Smart roll-out in Antwerp

With the Smart ways to Antwerp project, the City on the Scheldt already has an advanced platform via which it can notify its users about traffic situations and guide them to and through the city as smartly as possible. TMaaS was able to fill some of the things missing in the system, which meant that they were more than happy to take advantage of the potential opportunities that our platform offered them as a Replicator City. Stijn Vernaillen, MaaS expert, outlined the background of their collaborative venture.

“One of the main reasons we decided to participate in the TMaaS project was the wide range of possibilities that the platform offered in terms of user profiles and alerts for users,” Stijn Vernaillen explained. “The system uses a number of interesting triggers for sending alerts to end users. It can answer questions such as: what information do you need? When are there too many reports or the opposite, too few. When are more notifications needed and when are fewer needed? How do you alert users to the fact that there are delays? The principal factors for us are technical aspects combined with end-user experiences. TMaaS is quite advanced in that regard. Moreover, it places the emphasis on multimodality, which also provides us with added value. Here at Smart ways to Antwerp we have been working on user-centric mobility for some time. When we were told that TMaaS could help us with a number of issues that we were working on, we decided to join the venture as a TMaaS Replicator City. Our primary interest was in the modules in the background. We have our own operational front-end with the necessary visualisation, so in that respect we were well on track.”

Learning and experimenting

In addition to the product itself, Stijn Vernaillen saw a number of other reasons for joining the collaborative venture. “We always find it interesting to exchange information and knowledge with other cities,” he said. “There is always something for us to learn from the way other cities approach their traffic situations. In that respect it was also interesting to discover the approaches of the two other TMaaS Replicator Cities, especially Southwark, because the characteristics of that district are more similar to our own than those of Duran. This also offers us the opportunity to experiment with our own platform, which is now very well established. This combination of learning and experimenting via the collaborative ventures makes it all worthwhile for us. In addition, the company that developed our route planner, namely Be-Mobile, is also a TMaaS partner. That meant that we didn’t need to think long before taking the plunge especially when you think of the technical advantages of working on the project with the same company. If TMaaS worked with Google Street Maps, for example, you would get a completely different story, which in practice, is much more complex.”

Communications = key

With the Smart ways to Antwerp project, communications form an important element in the mobility service. “If TMaaS can help us with our communications to the users, we welcome that,” says Stijn Vernaillen. “People often don’t know that there is a tram stop around the corner and that this tram will get them to their destination twice as fast as if they travelled there by car. Or they are not aware that there is somewhere to leave their bike just one street away. It is important to ensure that there is sufficient publicity for the project. One example I will quote is a trial offer that encourages people to find alternative ways of travelling and leave their cars at home. We help business leaders for instance to promote alternative modes of transport among their employees, so that they are discouraged from travelling to work by car.”

Urban Innovative Actions

This project is co-financed by the European Regional and Development Fund through the Urban Innovative Actions Initiative.

Urban Innovative Actions is an Initiative of the European Union that provides urban areas throughout Europe with resources to test new and unproven solutions to address urban challenges.

Based on article 8 of ERDF, the Initiative has a total ERDF budget of EUR 372 million for 2014-2020.