Five questions for… Jos Arts (University of Groningen)

Every month we ask one of our partners 5 questions. Read below what they do, how important mobility and innovation is to them and how they see the future of mobility.

We asked 5 questions to prof. dr. Jos Arts, professor Environmental and Infrastructure Planning at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences of the University of Groningen (UG) and since recently member of the Hive.Mobility Board.

Organization: University of Groningen
Number of employees: 5.500

Can you tell us more about your position within the UG?

I am professor of Environmental and Infrastructure Planning and also head of the Planning Department. We are engaged in research and education on planning of housing, energy, water, environment, transport infrastructure, mobility and logistics. This concerns the physical-spatial side, such as spatial design, shared use and sustainable (re)development. In addition, the management and cooperation between governments, the business community and citizens (the institutional-organizational side) is also important and how these two dimensions interact (monitoring, evaluation, adjustment). In other words, it is about the interaction between physical space and administrative space, between transport networks and actor networks, between spatial design and institutional/policy design.

Which challenges in the field of mobility are you researching?

In our research we mainly focus on the interaction between spatial development and transport. For example, think of the sustainable development of mobility and logistics hubs, not only in a city but also in the surrounding countryside. This concerns questions such as: what are the social and environmental effects of the development of mobility and transport infrastructure? How do you keep the countryside accessible and liveable (transport poverty)? How can we properly coordinate mobility, infrastructure and spatial development, taking into account all interests (inclusiveness)? How do you actually do integrated area development? How do you create collaboration between government, businesses and citizens? How do you locally connect the scale levels of the last mile with those of the city region and those of the (inter)national corridors?

And which mobility innovations do you follow closely?

We monitor all kinds of innovations, especially their spatial and social effects: shared mobility, alternative fuels (electrification, hydrogen), automated driving, new modalities (e-bike, hyperloop), but also innovative organizational and institutional approaches. The latter may include public-private partnerships, innovative tender and contract forms, co-creation and integrated planning.

The future of mobility: what are you hoping it will look like?

Sustainable, in other words a future with an eye for vulnerable interests (of people and nature) and future generations. Smart mobility is not only about technology – such as electric driving, hydrogen, automated driving, Mobility as a Service (MaaS), drones, hyperloops, etc. – but above all is also about common sense. Involve social parties in a timely manner and consider integral interests. Smart spatial design so that you prevent unnecessary mobility, limit negative social and environmental effects, strengthen health and create as much social added value as possible from investments in transport infrastructure, mobility and logistics.

As a Hive.Mobility partner, what do you hope to bring and gain within the Hive network?

A broad, inclusive view. In addition, I hope to draw attention to the spatial and social consequences and to connect the technical, physical-spatial world with the world of policy and organisation. What I hope to gain (and already do) is knowledge of local and regional developments in the field of transport, infrastructure and mobility.