Blog: How can I reduce my carbon footprint by using smart mobility?

By Annelies Veenstra

Being aware of the impact that we have as society on the environment is obvious, right? Well, most of you think so but in reality, we are too little informed by municipalities to know what’s right and wrong in our travel behavior! An emerging and contemporary term is ‘smart mobility’ but what does this mean and what can we do to contribute to a cleaner environment? Here’s a summary of the progress of smart mobility and transport in the Netherlands and other international cities. A change in communication is needed…

The concept of smart mobility encompasses the shift from the traditional transportation system to MaaS, where intelligent infrastructure connects various stakeholders and entities to provide an efficient, intelligent, and sustainable solution. It includes multiple modes of transportation including shared transport, on demand mobility solutions, electric vehicles, bikes, rapid mass transit facilities, walking, et cetera. What is the key idea behind smart mobility? To ensure quality service to citizens and at the same time minimizing the impact on the surrounding environment.

A lot of research and projects are already underway designed and implemented by the innovation center in the field of mobility in the Northern Netherlands, part of EnTranCe. The knowledge and resources to set up projects are there, but how do you reach citizens and how do you communicate to change their travel behaviour? How do you as a municipality deal with this and how do you actively contribute to it?

In the Netherlands technological developments are skyrocketing, but human beings lag. Their abilities for learning and adoption are limited and slower, as is the government’s ability to adapt drafting legislation has a long lead time. For this concept to succeed, you need support from municipalities that can contribute to change the behavior of citizens. This was the reason for me to dedicate my graduation research to this. What has already been done to implement and communicate this concept? What are motivators and barriers for municipalities? What are the perspectives and needed collaboration requirements of citizens? What are the (cultural & technological) characteristics of different countries? It appeared that the concept was well implemented, but that there is too little communication about smart mobility by municipalities and that there are too few initiatives from them to encourage this concept among citizens. In addition, communication and collaboration with shared transport providers turned out to be a key to possible success.

Besides to the general problem, the lack of communication via municipalities, I also paid attention to matters that may be relevant for citizens. For example, during the interviews it appeared that citizens are aware of the various transport possibilities, but that they are not well enough informed to make use of them or are not motivated enough to contribute to this concept. In some cases, it is therefore a matter of communicating the right messages and informing citizens to bring about change.

It is now clear that communication is crucial for a sustainable society, only this rests on the shoulders of certain stakeholders: “come on municipalities take action for smart mobility…!”. If you want change in the behavior of citizens and a more sustainable society, contribute this with implementations. This can be achieved through campaigns and advertisements online and offline but also via platforms and applications to make it as easy as possible for citizens. But also keep in mind that citizens are attracted by good deals and convenient shared and public transport. The moral of the story: communication by municipalities is key but it will have to be supported by physical elements to let citizens reduce their carbon footprint by using smart mobility.

Annelies Veenstra – Master International Communication – Graduation research ‘smart mobility’ for EnTranCe