Rick Overvoorde is a Traffic Engineer who joined MAPtm two years ago and has been active in the smart mobility and C-ITS field ever since, as in other topics such as intelligent traffic lights and other traffic management innovations. nuMIDAS is his first EU funded project, but certainly not his last.

1. Can you tell us about MAPTM and your role in the project?

MAPtm operates in the mobility management domain as an independent partner for and between road authorities, governments, and private organisations like construction companies and mobility service providers. Besides, MAPtm visualises analytic results generated by multiple public and private data sources as well as specific stakeholders’ goals and needs through i.e. dashboarding. These exact roles are fulfilled within the nuMIDAS consortium as well. However, instead of only presenting analytic results, MAPtm has developed an interactive dashboard that is able to request algorithmic computations and present results in order to assist policy makers with their decision and policy making. MAPtm also assists in the development and implementations of the nuMIDAS use cases. Furthermore, MAPtm is looking ahead in time, together with the consortium, to see what nuMIDAS can be after the project ends. Project results are expected to be impactful, so combining forces with the consortium to spread the knowledge and tools over more cities within Europe is an interesting, but challenging step. Many opportunities for new mobility are identified within the nuMIDAS project, so there still is much work to do!

2. Can you share with us a little bit of the process through which dashboards are developed for local governments?

MAPtm has developed multiple dashboards for several governments with a varying focus. Some are more for operational use; others focus on retrospective analysis for more tactical purposes. But all of the dashboards are custom designed. Together with the client we figure out the actual needs and requirements in an agile process. Step by step we determine which questions need to be answered and which insights are needed before we build the corresponding functionality. Even during the building process of the functionality, we keep close contact with the client to make sure we come to a product that fits their needs. In this way, we strengthen the collaboration with the client and achieve a joint responsibility for the final dashboard.
Since all our products are custom by design, we have no turnkey products. But increasingly we handle a modular approach. By building functionalities in different modules, it becomes easier to reuse parts of an earlier developed dashboard and integrate it in a new one for another client.

3. What difficulties do you encounter in your everyday work with regard to the use of mobility data and development of dashboards?

Some difficulties considering working with mobility data have to do with the availability of the data. On one hand there is the problem of incomplete data. Due to several possible (technical) problems during the collection process the occurrence of incomplete data items is not an exception. On the other hand, there are many different data sources available, which generally need to be combined. Most of these sources are visually easily combined, for instance when projected on a map. However, the different data sources do not always have common ground (e.g. comparing traffic and public transport flows).

The actual (spatial) join of data with varying projections and aggregations can be quite complex. Especially when these joins are supposed to be done near-real time to be available in a dashboard which needs to respond quickly for a smooth and responsive interface.
The quick response of the dashboard is a returning issue. During the development of functionalities, it is a constant consideration whether calculations need to be done server or client-side.

4. What do you think will be the biggest achievement of nuMIDAs toolkit?

Instead of only presenting data, the policy maker will be able to take control themselves. By adjusting scenario parameters within the dashboard, and analysing the results, the policy maker can not only support their decision making with data, but can also gain a better understanding of how each parameter influences the results through small adjustments of scenarios. Together with their local knowledge they are then able to make the right policy decisions. As each nuMIDAS use case is co-created with policy makers, academia and private companies, multiple points of view are taken into account during development. This co-creation is also an important learning process for the consortium and will result in more fruitful collaborations in the future.
Furthermore, being able to combine multiple tools into a single platform, where each use case has a relatively similar user interface, results in accessible and intuitive use of the tools provided in the nuMIDAS toolkit.

5. As a specialist in this field, what are the most important improvements that need to be implemented in traffic and mobility management at European level in the near future?

Digitalisation is a huge opportunity for mobility on strategic, tactical and operational levels. However, it also enables disrupting innovations that many governments struggle to control. A strong example is the trend of shared e-mobility. While in itself it is a good and sustainable concept, it does not always give the results that are beneficial for society. While it increases general accessibility, especially in the less accessible areas of cities, it chips away users from public transport lines and reduces use of active modes, such as a regular bike or walking. Therefore an important question to be answered is: does it really make our transport more sustainable? I think with the right policies, the answer will definitely be yes.
Another important factor in mobility management is the awareness of society that the questions when and if we should travel are important. Spreading peak-load of our mobility system results in more efficient throughput, as well as a more pleasant experience. This is already done in multiple ways in the Netherlands, such as through dynamic advertisements in busses that tell you if the next bus is less crowded each morning, or through presenting estimates of crowdedness in trains in the public transport route planning app.