The increasing importance of data in an ever-evolving transport scenario

Ensuring a transport system that serves society and supports the economy requires many things, but the two most important ones are data and dialogue.

In the case of logistics, no data can even mean no delivery. Top players, like DHL, UPS and Wincanton, have an increasingly high number of geographical data at hand to provide courier services to millions of customers around the world. In the case of new mobility concepts, such as Mobility as a Service (MaaS), data is important to ensure proper planning and implementation, to optimise operations, avoid gridlock and reduce emissions. But data on its own is not enough. As it is municipalities and governments who regulate transport, dialogue between the private and public sectors is also crucial.

Why keeping up the dialogue matters
So, what if these “two worlds” – the private and the public sectors – worked together, moderated by a third party? Sharon Masterson, Manager Corporate Partnership Board at the International Transport Forum (ITF), OECD, does exactly that: she encourages dialogue and brings together local and national authorities with businesses to provide policy makers with insights of the private sector and vice versa.

“It is important that the foresight of the private sector is taken into account when it comes to policy challenges as well as the practical implications of policy change. They are extremely valuable inputs for our policymakers”, says Masterson. “We created our Corporate Partnership Board (CPB) to do just this and are delighted to have a number of leading international companies as members, including PTV Group from the beginning, working with us to tackle emerging topics and issues including decarbonisation of transport, shared mobility and data driven transport policy. For example, in our report on data driven transport policy, we explored together new approaches for collaboration between the private and public sector to access, share or co-create relevant data to help manage transport operation and planning. Data is key to better transport policies”.

Dialogue is also important in the combat against climate change. All transport stakeholders have a role to play, including the private sector. At the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in December 2015, 196 parties adopted the Paris Agreement, with 174 countries ratifying that agreement on Earth Day 2016. Now it is time to work together to decarbonise transport. Particularly with regard to urban areas, space is scarce and congestion and emissions are getting increasingly worse. Governments have reacted by establishing environmental zones with access and time restrictions for certain vehicles in certain cities. Of course, this has an impact on the players involved, such as logistics firms, and they all need to work together to tackle this. The private sector needs to feed into policy dialogue, informing governments about, amongst other things, technologies and business models that can have a positive impact on reducing emissions.

Towards sustainable transport and delivery on COP21 goals: the role of MaaS
MaaS could be one example of how a new business model, combined with better use of data, can contribute in the fight against climate change. Precise and reliable geographical data are not only important in terms of policy making and supporting green logistics and efreight plans, they also provide a solid basis for establishing successful MaaS concepts.

Shared mobility is also key to Maas, as it contributes to a sustainable future and comprises an important aspect of how committing to the COP21 can be brought to succeed. Thus, the specific geographical data that make every city unique need to be taken into account when modelling, for example, MaaS fleet operations and integrating them into existing city models. Here the private sector is in an advanced position due to its data resources and the public sector, as the law-making body, holds the legislative authority. In order to meet current and future challenges, the two parties need to maintain and intensify the dialogue for the sake of both sectors.