19 October 2018

Start of UMO: in-depth research into urban mobility

The Urban Mobility Observatory (UMO) project has been awarded €1,950,000 from the NWO Large programme, aimed at the construction of large scientific support facilities. UMO will spend years collecting extensive data on mobility in cities in the Netherlands. The Urban Futures program Utrecht University is one of the partners and contributes to the development of a travel behaviour panel survey and a GPS based mobility tracking system .

 

Urban mobility

The Urban Mobility Observatory (UMO) is an extensive system of sensors, survey instruments and IT infrastructure for observing mobility and travel behaviour and combining data from different kinds of measurements (cameras, mobile phone, surveys). UMO will collect and save all types of traffic, transport and mobility data and make it available for research into mobility and transport in urban areas. ‘This project is very important for investigating the impact of transitions in the urban transportation system for people’s inclusion and health and to keep cities accessible in the context of the expected continuous growth, says  Dick Ettema, professor of Urban Accessibility and Social Inclusion at Utrecht University.

 

Collaboration

The grant of 1.95 million euros (for a period of five years) will be topped up by the eight participating parties to 3.25 million euros. ‘We are very happy with this extensive collaboration’, says principal applicant Winnie Daamen of TUDelft. ‘The large number of partners and generous individual contributions show the will to work together. This will allow us to involve all kinds of researchers with different perspectives. UMO makes ground-breaking scientific research possible in the area of traffic, transport and mobility. Researchers are welcome to submit plans for the collection of new data. We will work with existing data as well (including data from external parties). The effective filtering of that data is one of the main tasks.’

 

Sensors and apps

UMO's network of sensors will contain instruments for monitoring real-life situations in six regions (including cameras, radar, LIDARs, BT/Wi-Fi trackers and mobile apps). There is also a moving network of sensors via vehicles and moveable devices for additional observations.

Certain data on travel behaviour and travel preferences will be collected via crowdsourcing (a panel) and social media, for instance. Data will be continuously collected on a representative average of the Dutch population. ‘This will also include tracking the same people for several years and watching how their mobility and travel behaviour changes’

 

The Netherlands

The campus in Delft will be one of the research areas. ‘The Netherlands is the perfect location for UMO anyway’, says Daamen. ‘It is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with huge accessibility problems and heavy impact on the environment by traffic. In addition, our country has a strong tradition of collaboration on research and an excellent international reputation in transport research.’

The data collected by UMO will be made accessible to the public as much as possible, with the necessary privacy safeguards, of course.

 

The eight partners in Urban Mobility Observatory: TU Delft, TU Eindhoven, VU Amsterdam, Utrecht University, University of Twente, University of Groningen, AMS Institute and CWI.