Sustainable innovation in cities PART 3: The challenge of transportation

24 January 2013

Blog by Kirsten Jack, Acting Head of Smart Technologies, The Climate Group.

This blog is part of a short series of posts that sets out to profile some of the LLGA | Cities Pilot the Future (previously the Living Labs Global Award) success stories, as well as current open challenges for LLGA 2013. 

LLGA is a global call for solutions that brings together cities to implement solutions that will improve the lives of their citizens. The Climate Group chairs the panel of experts that assess the sustainability of each solution that is submitted. Our work with LLGA is part of the Agile Cities program, which aims to connect cities, citizens and innovators to drive accessibility, efficiency and growth. 

In the blog series I explore how innovative solutions for economic developmentenergy efficiencymobility and information products can each play a role in supporting cities that are at the forefront of the clean revolution.

You can submit solutions for LLGA 2013 current challenges until January 31.

LLGA has an history of tackling transport and movement challenges. Good examples include Santiago de Chile, Lavasa (India) and Barcelona, three cities that both found -- and are piloting -- solutions to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of city transport through LLGA. I explore these cities further below.

Transport challenges are also central to the work of Agile Cities, the initiative which aims to connect cities, citizens and innovators to drive accessibility, efficiency and growth. This is because:

  • A good transport system is critical to the economic development of cities.
  • Transport accounts for high levels of CO2 emissions, with urban  transport accounting for 8.5% of EU27 emissions, and transportation accounting for 23% of all emissions globally (International Energy Agency 2008).
  • Mayors recognize the importance and potential impact of transport and have demonstrated their capacity to enact change in the sector. Of the C40 cities surveyed, transportation was one of the areas in which Mayors had the greatest powers and ability to implement new solutions. It is also the sector supporting the largest number of climate change interventions, with C40 cities implementing 919 actions in the transport sector (See C40 baseline report).
  • Transportation is one of the most accessible sectors in which to deliver integrated ‘future city’ solutions. The Agile Cities survey of 50 global cities, showed transportation as the area in which most ‘smart’ interventions had occurred, and transportation was the primary focus of most cross-departmental projects and integrated solutions.


In this year’s LLGA there are three major challenges which focus on transport: 

Maringá, Brazil, is looking for alternative metropolitan transport solutions to equip the city for continued, sustainable growth. As a metropolitan region of 700,000 inhabitants, the city is looking for comfortable and attractive alternative solutions to public transport and local mass metropolitan and regional transportation, to become an increasingly sustainable and expanding region.

The City of Aalborg, Denmark seeks solutions to getting the right information to the right people at the right time through media, to avoid traffic congestion when the Limfjord crossings are blocked. The City of Aalborg is the fourth largest city in Denmark, with a population of 130,000. The Limfjord splits the city in two, with the major part being on the southern side. The tunnel and the road bridge carry approximately 100,000 cars, 35,000 on the bridge and 65,000 through the tunnel, every day. However, incidents in and around the tunnel and bridge can cause unexpected infrastructure collapse and delays, while routine maintenance is also necessary at times. Aalborg’s challenge is to filter and deliver the available data in an innovative way directly to road users, so they can change their plans in the event of road blockage.

Finally Boston, USA, is looking for ways of sustaining street utility castings in a bike- and car-friendly way, in order to reduce the bumpiness of roads and hence improve their usability for cyclists and other road users. Data collected from 60,000 trips on Boston’s Street Bump app tells us that Boston’s road bumpiness is primarily driven by metal castings that are no longer flush with the road. Boston is therefore looking for new designs for castings that, at a low cost, can better withstand the pressures of heavy traffic and tough winters. They are also looking for designs or technologies that can make the road smooth again, while minimizing destruction of the surrounding asphalt surface.


The main benefits for cities participating in a pre-procurement program like this, are shown by the successful LLGA Pilots that are in progress or are already completed. A number of highly impactful and solutions are currently being trialed, including:

Barcelona, Spain: BitCarrier’s CitySolver showcase was announced winner of the Barcelona category at the living labs global award 2011. CitySolver’s visualization platform allows the clients to get real time traffic information on different routes defined. Information regarding travel times, average speeds, and traffic volume is delivered to users and managers directly; sensors can be installed on existing urban furniture and do not require street closures or other expensive roadwork. Since the announcement, Bitcarrier worked with the Urban Lab team of 22@ Barcelona to plan the implementation of a pilot as part of a larger consortium. Winning the Living Labs Global Award was critical to gain visibility and build trust with Barcelona’s city officials, creating the reference that CitySolver is indeed a new, viable and efficient solution for managing and controlling urban traffic. Seven months after selecting CitySolver, the City invested into a larger deployment of the traffic sensor system based on the successful pilot.

Lavasa, India: Skybus, is the smart "à la carte" microbus service that takes passengers where they want at the time they want, sharing the trip with other passengers with similar trips. The skybus SaaS platform manages web and mobile trip requests, allocates them to vehicles and adapts routes in real-time, taking passengers to destinations in the fastest possible way. Personalized, convenient and low-cost, skybus is the sustainable alternative to private car for commuting, especially suited for those who live and work in peripheric areas, or as a smart complement to expanding the reach of existing public transport networks.

From San Francisco to Santiago de Chile, LLGA is also bringing SFPark to South America. SFpark is the first comprehensive demonstration of a parking-based approach to congestion management to reduce traffic congestion and transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. SFpark uses innovative technology to generate real-time parking space availability information and conduct demand-responsive pricing. SFpark also adjusts rates based on demand to find the lowest hourly rate possible to achieve the right level of parking availability to make parking easier, and to incentivize alternative use of public transport at peak times.

Tomorrow I will be blogging about economic development, for the final installment of the LLGA success stories blog series. Read my other blog posts that focus on economic developmentenergy efficiency and information products.

You can submit solutions for LLGA 2013 current challenges until January 31.

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