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We make many decisions on a daily basis – also when planning a trip. When do we leave? Which route do we follow? Do we travel by bus, train or car? Habits and attitudes often determine the choices we make. Mobility research focuses on those transportation choices and contains two pillars. In the first pillar, we analyse people’s transportation behaviour, so we can support governments and policy makers in taking policy decisions. To influence one’s transportation choices, we have to understand them first. In the second pillar, we develop innovative solutions in the field of mobility management that contribute to a more sustainable mobility.

Pillar 1: Policy support using transport models

For several years, IMOB actively worked on the development of activity based transport models. These models not only simulate (a number of) trips, but they also map a full day and activity pattern of an individual. Thanks to these models, we can test policy measures in a (simulated) reality. What is the effect of a specific policy measure? How will mobility evolve in the (near) future? Our analyses support government and policy makers in taking policy decisions.

IMOB developed FEATHERS, an activity based transport model, which is fully operational in Flanders. FEATHERS is also applied in other regions (e.g. UK, Seoul and Slovenia) and in various applications (e.g. quantification of emissions and health, electric vehicles, etc.).

Pillar 2: Managing and controlling mobility demand

We also offer sustainable solutions for managing and controlling mobility needs by e.g. mapping the exact size of the mobility demand, giving advice on parking policies and pricing, stimulating multimodal trips, etc.

Projects in Transportation

Some interesting reference projects are:

Data Science for simulating the era of electric vehicles

The technology behind the design of electric vehicles is constantly improved and the EU expects that these vehicles can be mass produced by 2020. By applying information of gps and location data from cell phones in a completely new way, the DATA SIM project of the EU made a simulation of the effects of a massive transition to electric vehicles and conducted research on its impact on the mobility and electricity distribution network. The expected large-scale use of electric vehicles (EV) will affect the way we travel and where and when we call on the electricity grid. Knowing what a general use of EV's implies, is key to the preparation of this expansion.

"Large data files" give a detailed picture of the transport in the EU

So far, researchers have made use of general criteria, such as development of employment in a region, to map traffic flows. Road users have kept a diary, noted their trips and answered questionnaires. This information was helpful but not entirely reliable, because people may be incorrect or inaccurate. DATA SIM has a completely new and very detailed time-space approach based on using large amounts of data from mobile phones and gps. This new behavioral model can predict what would happen if we would all drive electric tomorrow.

Smarter electicity grids

Fathom what people do if they sit behind the wheel, and how far they will go, probably also means that researchers can determine when and where there is probably a need for energy. So you can determine if there is a risk of energy shortage in certain areas when a certain number of vehicles is being charged. For example, if there are too many EV's charging at the same time, is there a risk that for street light outage?

Answers to these questions provide policy makers with useful information to strengthen the network in those specific areas or to redesign charging stations. One of the main challenges for renewable energy is the fluctuation, with the peaks and troughs in its production. DATA SIM also investigated the possibility whether EV's can be used to store energy surpluses, generated in peak periods, and if this extra energy in the car batteries can be traced back to the network when necessary (when the cars are parked).

Smart coordination between man and machine

Car sharing, carpooling, charging and driving: coordinating how we deal with our cars, is of central importance when greening of our transport. In DATA SIM, for the first time data mining, database management, complex systems, transport, energy and computer science come together to find practical solutions with respect to mobility. This three year project, which was finalized in August 2014, will build on its results to find new solutions for the mobility market through the efficient use of large amounts of data.

More information:

Project ID

  • Period: 01/09/2011 - 31/08/2014
  • Client: European Union, 7th framework program
  • Project partners: CNR – Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, BME - Budapesti Muszaki es gazdasagtudomanyi Egyetem, Fraunhofer - Gesellschaft zur Foerderung der Angewandten Forschung E.V., UPM - Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, VITO - Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek, IIT - Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, UPRC - University of Piraeus Research Center, HU - University of Haifa
  • Project coordinator: UHasselt-IMOB

ICOMflex: Innovative Concepts for Organisations and Mobility: Flex spots and organizing the new way of working

Flanders lags behind other European countries and regions with regard to the 'new way of working'. Still too few people use the ever developing opportunities for time-and location-independent work (TLIW). The aim of the project is to help Flanders close the gap. Today, we are lacking awareness in this respect, but also many organizations today don't see the possibilities for TLIW yet. On the supply side, there is also doubt. Implanting flex workcentres requires considerable investments, and assessing where and according to which business model you start those centers is a difficult exercise. This project is meant to support both the demand and the supply for telework opportunities.

This project contributes to this by pointing out the way to the numerous possibilities that telecommuting offers, among others, in the field of transportation, but also by delivering the methods and know-how necessary to put knowledge into practice.

The Flanders Institute for Mobility (VIM) and Flanders Synergy (FS) join hands within the IWT-O&O project ' ICOMflex-innovative concepts for organisations and mobility: Flex spots and organizing the new way of working '. IMOB will concretely vouch for the following task: ' travel behaviour research in collective implementations '.

More information (in Dutch): Download the project file here.

Project ID

  • Period: 01/09/2013 - 31/08/2016
  • Client: IWT, O&O project - UHasselt-IMOB works as a subcontractor and carries out a specific subtask.
  • Project partners: Flanders Institute for Mobility (VIM) and Flanders Synergy (FS)
  • Projec coordinator: VIM & FS

SMART - PT: Smart Adaptive Public Transport

The SMART-PT project is an extension to the ongoing SBO-project “ORDERin’ F – Organizing Rhizomic Development along a Regional pilot network in Flanders”. The intended purpose of ORDERin’F is to explore the implementation of a regional public transport system in a post urban context and to find out how this network could contribute to more efficient spatial and urban development in Flanders. During the execution of this SBO-project it became clear that the stated hypothesis (i.e. the major contribution a PT-system can have on the sustainable urban development in Flanders) could only be fulfilled if the development of such a system could be made economically viable. This means that the resulting PT-system must be both very efficient and effective (i.e. it must fit very well the mobility needs of travelers). To accomplish this goal, the resulting PT-system must be very flexible.

Therefore, the goal of the current SMART-PT project is to develop a self-adaptive public transit system towards the needs and gradually and naturally changing travel patterns of the users. To achieve such transportation system, the potential of the intermediate modes (e.g. paratransit, carsharing, etc.) should be more efficiently exploited. Via ICT, a self-aware Smart-PT will recognize emerging passengers’ flow, estimate their variation in space and time and, appropriately, decide on the suitable operational model sufficient to accommodate this flow. Accordingly, the Smart-PT will modify service routes and frequencies to supplement services of high demand, while less frequently used services will be gradually substituted with more flexible ones (e.g., from a fixed bus route to a flexible paratransit service). Easily adapting modes (e.g. paratransit) will react first and then adaptation will gradually transcend to slower adapting components (buses, trams, LRT).

More information:

Project ID

  • Period: 01/07/2014 - 30/06/2016
  • Client: IWT-SBO (in the framework of ERA-NET Transport III)
  • Project partners: TAU: Tel Aviv University (Israel), AIT: Austrian Institute of Technology (Duitsland), IMOB: Hasselt University (België), KTH: Royal Institute of Technology Stockhom (Zweden), PUT: Poznan University of Technology (Polen), SNZN: Senozon Deutschland GmbH (Duitsland), BUUR: Bureau voor Urbanisme cvba (België), GVS: GEVAS software - Systementwicklung und Verkehrsinformatik GmbH (Duitsland)
  • Project coordinator: TAU: Tel Aviv University (Israel)

Research Travel Behaviour Flanders: control and analysis

The focus of the contract is the implementation of the control and the analysis of the data of the survey within the framework of the travel behaviour research Flanders (RTB 5). This survey is done every year for 5 consecutive years. Annually a report is drawn up which is a reflection of the analysis of the data of the previous year that was monitored.

More information (in Dutch):

Project ID

  • Period: 15/01/2015 - 14/10/2020
  • Client: Flemish Government - Department Mobility and Public Works - Section Policy Mobility and Road Safety
  • Project partners: -
  • Project coordinator: UHasselt-IMOB