standards, to create a framework that fosters its usage, eases training and boosts our knowledge on what we can do with the data’. He pointed out that Lisbon is developing a catalogue of very detailed metadata for the city and the region. ‘We must not forget that it is not only real-time data that is important, but also high-quality static data. What do we do when the connection fails?’ He commented that there must be real focus on data privacy so that our users feel comfortable sharing their data by agreeing on an explicit set of conditions to do so. ‘Instagram and Facebook already to do it – but we need to have clearer and simpler terms and conditions in the public sector. We are currently working on an area-oriented app for the city that delivers new mobility news specific to an area, for example providing information about new bus routes and micro-mobility alternatives.’

Edoardo Felici added that it is important to have harmonised data sharing across the mobility spectrum and to have it digitalised in the right way to attract new kinds of services. ‘We need to see the implementation of services powered by data that offer real benefits for me and for you.’ In answer to the question of whether public private collaboration can really happen at European level, Tiffany Vlemmings was hesitant. ‘Just harmonising the National Access points is a real challenge on its own. Are the benefits of this really going to the end user?’ Odysseas Raptis pointed out that whilst Trikala was developing its SUMP and co-leading the European Task Force of integrating urban air mobility data to it, While SUMP is an important tool that will benefit the city in the long term, the real data gap was revealed:  the lack of unification of available data.

Johanna Tzanidaki pointed out to the panel that  it may look like there are two different sets of needs and plans or that the cities are not so involved in establishing the European Data Strategy. Yet the strategy  is still in a basic framework phase and is indeed trying to address the data needs expressed at national and local level. It tries to address the commonalities of the problems in the cities and the Member States on standardisation, on the multiplicity and different types of data, on the fragmentation and types of NAPs with the aim of trying to create a single market for data which should be accessible to all. ‘Not easy, as the discussion has already been going on for a long time, but very important as a plan if we wish to make sure that our mobility is both safe and smart, ‘ saidJohanna.

Please click here for the full experience of Panel 1.

Please click here for the Panellist’s slides.

Panel 2 – New “data-agile” transport businesses

Laura Coconea, Innovation leader at Swarco, opened the second panel by saying that ‘data is a key element for mobility services and innovative products such as journey planning, real time traffic information and MaaS, which all require the access, exchange, use and re-use of public and personal/non-personal data’. High level panellists Jeroen Brower from TomTom, Piia Karialainen from the MaaS Alliance, Paul Theyskens from MyData Global and Tarun Shome solutions manager for BlackBerry Labs. joined Laura to discuss state of the art deployment of such services, the use of multiple data types, sources and formats to enable businesses to be more ‘data-agile’.

Jeroen Brouwer of Tom Tom, ‘As a traffic engineer I am looking to create more efficient traffic management services, for example taking data of the speed of vehicles at particular points in the infrastructure, the location of congestion points and the times of the day these happen. It is not only real-time traffic data, but also the historical data information that we use. We would like to have data sources that are scalable, more switchable and more suitable to the innovation we need to bring into traffic management’.

Piia Karjalainen from the MaaS Alliance, an organisation with 100 partners located across Europe, North America and the Asia Pacific region, supporting the roll-out of MaaS services in Mobility, said ‘Data-sharing is one of the most discussed topics in the history of the MaaS Alliance.  Data is a real key enabler for multimodal, integrated services, supporting fleet and network optimisation and evidence based policy-making amongst others. The greatest issues probably at this moment are lack of trust and lack of economic incentives for data-sharing.

Paul Theyskens from MyData Global spoke about how a digital transformation in mobility and public transport needs to have citizens at its heart. ‘We need to empower individuals by improving their right to self-determination in relation to their personal data. MyData Global has close to 100 organisation members and 1200 individual members from over 40 countries across six continents.  MyDataGlobal is carrying out several major projects in France, Holland and Finland on personal data sharing using innovative methods such as crowd sourcing, and is also working in collaboration with the city of Helsinki in relation to the implementation of ‘data rolling’ (Data Roaming), where a citizen’s data can be continued across borders.’ He stressed the importance of a new data sharing based economy where some kind of consent receipt can be created, which is approved by the citizen.

Tarun Shome as solutions manager for BlackBerry Labs. is responsible for the creation of industry leading concepts such as the in-vehicle driver monitoring and tracking solution, recently presented at CES in the USA. ‘Vehicles are now operation centres for all sorts of data. By processing the data inside the vehicle, using the in-vehicle sensors and scanning the software we can predict and use the data to create useful feedback in easy to read formats.’ He also pointed out how we can be more efficient with the use of data, for example pre-processing a certain level of data into the vehicle so it is not always necessary to send it up into the Cloud.

Jeroen Brouwer said ‘it is very important to understand that it is not the data that is valuable, but what you do with it and the actual services you can provide with it. Even with access to GPS floating data ingested through different portals, it is only useful if you know how to transform it usefully. This is why it is essential that service suppliers have access to the raw data and not governments. It is important also to note that not all traffic management situations need the same level of latency- it is entirely situational.’

Yet, Piia Karjalainen wondered about the financial perspective of creating a ‘data-agile economy’ and creating full commercial value with the current crisis placing too many pressures on the transport sector.  ‘Who will finance the required standardisation and the way it will be implemented? Perhaps we need to create economic incentives?’ she said.

The greatest barriers to moving forward in BlackBerry’s view are security and privacy. Tarun commented that with the introduction of GDPR legislation by the European Commission  last year, in general people are becoming more aware of their right to privacy, yet the range of what is acceptable is very personal –more education is required on how data is being and could be used.

Please click here for the full experience of Panel 2.

Please click here for the Panellist’s slides.

Panel 3 – The cyber-secure infrastructure

Jeffrey Davis, Government Affairs and Public Policy Senior Director of co-host BlackBerry stressed the value of this virtual conference in bringing private and public sectors together and discussing the important issue of cyber-security, as the transport sector becomes increasingly digitalised. He was joined on the panel by a wealth of experience including Sebe Vogel from the Dutch Ministry Rijkswaterstaat, Steve Dellenback from the Southwest Research Institute,  John McClurg from BlackBerry and  Dr Christian Gayda from T-Systems.

Sebe Vogel, Project Leader of the CONCORDA  Amsterdam practical trial and pilot site spoke about his experience on this European-wide and EC funded project  which is  implemented together with a consortium of  30 partners including Fiat Chrysler and NXP on five different tests sites across the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain and Belgium. This project tests communication between road side systems and automated vehicles in order to develop knowledge about potential opportunities and threats on the infrastructure and system. It aims to improve the quality of life and ease traffic flow and to eventually assist in the development of policy. The project considers interaction between vehicles and infrastructure in relation to intelligent traffic lights and hazards, (such as stationary vehicles and traffic jams on different networks), with different communication technologies including ITS G5 cellular V2X as well as long range cellular communication. The project takes an integral approach on cyber security, considering the entire supply chain from suppliers to stakeholders in line with international standards and carrying out testing on cyber security fit for purpose in real traffic situations.

Steve Dellenback, Vice President R&D, Southwest Research Institute pointed out that a key challenge in creating seamless mobility and providing continued quality of service is uniting the various points of the mobility infrastructure composed of different stakeholders with varying levels of security protection. The introduction of automated vehicles into the traffic infrastructure changes the way that people transit, and this will bring an entirely new threat factor into the traffic infrastructure. ‘How do we ensure that these automated vehicles can travel safely without being attacked? Security becomes a balance between the functionality of the system and how much you are willing to pay for its security’.

John McClurg, Sr. VP & Chief Information Security Officer [CISO], of BlackBerry  said ‘I like to quote Thomas Friedman’s book ‘The World is Flat’, that characterises the modern world as a place where traditional boundaries of delineated interest grow more and more porous as the world  grows evermore connected. For example one of the impacts of the current pandemic is that the distinction between home and work has blurred. With modern technology, mobility, the Internet of Things, and Big Data, the world is ever more connected.’ He noted that the automated vehicle stands as a real example of this new world, with its recent connection to the internet that opens it up to the possibility of attacks, and that there are increased security risks in the wake of the pandemic as employees stay home.  He said ‘Historically, there was always ‘security by obscurity’ to protect you when certain organisations were considered small enough to avoid the risks of attack. In today’s connected world, this is no longer possible. The burden of attack now falls on the entire community.’

Dr Christian Gayda, Head of Cluster and Mobile Security at T-systems as the huge global operating company Deutsche Telecom says the company often is a target for attackers, but also needs to provide mobile and security service for many customers. ‘As an insight in 2018 there were 12 million hacker attempts. In 2019, that rose to 42 million. In 2020, there was an average of 71 million hacker attempts in one day. At the height of the pandemic in March this year, there were 90 million attacks per day. This is a tremendous increase. These attacks may be hackers looking for attention, others may be cyber criminals looking for financial reward, and finally some are more official, related to government interests.’

Steve Dellenback pointed out how security has now become an important issue for road operators. In this new era of smarter mobility and cyber security, small companies are emerging with new innovations that push forward mobility into a system of system and the transport infrastructure needs to be agile enough to accommodate them and ensure they are secure. ‘However, cyber security solutions are extremely expensive, in particular for the transport agencies.’

Dr. Christian Gayda ‘With the recent trend in digitalisation, it is not only the workers who  are more mobile, but also the data is, going into the Cloud. Companies have less control of their own data and they need to change their view on security. They need to control those who have access and are users of the data… their employees, their clients. Identification and identity has become the challenge in this new world. This perception of thinking you can control everything is disappearing. Control is now split between third parties such as iCloud providers and your employees.’

John McClurg ‘There is a real relationship between privacy and security. Certainly I believe security can help us deliver on privacy. The concept of privacy though has changed and today millennials will value their privacy less than their grandparents did as they gain information richness in allowing applications access to their information.’ He also notes that with new machine learning and the emergence of AI, there are many security trends emerging in the telecoms industry that should make us all feel more positive about the future.

Steve Dellenback outlined what was necessary to put in place for an effective cyber-security system and pointed out that ideally one should start from the design phase. He warned that the process could be costly, and it was important to be specific about the security the system required. ‘I would ask these questions:  how does someone gain access to our network? If someone has gained access, what can they access? How are they detectable? What do you do in response?’

Please click here to gain the full experience of Panel 3.

Please click here for the Panellists’ slides.

Panel 4 – Data powered mobility in COVID-19 times

Irina Patrascu-Grant, Partnership Development and Communications Director of ERTICO hosted this panel with guests that included Darren Capes, Department for Transport, UK, Villy Portouli from the Institute of Communications and Computer Systems, Camila González Arango from the company Spare and Jaap Hatenboer from UMCG Ambulancezorg, NL Dutch Ambulance Care.. Welcoming the panellists, she said ‘We are entering a new era. COVID19 has touched us all, both personally and professionally, changing our economies and our view on the future. We believe that new technologies can now be used to help us cope with the new reality to support contagion prevention and people’s mobility. ‘

Darren Capes, Department for Transport, UK pointed out that as the UK gradually emerges from full lockdown a huge concern has been mitigating the spread of the virus and ensuring social distancing, and that data has played a huge role. ‘Throughout this process, data and gathering data has been vital to government’s understanding of what is happening. For example, gathering transport data from road side counters, from rail and bus networks or from ports offers a real picture of what people are doing. A big change is that whereas before we use to gather this data on a weekly basis, COVID19 has meant we are now gathering it twice daily. It has fundamentally altered the way we look at data and enabled us to understand the full picture at a national level. We are able to assist with difficult questions about the future and gauge what people might do. Will they go back to their old habits or are we seeing a definite change? It has now been recognised across the Government the importance live data plays and that is a significant and welcome change’.

Jaap Hatenboer, Innovation manager of UMCG Ambulancezorg, NL said ‘The emergency services are quite familiar with unknown situations. The crews regularly go into situations with limited information. We are an action oriented organisation. The real insight came later when we looked at the needs of our own staff. It is clear they experienced things that they had never seen before and were involved in a way as never before, especially regarding the transport of intensive care patients from the North to the South of the Netherlands. Up to now we only prepared for short term incidents, we are now confronted with a crisis that might never end – it has been a rapid learning experience.’

Villy Portouli is involved in the project ELVITEN, which promotes the use of two wheeler light passenger vehicles and light vehicles across six European cities. ‘In normal times, we visit cities and collect data with the eventual aim of preparing proposals for transport authorities to incorporate these vehicles in their transport infrastructure. Following the pandemic, of course these trips stopped. We then took the opportunity of offering these vehicles to local delivery services for supermarkets. Goods were delivered within strict social distancing rules. We have now been able to see that there is a much wider scope for these vehicles and a good business case for them in our society.’

Camila González Arango from Spare ‘Our motto is that data is the road to recovery. Spare is a software company specialised in Demand Responsive Transport that assists public transport operators by providing a mobility platform that is seamlessly scalable for any demand scenario. Following this pandemic there are a lot of challenges for public transport. Not only have travel patterns changed, but there may be a natural fear of public spaces and it is difficult to project public transport as a safe place to be. Spare can help increase public transport capacity by replacing low frequency bus lines, and can do so with third party operators to ensure that there are extra vehicles and drivers especially during peak times. We can provide a powerful planning tool and launch services within 48 hours. During the lockdown, in an innovative project in Palma de Mallorca, we replaced several low occupation fixed lines with a mixed fleet of mini buses and taxis on demand, which allowed the city to reallocate the large buses into the main corridors.’

Darren Capes continued ‘We were not very prepared, but we are in a situation we have never experienced since the Second World War. Public transport is built around high levels of occupancy and we need high levels of usage to make it profitable. There are many questions. How will we cope with this in the future? During the pandemic, the strong advice was not to use public transport and that this was needed for critical workers. We encouraged cycling or walking where possible. Of course, we will now need to reallocate road space in some way. We clearly want this to be a permanent change. We must make the most out of this opportunity.’

Camila added ‘Public transport and social distancing seems like contradiction, but it is possible. We need to regain trust. We believe that the public transport in Europe is resilient and will recover with such actions, as adjusting transport allocation and managing demand. We do need creative ideas to make it more resilient to respond to this and future crises.’

Jaap Hatenboer said, ‘With this in mind the question arises on whether we would have used drones if they had been readily available.  We had challenges with delivering personal protection. Perhaps, looking back, we would probably have used drone extensively. This crisis has made us re-think our logistics and the typical compromises you make when you only have traditional logistics at your disposal. ‘ ‘

Irina Patrascu concluded the panel saying that ‘We have a challenge on our hands; however we are not missing ideas. The future direction of mobility perhaps will be different, but we must take this as an opportunity to reset it for the better.’

Please click here for the full experience of Panel 4.

Please click here for the Panellists’ slides.

ERTICO and BlackBerry wants to thank all panellists for their involvement in this Virtual Congress, the first of many as ERTICO continues the ITS conversation on-line.