Aside from having a Master in Computer Science, Sven Maerivoet holds a PhD degree in traffic engineering, with main expertise in transportation planning models and traffic flow theory. Sven regularly participates and/or coordinates European projects (DG MOVE, DG GROWTH, FP7, Horizon 2020 / Europe, etc.), and regularly acts as reviewer for the European calls. He is also involved in (cooperative) intelligent transportation systems, road user charging assessments, connected, cooperative and automated vehicles, and he co-developed the Telraam traffic counting sensor.

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

Founded in 2002 as a spin-off company of the Catholic University of Leuven, Transport & Mobility Leuven (TML) conducts applied research to support policy decisions. Its mission is to help society by offering scientifically sound analyses. To this end, TML relies on quantitative research: modelling, statistical analyses, simulations, and prognoses. Its research fields are traffic, passenger and freight transport, and the related economic impact and environmental problems. The integration between passenger and freight transport, economics, and environment gives TML a unique position within Europe. TML’s excellent relation with its shareholders guarantees that it is always up-to-date with the most recent state-of-the-art. Within the nuMIDAS Horizon 2020 project, TML is the coordinator, for which I oversee the technical and administrative project management.

2. From your experience, what are the main issues that need to be tackled in mobility and how can the nuMIDAS toolkit contribute to this?

Largely speaking, there are a number of broad categories that are relevant regarding mobility issues. The environment and associated traffic-related emissions are some of them. Whereas this has been an issue of all times, we now see something else: the emergence of lots of micromobility services. Shared electric steps, scooters, bicycles, etc., are flooding the cities. For them it is imperative to get a grip on how this changes the mobility landscape in the city. And it does not stop there. Whereas parking policies can be situated on a level of ‘how much to pay at which location’, there is also now a tighter integration with traffic management in a city in general. The latter is not just about urban vehicle access restrictions and intersection traffic light controls, but also about how it integrates with people’s behaviour when searching for parking spaces and how traffic can be guided smoothly within and through a city

3. Compared to other European projects, what makes the nuMIDAS project outstanding for you?

For the past decade, I have seen many different types of projects passing by within the mobility sector that I work in. In this respect, there is a big difference between projects that are more research-oriented, those that are more evaluation-oriented, and those that are more into deployment. Evaluation and impact assessment projects have a much shorter timeline and narrower focus. Deployment projects seem to be more about large-scale cooperations. nuMIDAS lives within the family of research projects. Some of these deal with model building and testing them for very low TRL-phases. But here, nuMIDAS distinguishes itself strongly because it leads to very concrete (software) implementations that are deployed within different cities with a much higher technological readiness level. It is also a project in which the collaboration and understanding between the different partners is key to its successful outcome. In nuMIDAS, I am very excited to experience how all partners are on the same page and fully grasp what we are trying to achieve.


4. How do you assess the contribution of the nuMIDAS use case of planning and parking to Leuven’s urban mobility? How can the other use cases offer added value for a city like Leuven?

To this day, dealing with parking-related problems remains a challenge for cities. It is not just a question of where to allocate more or less parking space, but also how to deal with a more integrated view. How is traffic guided towards and within a city? How can parking behaviour be influenced such that the parking pressure changes? In this respect, the planning and parking use case of nuMIDAS is tailored to the specific needs of Leuven. It will allow them to understand the consequences when they change some of their parking policies. Some of the other use cases also offer added value to the city. Tangible examples of these are the rise of organising micromobility services that provide various new ways of travelling within a city. Or what about calculating the impacts of traffic management on a city-wide level? And finally, there are relevant use cases that provide insights into traffic-related emissions.

5. How will the nuMIDAS toolkit support policy makers and what other tools could support policy decisions?

For policy makers, and for (mobility) policies in general, we are of a strong opinion that they should base themselves on as much quantitative data as possible. Insights gained through the (statistical) analysis of collected information, analysing and evaluating data that comes out of calibrated models, existing measurements, etc., are much more valuable than just guesses. Even more so, this quantitative approach should underpin expert judgement. To achieve this, policy makers need to have the right set of tools at their disposal. These tools should be as complete and understandable as possible (i.e. provide relevant answers to the questions at hand). In addition, if we want policy makers to adopt these tools into their strategic decisions, or even their day-to-day operations, we need to ensure that they are also very approachable and usable. nuMIDAS fits into this niche, as all its tools are developed under a common framework, and in cooperation with the policy makers themselves.