ENDURANCE e-update April 2014
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Dear reader,

The involvement and participation of citizens and stakeholders in the SUMP-process is necessary to address their actual needs and to obtain public legitimacy. New Information and communication technologies (ICT) have started to shift citizen participation methods more to online environments. We are entering an era of participation 2.0, e-participation or crowd-sourced planning. In this e-update we will explore what this entails and how cities in Europe are implementing it.

This e-update was made in collaboration with the CIVITAS DYN@MO project (2012-2016), where ICT-based communication tools play an important role in the partner cities’ SUMP activities.

Please note: the European Conference on Mobility Management has many events on Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans and is still open for registration. Find a quick overview here, or start to register directly


What is participation 2.0?

Photo by Markus Angermeier/Luca Cremonini - CC BY-SA 2.5

The term derives from the expression “Web 2.0”, meaning internet sites that allow users to interact and collaborate with each other in a virtual community and to create content rather than passively viewing content. Participation 2.0 methods support participation through social media groups, interactive web-platforms, discussion forums, online polls and mobile applications. They can be used to complement traditional tools and to overcome their shortcomings. Participation 2.0 removes barriers of time and space and allows citizens to participate and interact with other users whenever they have time. It has a potential to reach new target groups, especially the so-called digital natives. Read more about the differences between traditional participation and e-participation in this article on TheCityFix.

With the right approach (see A city’s guide to social media), social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs can help to raise awareness and participation in many SUMP activities. It can be quite time-consuming, and cities should be prepared to handle online criticism too (inspiration can be found in the book Civility in the Digital Age by Andrea Weckerle and you can find more on eparticipation.eu).


Informing citizens

Click on the picture to enlarge

Informing the public about the planning process and outcomes is at the base of public participation. Cities and public transport operators most often have their own Facebook page. Twitter is practical to inform passengers about disruptions and changes in service. Politicians use social media to showcase their achievements and to keep their constituency informed of the political debate.

In Mechelen (Belgium, link in NL), a large construction site along the railway has its own informational website, where information can be filtered according to transport mode. The project has a Facebook page, a hash-tag on twitter and even informational videos on YouTube. In Riga (Latvia), the social networks Facebook, Odnoklassniki and Draugiem are intensively used to promote mobility events such as the annueal Car-Free Day and public bike rides. In the winter of 2012-2013, the town council and the mayor launched an experiment on Facebook to unclog the streets of Riga: during heavy snowfall, public transport was made free for car owners. Information was quickly shared among city residents and a large number of car owners used this opportunity.


Consulting citizens

Heat map of mapped bike rides in Tallinn - click to enlarge

Map of Helsinki showing conflicting areas in blue, main open spaces in yellow, and proposed construction areas in red.- click to enlarge

Cities can also collect information from citizens through information technologies. The city of Tallinn (Estonia) gained a lot of useful information while taking part in the European Cycling Challenge (ECC). The city won the challenge twice with 500 participants tracking their everyday bike trips with the Endomondo sports app (results 2013 – see all May bike rides in this 1-minute video). ECC data have provided the city and local transport NGOs with an overview of bike use in the city and have allowed to identify the main corridors for cyclists to be taken into account during reconstruction of streets. The app has produced a lot of feedback on where the cyling infrastructure and facilities can be improved. It also facilitated communication between cyclists. New users got precise advice on routing from experienced users, as well as hints for shortcuts and safe parking places. The Estonian Road Administration in their turn developed an online mapping programme for schools. Children can mark their routes from home to school, their traffic modes, and various traffic situations and problems on their way to school. The information is added to a GIS-database, which allows analysis of the data by traffic modes, density or other information required for both the school mobility plan and local transport planning. More information on page 22 in this brochure.

Several cities have used online media to collect citizens’ input for their SUMP or other mobility plans. The city of Aalborg (Denmark) for instance, collected more than 350 comments for their new Cycling Action Plan 2013 through Facebook.

Last year in Helsinki (Finland), the development of the new transport master plan Helsinki 2050 was prepared through an online map-based questionnaire (look at a demo here) among some 4,700 respondents. Together, they marked more than 30,000 locations in the city where they would like to see residential development, better transport connections and recreational areas. The project used the Finnish SoftGIS methodology. The results have been published as open data to allow all those interested in the subject to make use of them. Helsinki is also supporting ten resident-driven democracy pilot projects to seek new means of participation and interaction.

Social media can also be powerful tools to influence public opinion, easily accessible to all sides in a public debate. In Vienna (Austria) for instance, social media played an important role in the discussion about the pedestrianisation of the biggest shopping street in Vienna. Social networks were used to encourage citizens to participate in the official opinion poll. Facebook and online information also played an important part in the development of Vienna’s Urban Development Plan 2025 (see presentation n° 9 in this zip folder).


One step further: collaborating with citizens

Photo by James Duncan Davidson/O'Reilly Media, Inc. - cc-by-2.0

Source: Colectivo Camina Haz Ciudad

The European project PUMAS found that information technologies are commonly used to organize communication, but seldomly for more in-depth discussion and collaboration. PUMAS is working on several applications to create collaborative online communities of stakeholders, to manage face-to-face workshops, and to collect online feedback. These tools were presented during the PUMAS International Seminar 2013 in Lyon (see also this zip folder).

Another example for online collaboration is Joukkoenkeli (also in English) in the city of Hyvinkää (Finland). Inhabitants, companies and organisations can use the platform to contribute their expertise and innovative ideas to projects to make the city’s carbon footprint smaller.

Collaboration can even extend to the physical work to be done in the street. In Mexico City, citizens create their own sidewalks with the help of the ‘wiki sidewalk’ guidelines made by a local collective. In the UK, the not for profit organisation Renew Newcastle is working on city revitalisation by looking for artists, cultural projects and community groups to use and maintain vacant buildings until they are redeveloped.

Citizens can also be engaged to fund new projects (crowdfunding – see for instance the Kickstarter platform). In some countries this process is however in a legal grey zone (see this example from Finland, or the review of existing regulations by the European Crowdfunding Network). On 27 March 2014 the European Commission issued for the first time an official communication on the potential of crowdfunding, titeled “Unleashing the potential of Crowdfunding in the European Union” and a related press release.

More examples of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding initiatives can be found on Brickstarter. Andrew Nash presented many applications for crowd-sourced planning in a webinar organized by the CIVITAS thematic group on public involvement.


Interactive citizen dialogue in DYN@MO cities’ SUMP processes

Copyright: City of Aachen/Walter Esser

Copyright: City of Koprivnica

In CIVITAS DYN@MO, each city has chosen a participation 2.0 approach that complements their current participation practices. The City of Gdynia (Poland) has launched a Mobilnagdynia porta l that gathers all information related to mobility in the city. The portal offers citizens a possibility to follow and comment on the SUMP process and other DYN@MO measures. All social media groups used by the city to promote sustainable mobility, like the Mobilna Gdynia Facebook page and Gdynia’s Twitter account, are linked to the portal.

A SUMP simulation game is being developed in Aachen (Germany) to educate and train students and professionals in the SUMP process. The game focuses on the development of future mobility scenarios helpt to analyse various planned measures. The application is a great example of a serious game and acts as an icebreaker to open up discussion on novel ideas and solutions. The game will be available for other cities in German and English on Aachen’s website (DE). The city has also organised an online poll (DE) about the city’s Mobility Vision 2050.

The city of Koprivnica (Croatia) is currently developing its first SUMP and has established a Facebook page and a blog (HR) to inform citizens. Later, an online portal will provide all information on mobility at one place. The regional university, that is specialised in new media communication, will assist to attract especially the ”digital natives”.

Palma is testing its InfoPalma Mobile app that offers citizens real-time information and the possibility to feed information into the system themselves. The public transport company, EMT, is using Facebook and Twitter to inform and interact with their users. Suggestions from users received through different channels will feed the discussions on the preparation of a dynamic Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan.

By the end of the project, all DYN@MO cities aim to have a Mobility 2.0 online platform that acts as a one-stop-shop for all information on sustainable mobility in the cities. To get user feedback and ideas for improvement, each DYN@MO city has nominated a Lead User or a DYN@MO Ambassador. The lead users test prototypes of the mobility devices and new services that the cities have developed and share their own experiences on sustainable mobility through social media networks with other citizens.

Learn more about CIVITAS DYN@MO and the activities in the cities on the CIVITAS website. In September 2014 DYN@MO will publish two brochures: one on e-participation methods in the framework of SUMP and the cities’ practical experiences, and one on the conversion of regular buses into clean buses (hybrid, electric, trolley).


Conclusion: will the future be entirely digital?

Source: www.civitas.eu

Several cities in new member states had a substantial walking, cycling, or public transport tradition, but now face the threat of increasing car traffic. The city of Shkodra, Albania, for example has a modal split that many cities can only dream of: more than 70% of the trips during a week are made by bicycle and on foot. Street space is still largely shared by cars, cycles and pedestrians. From 2001 to 2009 however, the number of registered cars in the Shkodra Region more than doubled (from 8,790 to 18,800) and car use in the Shkodra town centre has most likely tripled in one decade. The cycling tradition is a great asset they can use in their mobility management efforts. The recently finalised EU project Mobalb was set up between Shkodra and Flanders to prepare the staff of Shkodra municipality to use mobility management measures to maintain the city’s identity as a cycling city and reverse the trend of growing car use.

So it is not a necessity to first build car infrastructure and then start with MM. However, to be able to change behaviour, it is a necessity that good alternatives to the car exist: public transport, cycle paths and lanes, old and new shared space zones, pedestrianised zones and good walking infrastructure.


News from related projects: Baltic Sea Region Competence Centre on Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning launched

The BSR Competence Centre on SUMP brings together knowledge and good examples of SUMPs from the Baltic Sea Region. The aim of the Competence Centre is to assist cities in developing their SUMPs by providing information and support, facilitating exchange of knowledge and experiences as well as offering training opportunities. Visit the Competence Centre online platform.


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