Expert article
Edit 29 April 2021
by JOSEP MARIA Salanova Grau, UIA Expert

VoxPop started rolling out the proposed solutions to facilitate/promote digitalization of mobility in Lisbon

Bicycles in Avenida Guerra Junqueiro, Lisbon
People, Processes & Technology towards the digital transformation of the urban mobility system of Lisbon (VoxPop) is the new project that will foster digitalization and collaboration between private and public mobility actors in the Portuguese capital. VoxPop is funded by the Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) initiative under the Digital transition topic. Since the beginning of the project, two important milestones have been met, namely, the establishment of the Innovators Alliance and the development of its first value proposition, a secure bike parking solution, which built the case for the creation of a new secure bike parking service in the city of Lisbon.
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The VoxPop implementation is on a good course, with the project on its path towards the digital transformation of the Lisbon´s urban mobility ecosystem. In this path, the first step regarded the establishment and take-off of the Innovators Alliance (IA), an open forum to facilitate dialogue with the wider group of stakeholders, in particular private mobility solution providers; the project managed to successfully deliver this. What is more, the early need for a bicycle parking in the city has been also addressed, by the provision of a functional prototype of a secure parking facility inside one of the EMEL´s car parks, which is currently expanding to further 12 car parks.

The covid19 pandemic period

We are living in – to say the least – complicate conditions; and this time, ‘we’, is actually referring to all individuals, communities and societies, that to a bigger or a lesser extent have been exposed to the direct and indirect impacts of the ongoing COVID19 pandemic: physical constraints, mobility restrictions, and measures taken by most, if not all, affected countries, which in turn slowed down economic activities in order to control the spread of the virus and its consequent aftermath. Lisbon, and Portugal, are no strangers to this scenery; several jobs have been lost, particularly for young professionals, while several other experienced significant fiscal repercussions. Lisbon, in particular, has seen one of its fundamental sectors, that of tourism, being significantly affected; as a chain impact, economic activity in city has since shrunken, which in turn had a causation effect, among others, on the mobility patterns in the city.

The mobility sector in Lisbon in this period, however, has been quite positively revamped. City authorities made the best they could and took advantage of the reduced travellers’ movement, in order to physically intervene in the city’s transport infrastructure. For example, 18 km of bike lanes were added to the city’s bike network (17 km more are under construction), and the city encouraged safe, and at the same time, sustainable mobility, by providing purchase-related incentives for bicycles through the “programme to support the purchase of new bicycles for city use”. In view of these, the issue of providing safe parking places for bicycles, has found no better match than the VoxPop project itself, wherein the first, out of a series of 13 parking spots, has been delivered. Moreover, this work also resulted in the production of a handbook with a set of design principles and guidelines to help any organisation willing to set up shared bicycle parks in the city of Lisbon (https://www.emel.pt/pt/emel-voxpop-guia-bicicletarios/)

It has not been all in positive tone however, as the VoxPop path became bumpy as the pandemic progressed: inevitable setbacks were experienced, most notably in regard to the following key issues:

  • The stakeholder mapping exercise for identifying the potential participants of the Innovators Alliance has been updated due to the fact that there were significant modifications during the COVID19 crisis: less car sharing and micromobility companies in the city, but enriched engagement by the mobility stakeholders and promotion of bicycle as a mode of transport.
  • Monitoring and evaluating the results of the project under normal circumstances would have already been challenging – as identified by the UIA program itself; conducting M&E during and after the COVID effects, will be even harder, as what was once regarded as fixed, is now becoming unclear - see for instance the time period that will constitute the baseline period, and the respective as-is KPIs values.

In these turbulent times, the project already managed to retro-feed its one learning curve. One of the lessons learnt so far from the pandemic situation is that mobility in cities should be more resilient in the sense of allowing policy and decision makers to adapt faster to any unexpected change. VoxPop is working in this exact direction by promoting the digitalization of transport and the higher visibility, accessibility and use of mobility data, which will in turn allow for faster informed decisions by policy makers and an increase in the resilience of the Lisbon mobility system.

Data as a driver of value creation

Following the European strategy for data[1] released in February 2020, VoxPop intentionally promotes the responsible yet efficient use of public and private data by facilitating its visibility and access. The ultimate goal of the project, and the Lisbon city, is to increase social well-being through data-driven innovative decision and policy making at both the private and public sides. Today’s data silos and monopolies will be broken by incentives to share data within the mobility ecosystem thanks to the discussion arena and other tools that will be promoted by the project (e.g. urban access point, a data catalogue and APIs, enabling to put in practice the data sharing agreements between stakeholders). The project partners are committed in breaking these silos, having already engaged most of the key mobility actors to actively participate in the Innovators Alliance.

 

[1] Shaping Europe’s digital future.

Engage your eco-system

Political commitment has been ensured at high level by the Portuguese prime-minister, António Costa and the Minister of the Environment and Energy Transition, João Pedro Matos Fernandes providing official support to the project. Due to its success in becoming a UIA funded project, VoxPop caught the national and EU eye, and has drawn attraction from several domains. In this direction, it has accepted the challenge on the expectations that come with attraction, and has placed its priority towards the implementation will be given by the public side. At the same time, VoxPop is becoming a cornerstone for the implementing partners themselves, being placed at the crux of the agenda of both public and private entities. Testament to both the external and internal significance of the project is the enlistment of numerous stakeholders of the mobility scene of Lisbon have joined the Innovators Alliance (the project partners CML, EMEL, CARRIS, Metropolitano de Lisboa, Transportes Metropolitanos de Lisboa and other stakeholders of the local mobility ecosystem, the CTT Expresso, Infrastructures de Portugal, LIME, UBER, Moovit, Citymapper, and Bolt).

“Public & private entities will work together in the co-design of an enhanced digital innovation space in Lisbon, sharing the responsibility for the creation of a trusted data environment”

The VoxPop Innovators Alliance

The Innovators Alliance (IA) of the VoxPop project will become the mobility data forum in which all relevant mobility stakeholders will make their data available and where collaboration schemes will be stimulated through active collaboration, constructive dialogue, transparency and reciprocity principles. Through the IA, a new framework for interacting with the mobility ecosystem, with increased co-creation and focused governance elements, will allow to overcome existing barriers and establish a real data sharing governance and business model. A group of entities that recognizes the importance of voluntarily sharing public interest data to improve mobility in the city of Lisbon,  and undertakes to work together on models for sharing data with a view to creating a data sharing ecosystem.

Implementing the IA in VoxPop, meant first and foremost, defining the Terms of Reference (ToR). The IA has been shaped as a marketplace where private and public parties will be able to share their data, focusing more on the demand for data than on the data offers. In view of this, a set of basic rules have being created and will be implemented by dedicated working groups in a semi-structured collaborative process. As of today, many relevant and highly motivated stakeholders have already joined, including innovative mobility service providers, last-mile logistics companies and road infrastructure managers, but still few key players are missing.

The second implementing step for the IA was the formulation of the IA roadmap for the development of the work to be done. The rules of this ecosystem and the conditions for data access are thus open and should be one of the outcomes of the work to be developed together with the value propositions to be explored through a co-creation process: data sharing, data governance and business model. The roadmap is developed following a Design Thinking process comprising 7 stages – see Figure below.

Stage 1 has been already accomplished in January 2021, allowing the start of the other stages by stimulating relevant discussions within the IA. The participation of the IA participating members is crucial for the succesful and meaningful implementation of the next stages, which require the inclusion of the whole mobility eco-system.

Design Thinking process

Co-create with your ecosystem

Participatory processes have evolved towards co-creation arenas in which all voices are taken into account already in the early stages of the project. VoxPop executed a user research study to collect needs and hurdles of bicycle users in Lisbon, where the lack of secure parking areas emerged as one of the main barriers to the use of bicycles by citizens. First, co-design activities were planned to select best practices to be transferred to Lisbon, and how these will be adapted. As a result, a set of principles and guidelines on how to implement bicycle parking in Lisbon were delivered as a direct and tangible output of the project.

New covered bicycle parking

The first action that was undertaken by VoxPop based on the needs of the citizens of Lisbon was the development of a value proposition, and further implementation of a secure bike parking: BICIPARK. A first prototype has been already installed and 12 more are being planned.

BICIPARK will contribute to the city’s sustainable mobility policies, aiming at improving local air quality, noise reduction and, in general, enhancing the quality of life of all who live, work, and visit the city of Lisbon.

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