man riding a bicycle in a bike lane, next to a tram

Mastering mobility: understanding the health benefits of active mobility

In an era defined by the drive towards decarbonised transportation, active mobility is often highlighted as a crucial part of the solution. But active mobility, which encompasses modes of human-powered transportation such as walking, cycling, skateboarding, rollerblading, running, etc; is more than just a way of getting from one place to another sustainably. Active mobility not only helps to decarbonise transportation, but also has numerous health benefits; acting as a pathway to improved physical, mental and social well-being; both individually and collectively.

Environmental improvements for better physical health

As active mobility helps reduce reliance on motorised transport, it is in turn a contributor to greater environmental sustainability. With increased participation in active mobility modalities, emissions are cut, and air pollution is reduced. As such, active mobility is often considered the most sustainable form of personal transport.

Reducing carbon dioxide emissions

A 2021 study published in Transportation Research found that the average person who shifted from car use to cycling decreased lifecycle CO2 emissions by 3.2 kilogrammes of CO2 per day. Additionally, a 2011 study from the European Cyclists’ Federation supports this data, finding that a 10% increase in cycling could lead to a 5-6% reduction in urban transport emissions. This impact contributes to greater public health through the positive knock-on effects of improved air quality.

Reducing noise pollution

In addition to air quality improvements, noise pollution stemming from motorised traffic has potential for reduction with the uptake of active mobility. One in five European residents are exposed to long-term noise levels that are harmful to their health, with a great share stemming from transport noise. With wider adoption of active modalities, noise pollution can be mitigated to reach the EU’s Zero Pollution Plan for 2050’s goal of reducing the share of people chronically disturbed by transport noise by 30% in the next six years.

Direct physical benefits of active mobility

According to the World Health Organisation, physical inactivity is a primary risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, which are the leading global cause of death, claiming an estimated 17.9 million lives each year.

However, engaging in regular physical activity, such as walking or cycling, can mitigate this risk and have measurable and direct positive impact. In fact, a large-scale study in The Lancet followed more than 400,000 individuals over eight years and found that those who engaged in any form of moderate-intensity physical activity had a 20-30% lower risk of premature death compared to inactive individuals.

Walking towards greater cardiovascular health

A 2023 study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found a strong correlation between walking and cardiovascular health. The analysis of over 225,000 people from 17 different studies around the world concluded that the more you walk, the greater the health benefits. Professor Maciej Banach, lead researcher on the study explained “The more you walk, the better… We found that this applied to both men and women, irrespective of age, and irrespective of whether you live in a temperate, sub-tropical or sub-polar region of the world, or a region with a mixture of climates.”

Cycling to reduced heart disease risks

The active mobility mode of cycling has also shown significant cardiovascular benefits. Research from the Copenhagen City Heart Study, which followed over 20,000 people for 14 years, revealed that regular cyclists had a 30% lower risk of heart disease than non-cyclists. These findings underscore the impact that choosing active mobility can have on heart health.

Increasing longevity and preventing chronic diseases

In addition to improved cardiovascular health, active mobility also contributes to increased longevity and the prevention of chronic diseases such as type two diabetes and cancer while also improving bone density and strength.

The European Association for the Study of Diabetes states that engaging in physical activity can improve insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels, thus reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Additionally, the European Code Against Cancer notes that regular physical activity lowers the risk of colon, breast and endometrial cancers.

The benefits of active mobility extend to musculoskeletal health. The International Osteoporosis Foundation states that regular weight-bearing physical activity, such as walking, can help maintain bone density and strengthen muscles, while decreasing the likelihood of osteoporosis-related fractures, especially in postmenopausal women. Cycling, while not a weight-bearing exercise, works to maintain and enhance muscle strength and joint flexibility. A 2020 study published in SAGE Open Medicine Journal found that regular cycling can improve joint function and reduce symptoms of arthritis, making it an ideal mode of active mobility for older adults and those with joint conditions.

Mental health and social inclusion

Beyond physical health, active mobility offers significant positive impacts on mental health and emotional well-being. According to data provided by the European Union, over 25 million people are affected by anxiety disorders, and 21 million people are affected by depressive disorders. Additionally, a Eurobarometer survey conducted in June 2023 found that 46% of Europeans had experienced emotional or psychosocial problems (such as feeling depressed or anxious) within the previous 12 months. Though these are complex and multifaceted mental health conditions, engaging in physical activity has been evidenced to mitigate these effects.

A systematic review published in JAMA Psychiatry found that individuals engaging in regular physical activity reduced depressive episodes by up to 25%, compared to inactive individuals, and a 2018 meta-analysis of relevant studies found that physical activity was linked to 17% decrease in the likelihood of developing depression. As engaging in active mobility can produce and release endorphins in the brain, boosting the healthy levels of endorphins can help individuals to deal with symptoms of anxiety or depression, enhance mood and improve overall mental health.

Furthermore, engaging in active mobility greatly enhances social interactions and community engagement by creating opportunities for people to connect in public spaces and on city streets. When individuals walk or cycle, they are more likely to encounter neighbours and engage in spontaneous conversations and moments of connection, strengthening bonds and fostering a sense of belonging.

Additionally, there are increasingly numerous community-oriented initiatives enabling active mobility that can improve social cohesion. From initiatives for schoolchildren like Nudgd’s platform that incentivises active mobility in commutes to school and ‘bike buses/trains’ that get kids together for safer cycling; to Bike Buddy communities and projects that enable elderly people and those with limited mobility to participate in active modes, these initiatives all work to foster strong community ties.

Active mobility for more liveable cities

The increased uptake of active mobility fosters a positive feedback loop: as more people choose to walk or cycle, public spaces become more inclusive and inviting, encouraging even greater participation. Engaging in active mobility not only creates positive individual health impacts: enhancing cardiovascular health, strengthening bones, and improving mental health; but also improves environmental conditions and enhances social cohesion for healthier and more sustainable cities. By adopting active mobility, individuals can harness these health benefits and contribute to a healthier and longer life for themselves and their communities.

aerial image of a busy intersection with cars, buildings, and trees

Mastering mobility: noise pollution

According to the European Environment Agency (EEA), one in five people living in the European Union are exposed to noise pollution and long-term noise levels that are considered harmful to their health. From sleep disturbances to cardiovascular issues, noise has also been shown to even have impacts on children’s ability to learn. These negative impacts affecting roughly 100 million residents are due to traffic noise. This translates to one million healthy years lost per year to illness, disability or early death due to road, rail and air transport-related noise.

Given that the European Environment Bureau lists noise pollution as one of the most significant threats to public health, after air pollution, there are numerous action plans in place. The reduction of noise is currently a key objective under the EU’s Zero Pollution Plan for 2050, which aims to reduce the share of people chronically disturbed by transport noise by 30% by 2030. And the Environmental Noise Directive is the main EU law focused on identifying and addressing noise pollution. So, what kinds of interventions can be employed to minimise noise pollution?

Mapping the problem

Solutions to eliminate noise pollution are varied in their approach. Some innovations aim to muffle, dampen or mute sounds; while others focus on eliminating noise from the outset. But before eliminating noise pollution, it is necessary to find where it occurs.

The European Environment Agency’s aptly named NOISE project, an acronym for Noise Observation and Information Service for Europe, has mapped noise levels stemming from road, rail, air and industry. By highlighting zones that require immediate, mid-term and long-term mitigations; the right innovations can be found for each situation and cities and citizens alike can be empowered with knowledge.

Innovations in noise dampening

Since the 1960s, ‘noise barriers’ (also referred to as sound barriers, soundwalls or acoustical barriers) have been used to mitigate the sounds of high-intensity traffic, commonly in the form of large walls or barriers erected next to highways, to dampen and refract the sounds of road traffic for people living or working nearby. While traditionally noise barriers have consisted of these wall-like structures, there are innovations taking place that rethink what a noise barrier could look like. These innovations are highly anticipated, as the traditional noise barrier wall has long been criticised for its visual drawbacks.

The EU-funded WHISSPER project promotes technology by Dutch company 4Silence, and offers visually unobtrusive solutions that harnesses the power of diffraction. The company has prototyped three different solutions that bend traffic noise in an upward direction, to reduce horizontal noise. Their proprietary WHISstone is placed next to the road at ground level, reduces traffic noise by 2.5 decibels, equal to silent asphalt and at a fraction of the cost. Similarly, their WHISwall, only a metre in height, accomplishes the same noise reduction as a traditional three metre noise barrier. And their WHIStop, covers barriered zones and accomplishes the equivalent of an additional two metres of barrier height. This solution is suitable for rail in particular.

Additionally, the European Union’s Horizon Europe, an ambitious research and innovation framework, is also funding research into silent roads, eliminating the need for sound dampening in the first place. The Silent Rubber Pave project utilises RARx technology, a new way of making asphalt roads by utilising end-of-life tire rubber for a circular solution that produces five decibels less sound than traditional road paving.

Low tech but high reward

Less technologically heavy innovations for sound elimination are also gaining traction. For example, ‘green tracks’ in which grass, or other suitable plants, are planted underneath and surrounding tram or railway tracks, are an arguably ‘low tech’ option for reducing noise pollution from rail transport. According to the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America green tracks help to reduce this noise by up to three decibels and offer several additional positive knock-on effects. Firstly, depending on the construction process, the implementation of green tracks can decrease the demand for concrete, which is a heavy carbon dioxide emitter. The greenery can also collect rainwater, serve as habitat for insects and food for bees, reduce urban temperatures and capture fine particulate matter.

Additionally, policy and planning interventions like reduced speed zones, low emissions zones that only admit micromobility or electric vehicles, and increased pedestrianised spaces all work towards eliminating noise pollution. Lower speeds have been shown to produce less noise, while low emissions zones encourage alternative transport modes that are often quieter than traditional cars. For example, the city of Zurich, Switzerland has reduced the speed limit from 50 kilometres per hour to 30 on parts of its street network, for an average noise abatement between three and five decibels. The city anticipates that the project will positively benefit 48,000 residents during the day and 95,000 residents will benefit during the night. 

A quieter Europe

Thus, the larger transition from car-centric transport to sustainable urban mobility is likely to have positive effects on reducing noise pollution. By encouraging active mobility, and prioritising the return of public space to citizens, road noise from individual cars will be drastically reduced.

While noise pollution plagues citizens around the world, the combination of innovative solutions and policy interventions currently being implemented throughout Europe inspires hope for a quieter future.

Want to know more?

  • Take EIT Urban Mobility’s free online course Tackling noise pollution in cities
  • Or learn about the Quiet Brussels plan with Urban Mobility Explained’s video (subtitles available):
demand responsive transport vehicle going up a hill

Mastering mobility: demand responsive transport

How can mobility providers avoid running empty or near-empty buses through rural areas but still provide public transport for the people who live or work there? And how can cities avoid private car usage during times where public transport availability is low?

Demand responsive transport, a relatively niche share of the mobility industry, could provide solutions to these common issues.

What is demand responsive transport?

Demand responsive transport (DRT) is a mode of transportation defined by its responsiveness to passenger demand. Or, to put it another way, DRT can be thought of as a mix between a bus and a taxi, in that it is characterised by flexible routing and scheduling that reacts dynamically to requests from passengers.

In practice, DRT is varied, leading it to be difficult to define. For example, Germany defines their digitally enabled DRT services as ‘on-demand ride pooling,’ while Portugal has gone deeper, explaining DRT as ‘public collective transport service with flexible features that is carried out, in part or in full, at the express request of the user and may include the use of information and communication technologies.’

Despite the difficulty in pinning down exactly what DRT is (and is not), the sector has been growing. EIT Urban Mobility’s October 2022 report Demand Responsive Transport: Recommendations for Successful Deployment notes that between 2019 and 2021 over 450 DRT projects were launched worldwide, predominantly in Europe, North America and Asia.

These 450+ DRT projects can largely fall within four different categories:

  • Hybrid: service similar to regular public transport, with a fixed schedule and stops, in which certain stops or off-peak hours operate solely on-demand
  • Semi-flexible: service that is adapted to demand, but the number of possible pick-up times and locations are limited by pre-determined design
  • Full-flexible: door-to-door, or point-to-point services, with open schedules and dynamic routing tailored to the demand
  • DRT with flexible layout and stops: the stops within this kind of service are fully adapted to the demand
Tradeoff between flexibility and demand aggregation (Source: nemi)

With numerous configurations on offer, DRT is a diverse sector that aims to tackle different challenges depending on the density or dispersion of the population it serves.

DRT in urban areas

Urban areas are typically places with high mobility demand, and therefore are already serviced by a more traditional public transport offering. However, in these areas, DRT can serve to replace private cars for less congestion and road traffic.

For example, in Helsinki, Finland; the Kutsuplus DRT service operated from 2012 to 2015 as an alternative to private car use. The city already had high adoption of public transport (with 34% of the polled population preferring the option) but 30% also preferred transport by public vehicle. Therefore, the Kutsuplus service was deployed as a stop-to-stop DRT service with ten buses operating from 9:00-17:00, with an additional five microbuses later added to the fleet and operational hours extended to 6:00-24:00.

Though the service offered end-users lower costs than a taxi, and quicker travel than traditional public transport, it was suspended in 2015. The key reasons for discontinuing the service included the high rate of use for existing public transport alternatives, the difficulty to book trips (as this was prior to the ubiquity of app-based services and the booking had to take place on a desktop), and the cost of the service for both end-users and public authorities, through subsidies.

Upon reflection, the Kutsuplus case offers numerous opportunities for improvement; especially in the realms of marketing, communication and user experience. Improvements and advancements in technology aside, Kutsuplus exemplifies the difficulties that DRT solutions face when trying to compete with private cars in dense urban areas where traditional public transport options are already available.

DRT for first and last mile in urban areas

Other DRT offerings in urban areas have taken a different approach, to serve as a connector for first- and last-mile services to link to public transport. For example, the DART GoLink in Dallas, Texas is a service targeted at high-demand areas to bridge specific zones across the city. The Dallas Public Transport Operator has worked with ride hailing and taxi companies to increase the system’s flexibility, in turn, maximising uptake.

DRT in rural areas

In rural areas, where there are typically significant geographic or temporal gaps in traditional public transport service, demand responsive transport can be a solution.

In the municipality of Sardoal, in the Médio Tejo region of Portugal, bus service frequency varies widely during the summer, Christmas and Easter holiday periods. Additionally, certain bus lines are not available at all during weekends. As a region with such variant public transport availability and demand, Médio Tejo has been a perfect case for DRT service. Pre-COVID-19 data shows that DRT has been growing in the region, jumping from 60 riders per month in October 2017 to 150 passengers per month in July 2019. Additionally, peak usage can be seen in summer months when traditional public transport service is lacking.

Age of users for Médio Tejo’s DRT service, SIT FLEXI (Source: IMT)

By replacing private cars with DRT, riders are able to bridge this distance in a more sustainable way, particularly benefiting those who may be unable to operate a private vehicle. In the case of Médio Tejo, 91% of the users in the area are 51 years or older and 50% utilised the service for healthcare reasons. Additionally, the average age of users for DRT service in Portugal’s Coimbra region was 69,6 years old, with 69% travelling for healthcare.

Thus, DRT is a valuable resource for aging populations in rural areas; offering an alternative to private car ownership which may be costly or impossible for people with specific healthcare needs. By serving ageing populations, DRT can offer mobility solutions to those who might be otherwise isolated.

DRT for first and last mile(s) in rural areas

By the very nature of rural living, residents often have to travel further in order to take part in traditional public transport mobility. In 2021, the transport on demand system Clic.cat was put into operation in Vall d’en Bas in the La Garrotxa region of northeastern Spain for this very reason, to provide first and last mile connections to main transport lines. Vall d’en Bas is a sparsely populated municipality with an average density of just 33 inhabitants per square kilometer, and previously had no bus service connecting villages in the area to the region’s urban core of Olot.

With deployment in the low-demand rural area, Clic.cat established routes and timetables that would be operable solely on request. Throughout the first nine months of service, 3628 passengers used the DRT system, connecting the rural area to the urban core of Olot; and thus, its public transport system, goods and services. The DRT system serves 30 different stops on a 45km route in the region, but only operates when at least one reservation is booked; meaning that only 80% of trips are actually undertaken. This reduced service translated to a 68% savings on emissions and fuel, while still serving the needs and demands of its ridership.

The future of DRT

The first pilots of demand responsive transport were launched in the 1970s, but the sector has heavily benefited from the development of connected, app-based technology. Such technology allows users to ‘demand’ the transport in a more seamless manner, and transport operators have benefited from partnerships with technology providers to offer more user-centric solutions to their riders.

While DRT solutions have seen mixed success historically, they are increasingly becoming more mainstream as technological uptake advances and DRT services are integrated into wider mobility systems. As one of the experts that took part in EIT Urban Mobility’s custom mobility workshop explained, “Before, DRT was a ‘nice to have,’ now it is a ‘must have’.”

In urban, or denser peri-urban areas, DRT has the capacity to extend the existing networks of public transport to provide first- and last-mile options in areas or times that are otherwise underserved. Demand responsive transport can also act as an alternative to private car usage in urban areas; reducing air and noise pollution, limiting traffic congestion and offering a more sustainable mode of transportation.

Research conducted by the International Transport Forum shows that DRT plays a role in accelerating the transition to sustainable mobility, specifically in rural and peri-urban areas. In rural areas in particular, demand responsive transport is often at the frontier of flexible shared mobility options; providing the sole alternative to car ownership for residents aiming to bridge longer distances. Additionally, the service offers valuable mobility for users who are unable to own or operate private vehicles.

To maximise the potential of future and existing DRT services, it is imperative to address the barriers that users experience when accessing the mobility system. From understanding user behaviour, to adjusting prices and availability; regions that are interested in improving uptake in their DRT services need to embrace a multifaceted approach that considers value beyond service costs and revenue.

Interested in learning more?

bikes on a bike lane, next to a busy street

Mastering mobility: low emissions zones

Many European cities face air quality problems related to road transport, with a staggering 94% of the urban population exposed to NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) pollution levels higher than the World Health Organisation’s guidelines. The European Environment Agency recently reported that exposure to fine particulate matter, from transport and other various sources, resulted in 307,000 premature deaths in the 27 EU Member States in 2019.

To mitigate these serious health concerns, redistribute public space back to citizens, improve road safety and limit traffic congestion, EU countries are increasingly implementing Urban Vehicle Access Regulations (UVARs). UVARs are multifaceted as they aim to address the various aspects of air pollution within cities; but can be broken into five main categories: tolling/congestion charging, pedestrian areas, parking schemes, limited traffic zones, and low emission zones. In Europe, 73% of UVARs are low and zero emission zones.

But what exactly are low emission zones, and how are they associated with the improvement of urban air quality?

What are low emissions zones?

As previously mentioned, low emission zones are one type of Urban Vehicle Access Regulations, which are employed to address air quality and pollution issues in cities.

Low emission zones (also referred to as LEZs) are permanent or temporary defined geographical areas where vehicles that do not meet certain emissions regulations are restricted or deterred. These zones favour vehicles with no or low tailpipe emissions, such as electric vehicles, hybrids, and micromobility vehicles like bicycles and scooters. Additionally, some low emission zones go one step further to be zero emission zones, in which all vehicles with internal combustion engines are barred and only vehicles that are truly emission-free are allowed entry.

Unlike limited traffic zones, like pedestrianised streets, that only allow motorists with a permit; most low emission zones are focused on eliminating non-compliant vehicles entirely (though there are some exceptions).

The benefits of low emissions zones

The implementation of low emission zones offers numerous and wide-ranging benefits.

Firstly, as low emissions zones completely eliminate motorised traffic of specified emissions levels in certain areas, the immediate objective of reducing transport-related polluting gases and airborne dust is realised.

Secondly, with fewer vehicles on the road, traffic congestion is eased, and the remaining vehicles find greater freedom of movement. However, as vehicle fleets are getting cleaner, such benefits may prove short-lived if not flanked with complementary measures such as congestion charging or urban toll systems.

Additionally, in the short-term when non-compliant vehicles access the low emission zone, income for municipal administrations will be generated through the fines applied. In the long-term, improved air quality offers a more attractive living, working and leisure environment; drawing investment in the area and city.

Harnessing the power of low emission zones

Insights presented in EIT Urban Mobility’s ‘Urban vehicle access regulations: from design to implementation’ report highlight the importance of a legal framework that enables LEZs and strong political commitment as prerequisites for success. Additionally, the discussions facilitated by EIT Urban Mobility in their June 2022 workshop found that low emission zones are most effective when implemented in combination with other UVARs, such as limited traffic zones or pedestrian areas.

Additionally, as regulations change from country to country and city to city, access to information about local requirements is important to mitigate complaints and offer transparency for motorists. Several legislative acts and initiatives are currently underway in order to provide greater data sharing, such as the UVAR Box Project.

The future of low emission zones

According to the Clean Cities Campaign, 228 low emission zones were active across the EU in 2019. Upon publication of their study ‘Clean Cities: The development trends of low and zero-emission zones in Europe’ in 2022, 320 were active, a 40% increase.

In Barcelona, the low emission zone within the city’s ring roads includes an area of more than 95 square kilometres. In 2019, Milan launched one of the largest low emission zones in Europe, covering roughly 70% of the city area, encompassing 97% of the population and 132 square kilometres. In May 2023, Eastern Europe introduced their first low emission zones, with Warsaw, Sofia and Riga rolling out regulations to increase air quality and reduce pollution.

In the next several years, as cities within the European Union get more aggressive with their decarbonisation plans, the Clean Cities Campaign anticipates further growth of low emission zones. Between 2022 and 2025, they predict a 58% increase, for over 500 low emission zones within the EU.

Want to learn more?

metro station at night

Mastering mobility: mobility data spaces

We are more connected through technology than ever before. Over 80% of Europe’s population uses the internet via smartphones, which has immense impact on our data consumption. In fact, data consumption in the region is expected to triple within the next four years.

The possibilities provided by this ubiquitous use of the internet are immense. With millions of people in Europe, and billions around the world, connected through mobile devices that contain data processing and storage; this data is already transforming our lives in meaningful ways. With technologies such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and big data stemming from this industry; there are now innumerable ways to employ data for positive impact.

Sharing across boundaries: data on the European level

While this data offers unprecedented opportunities, it is impossible to utilise until it has been through a rigorous process of quality assurance. Not only does data require cleaning and normalisation, but to ensure safety and security, standards and infrastructure must be in place to support its use. When considering data sharing on a large scale, mobility data offers additional complexities not faced by other industries. Due to the nature of mobility data, it needs to be shared not only between companies or cities, but also crossing national boundaries and sectors; from freight and buildings to materials and energy.

Despite this complexity, sharing data with different municipalities or nations offers great potential for more informed and data-driven decision making. For example, in the field of urban mobility the European Strategy for Sustainable and Smart Mobility published by the European Commission, has outlined how integral access to relevant and high-quality data is in achieving its objectives.

Currently, the state of mobility data in Europe is characterised by ambiguity and redundancy in regulations around its use and reuse. This is compounded by the lack of an advanced local data market; and incompatibility between the systems, tools and standards used in each EU member state. Additionally, incomplete data sharing due to the absence of an overarching obligation for data collection and circulation continues to hamper innovation. EIT Urban Mobility’s study, Unlocking the Future of Mobility with European Data Spaces, conducted by Factual and i2CAT, found that this scattered data has real-life consequences on mobility practitioners. Notably, the study reported that over 80% of respondents (largely comprised of SMEs, startups, and companies) find it difficult to access the data they need to provide their services or develop new products and solutions.

What are data spaces, and why do we need them?

One way to overcome these hurdles and democratise the sharing of data, is to implement data spaces. As explained by EIT Urban Mobility’s recent study “data spaces are decentralised ecosystems that facilitate the voluntary, sovereign and secure sharing of data.” Decentralisation is key to the viability and efficacy of data spaces, as it offers necessary trust across the ecosystem, enabling data flows.

As data spaces provide a secure and standardised framework for data sharing, they allow for improved collaboration by enabling the circulation of data between different entities without any restrictions. The Digital Act, part of the European Commission’s broader Digital Single Market Strategy, aims to create a regulatory framework that enables the free flow of data within the EU.

The urban mobility industry has the potential to benefit greatly from the implementation of the Digital Act, and the free-flowing data that an established Mobility Data Space could offer. Projects like PrepDSpace4Mobility, coordinated by EIT Urban Mobility and a pan-European consortium of partners, have laid the foundation for a Mobility Data Space across Europe. The 12-month Coordination and Support Action is setting the stage for a secured way of pooling and sharing mobility data between EU member states, through the implementation of governance frameworks, mapping current data ecosystems, and identifying existing gaps.

While projects like PrepDSpace4Mobility and its continuation, DeployEDMS are a necessary first step in the right direction, a formally established common framework for a European Mobility Data Space would be the ideal long-term solution for the greatest degrees of security, safety, and accessibility.

The promise of a European mobility data space

Overcoming traditional hurdles caused by data quality and data veracity allows organisations to focus their resources on strategic interventions and offers unprecedented collaboration across geography and sector. EIT Urban Mobility’s Unlocking the Future of Mobility with European Data Spaces found that 75% of urban mobility professionals who responded to the survey believe that mobility data spaces could provide the data they need in order to improve their organisation’s efficiency. Thus, a common mobility data space could provide European mobility practitioners with the necessary tools to innovate for safer and more sustainable cities.

According to the World Health Organisation, the European region still experiences roughly 70,000 deaths per year from road traffic crashes. However, with access to resources like BMW’s geolocated metadata on their customers’ vehicle sensors, traffic planners could leverage this information to provide greater safety taking into account hazards such as weather conditions.

While establishing a common European mobility data space may be costly in the short term, the long-term financial impacts of not making this investment could be far greater. The European Data Strategy asserts that access to real-time information on traffic avoidance and train delays could save up to €730 million and 27 million hours, which is equivalent to over €20.74 billion in labour savings. As mobility is uniquely positioned as a sector that connects other industries, like manufacturing and logistics, innovation in this sphere could have positive knock-on effects for the entire European economy.

Want to learn more about mobility data spaces?

Take a look at the infographic that explains the full study, or take a deep dive into the research: Unlocking the Future of Mobility with European Data Spaces

Enrol in EIT Urban Mobility’s free Competence Hub Course: The Power of Mobility Data

Rewatch our Mobility Talks 23: How can data help us solve our mobility challenges?