The world of smart mobility is changing rapidly. Due to the availability of more data and new technologies, innovative traffic solutions are within reach. The division of roles between government and commercial parties is also changing. In order to respond to these changes, Vialis set up the New Business & Marketing department at the beginning of this year. This department not only investigates the opportunities being offered, but is already providing products and services to existing and new markets.
“We are in the middle of a transition”, says Robin van Haasteren, director of the new department at Vialis, part of Royal VolkerWessels. He can see a large number of developments that are radically changing the way in which we deal with mobility, and the relationships between commercial parties and governments. Accessibility is under pressure. “We want to be able to travel from A to B more frequently, faster and more reliably, but the negative effects are also noticeable. We're stuck in traffic jams for longer and more often, there is a limit to that. Space is scarce, you can't expand any further.” Sustainability and safety are also at risk. Residents are opposed to the detrimental effects of roads. And, more traffic leads to a higher risk of accidents.
Van Haasteren: “Vialis focuses on creating an intelligent infrastructure to improve the flow. New technological possibilities offer new solutions. Just think of big data and the Internet of Things. We are at the frontier of Talking Traffic. All kinds of apps providing travellers with timely information are on the way. We are now exploring the techniques and possibilities, and what our revenue models should look like. This is why we have set up a separate department for new products and solutions in existing and new markets.”
And it doesn’t end with exploring New Business & Marketing. The new department has already developed a number of applications in the past year. After completing a pilot, Vialis recently launched the Schwung bicycle app in the city ‘s-Hertogenbosch. The app is able to communicate with the smart traffic control systems that were recently installed in the city as a result of the national Talking Traffic programme, in which the government and commercial parties are working on the development of innovative traffic control systems.
Via the app, a traffic control system detects approaching cyclists, and responds by ensuring a better flow of cyclists. This can be done by allowing the light for cyclists to switch to green or by giving cyclists longer green times. Other municipalities, including Enschede, Breda and Hilversum, will start using the app, according to Van Haasteren. For municipalities, it is one way of stimulating bicycle traffic and gaining insight into bicycle traffic flows.
A similar app has been developed in collaboration with Infoplaza. Drivers using the app can see how long it will take before the traffic light they are approaching turns green. This makes it easier for them to anticipate: instead of everyone breaking at the last moment for a red traffic light, they can adapt their speed. “In addition to these applications, we are also working on ten other innovations, all aimed at improving flow, sustainability or safety”, says Van Haasteren.
In his view, a trend that seems to be gathering pace is that of the government withdrawing. And this has repercussions for commercial relationships. “We are increasingly moving from client and contractor status to partnership, and from suppliers of products to services”. Van Haasteren is looking forward to the new year. “Many of our thoughts and ideas of the future are now becoming reality. I can’t wait. It’s good to use your knowledge to offer the best possible solutions. For Vialis, it is in our genes. This is definitely what our company is about, as far as I'm concerned.”
Due to the rapid changes in the field of mobility, traffic expertise is becoming increasingly important, according to Van Haasteren. In practice, traffic experts are having to deal with many more issues than before. They not only need to take into account all the factors relating to traffic, but also economic and environmental technology. “That is a real opportunity, because at Vialis, we need more people who understand how traffic works. This field is becoming broader and more complex, and, as a result, more challenging and crucial.”
Written by Yvonne Ton. This article appeared in the Trends 2018 (Verkeer in Beeld) edition.
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