EMPOWER is a research project focusing on how positive incentives can encourage citizens to reconsider their travel choices and reduce the extent to which they travel using conventionally fuelled vehicles. In other words EMPOWER is about rewarding change
There already exists several alternatives to individual car use in our cities today, such as public transportation, cycling, carpooling, care sharing, electric vehicles and so on but why don’t more people use them? As travellers, how often do we sit in a traffic jam, frustrated and late for an appointment? As policy makers and transport planners, how do we encourage people to perceive these alternatives as being realistic options?
EMPOWER sets out to substantially reduce the use of conventionally fuelled vehicles (CFV) in cities and recognises that a step change in driver behaviour is needed to improve urban traffic flows, increase air quality, reduce CO2 emissions and oil consumption.
By using a ‘reward rather than punishment’ approach, EMPOWER will explore the use of positive incentives such as information, points, discounts, rewards, community support and games, rather than charging, pricing, rationing, restrictions and regulation. EMPOWER will use smartphone technologies and the web to persuade people to make modest shifts in their transport choices. Rewarding change also means rewarding a shift to travelling in off-peak hours, car sharing, and schemes to help people avoid travelling altogether.
There is already evidence that the use of a variety of incentives can have a strong influence on travel choices. For incentives to be effective, past research has also shown that incentives should be personalised. This implies they should be tailored towards the preferences, personal goals and needs for each person at a specific time. The personalisation of incentives is also needed in order to address the needs of specific vulnerable groups of travellers.
Smart devices (phones and tablets) will allow two-way information flow between the travelling public and transport authorities or providers, including the ability to offer tailored incentives relevant to the individual’s travel patterns.
For this type of scheme to be successful, it is important to consider who governs the different types of data, the sustainable provision of incentives and new collaborations between transport authorities, transport suppliers and third parties. As a result, we are also researching viable business models and how best to evaluate the success of such schemes.
Funded by the European Commission’s Horizon2020 programme, the EMPOWER project combines empirical research with practical implementation in four Living Lab Cities and seven Take-Up Cities and Communities.
UNIVERSITY OF LEEDS, TNO, GEMEENTE ENSCHEDE, IMTECH, WUPPERTAL INSTITUT, VIKTORIA SWEDISH ICT, UNIVERSITEIT TWENTE, MOBIDOT, FORUM VIRIUM HELSINKI, UN-HABITAT, WRI TURKEY SUSTAINABLE CITIES, POCKETWEB GMBH