Winner of the iMobility Award 2011 for excellence in Policy making

ERTICO: What is the involvement of the City of Helmond in (European and national) ITS projects?

Gert Blom:
The City of Helmond firmly believes in the power of technology and ITS to create a sustainable mobility system. It is however not just a matter of technology. Private and public parties will have to work closely together on business models and common roadmaps in order to achieve real deployment and mobility solutions.

To make sure the future end-user supports these solutions demonstrations have to be set up to show the potential benefits of ITS Large scale FOTs will have to be performed before getting to the final implementation. Helmond has been and will be active on all those aspects. Indeed in order to facilitate demonstrations and FOTs Helmond and the regional organisation BBZOB managed to close the A270 highway to normal traffic between Eindhoven and Helmond for some weekends. During these days TNO performed their shockwave-pilots on this highway and both the ITS-community and the general public could participate in the SPITS demo and GCDC at the Automotive Week (May 2011).

In 2009 we already had the honour to host the first European large scale demo on cooperative systems when we turned our urban main road into a pilot and demonstration road for the CVIS/Safespot event.

Helmond is also a partner in the FREILOT project. The objective of this project is a 25% reduction in fuel for trucks in urban areas. In Helmond we are testing amongst others the intersection priority service within FREILOT. Besides the original predicted benefits of the project we now see many more benefits of the FREILOT services such as noise reduction improved traffic flows and increased road safety. However what we believe to be the most important issue about the FREILOT-project and indeed one of the original aims is the search during the pilot phase for sustainable implementation (business models) after the end of the pilot in 2012. Business and organisational models developed in this project could be a very good example for a wider ITS deployment.

Deployment from technology to mobility solutions is also the key driver for the DITCM-project. We are now preparing to set up a permanent and integrated test-site for Cooperative Mobility the Dutch Integrated Test-site Cooperative Mobility DITCM on and around the High Tech Automotive Campus in Helmond.

ERTICO: What are the policy steps that the City of Helmond has taken?

Gert Blom:
The City of Helmond is a very hands-on organisation driven by results and a common sense approach. But our work has a sound base in our mobility and air quality policy. For example already in 2007 we stated our belief in technology solutions and willingness to support ITS pilots in our Helmond Mobility paper “Helmond Mobiel 2015”. This is not only Helmond’s view; there is a broad and general political support for this approach in the entire Helmond-Eindhoven Brainport region. At a national level we will contribute through our involvement in DITCM to a common roadmap on ITS supported by all major stakeholders gathered in organisations such as Connekt and

ERTICO: Can you share best practices with your peers?

Gert Blom:
We have learnt some lessons especially from our involvement in FREILOT.

First of all there is the need to incorporate the involvement and belief in ITS solutions in policy papers and programmes. A sound policy base is the first step towards the real involvement in ITS projects and ITS deployment. Lacking this you will have to explain over and over again to your local politicians and decision makers every single action and project on ITS and why they are relevant.

Moreover it is very important to inform your local city council about critical stages of the projects and their results and to ensure their involvement in milestones. For example our city council was invited to the European launch event of FREILOT in 2010 but of course writing policy papers is only the beginning. Come out of your office!

The deployment of ITS is all about working together in projects with all stakeholders both from public as well as private bodies. Industry R&D education and governments all are needed to make the step from technology innovations towards deployment of mobility solutions. Or to use FREILOT project manager Zeljko Jeftic’s words deployment of cooperative technology requires a cooperative mindset!

ERTICO: In a time of economic crisis how can public authorities find ways to justify investments in ITS?

Gert Blom:
Maybe this is not the right question. I would say that especially in a time of economic crisis the need for investments in ITS is more urgent than ever. Resources for investment in new infrastructure will be very scarce in the future meaning that a better use of existing infrastructure  through ITS will be the only option.

And there is also another reason. If European companies and research institutes prove to be leaders in developing ITS technology this will help us to introduce them to new markets and to increase our exports.
I would say that ITS is a means to get out of the crisis!

ERTICO: How can the EU facilitate deployment of ITS in European cities?

Gert Blom:
In my view besides any financial funding which of course is always more than welcome to stimulate new developments the EU could facilitate deployment on 2 levels. The first and the most obvious one is to stimulate technical standardisation of ITS systems.

However helping cities in organising deployment is becoming more and more important. We have to find the right business-models in order to deploy ITS services but we have also to find the right organisations for deploying ITS in other cities. I am not sure if this could be done by private service providers only or if we need private-public organisations.

ERTICO: You will participate in the Forum on Urban Mobility organised by ERTICO on 1 December. What do you expect from this event?

Gert Blom: I would expect an open discussion and some sharing of ideas on this issue of organisations. By using FREILOT as an example in my presentation I will raise the question: what if the pilot is successful? How will we ensure a sustainable implementation of FREILOT services to other hauliers and to other cities after the pilot has ended and the co-funding from the EU has come to an end?

Doing a pilot is of course all about finding real mobility solutions. It is all about deployment. 


About the City of Helmond

Being an industrial city and hosting the High Tech Automotive (HTA) Campus on its grounds the Dutch city of Helmond has become an important centre for automotive R&D activities.

As developments in the automotive sector are increasingly connected with mobility issues such as road safety congestion and air quality Helmond is confident that research and innovation in the automotive sector will contribute to solving current and future mobility challenges. Over the last 10 years Helmond has therefore invested in an extensive adaptive urban control network providing a ready platform for innovative control solutions illustrated by the fact that the city served as test site for the CVIS and SAFESPOT projects on cooperative systems.

The Helmond test site covers an intra-urban provincial road (N270) through the city centre linking Helmond to Eindhoven.

Traffic on this section is very diverse with a relatively high share of trucks buses and high numbers of pedestrians and cyclists especially in peak periods. The road covers 14 signalled intersections controlled by the network control system UTOPIA (Urban Traffic Optimisation by Integrated Automation). The inter-urban highway A270 between Helmond and Eindhoven has also been used as test site. As the N270 and A270 are close to the test facilities on the HTA Campus testing equipment on different scales is available in one geographically concentrated area.

For more information please visit the City of Helmond website.

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Original Publication Date: Thu 24 Nov 2011