Published On: June 6, 2024

From the Transformative Cities project, Project researcher Marton Magyar and Research Director Ossi Kotavaara (authors of this blog) participated to the Transport Research Arena 2024 conference in Dublin in April. This year’s TRA was the biggest yet, with more than 4000 participants and 150 exhibitions, all co-organized with the European Commission.

It was great to note, that the event attracted a large number of scientists from across Europe and beyond, and also policy makers and developers were also actively involved too. In addition to scientific presentations and contributions, policy makers and developers attended panels, discussions and were actively involved in scientific sessions. This led to several fruitful discussions with researchers from other projects related to sustainable mobility. It was nice to get new insights into the work of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and the way they collect results for synthesis work. A key learning could be that after publishing the results, it is necessary to communicate them to key audiences within policy-making bodies if you want to have an impact.

Our main message from Transformative Cities was presented in the form of a poster and accompanying presentation for the session audience. The work-in-progress results of work in our passive sensing analysis were presented under a title ‘Detecting modal mobility in urban form using mobile phone tracking data: Case of Finnish cities’. In a nutshell, our study addressed the opportunity to improve urban mobility monitoring in Finnish cities by developing a modal detection approach using mobile phone tracking data in collaboration with Telia Crowd Insights. This approach is in line with Finland’s Recovery and Resilience Plan and supports the transition to carbon neutrality and climate resilience and gives potentially new tool for cities to monitor the efficiency of their actions.

There are already good tools to measure the overall sustainability of urban mobility in cities. We had a good discussion with Google’s specialist and their annual generalisation of urban modal mobility seemed to be a suitable tool to compare development within cities and compare efficiency between cities. Thus, we are calling on all major Finnish cities to give permission to make Google Environmental Insights Explorer data publicly available to citizens.

We felt at home at TRA in two ways. Firstly, the overall message of TRA2024 resonated very well with the goals of Transformative Cities and the community. How to advance sustainable, low-carbon, accessible and inclusive mobility. Also, the cutting-edge technologies, analysis and citizen perspective were strongly present. Secondly, the Irish attitude, hospitality and cuisine were great along with public transport!

There is no doubt that cutting-edge transport research is advancing rapidly, and it was nice to see that our contribution sparked interest and was widely welcomed. We can hardly wait for TRA26 to be organised in Budapest, hopefully on an even bigger scale! At TRA26, we also plan to present a summary of the passive sensing approaches developed within Transformative Cities to more accurately monitor urban modal mobility.

Finally, a heartfelt thank you to all the TRA staff, organizers, volunteers and participants for such a wonderful event.