RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2012

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50 Future mobility: reflections on social inequalities, governance and the impact of changing technology
Affiliation Transport Geography Research Group
Convenor(s) Kate Pangbourne (University of Aberdeen, UK)
Chair(s) Kate Pangbourne (University of Aberdeen, UK)
Timetable Tuesday 03 July 2012, Session 3 (13:10 - 14:50)
Room David Hume Tower - Room 12.18
Session abstract This session explores diverse aspects of mobility in our future lives, emphasizing how current social and environmental crises interlock with our mobility behaviours. Contributors present a mix of empirical work and more theoretical perspectives, revealing the breadth of and pervasiveness of our current sociotechnical mobility system, its societal impacts and possible responses to complex environmental and social problems such as carbon emissions, congestion and social exclusion. Interventions at different scales and levels of governance are considered and the potential for major changes through technological developments are considered.
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2012@rgs.org
Intelligent vehicles, intelligent infrastructure and the “Cloud”
Tim Edwards (MIRA Ltd, UK)
Pawel Jaworski (MIRA Ltd, UK)
Maria Loukadaki (MIRA Ltd, UK)
Chris Reeves (MIRA Ltd, UK)
Traffic congestion remains a major issue worldwide and is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions; it is detrimental to the global economy and public wellbeing. Existing road infrastructure cannot keep up with increasing number of vehicles and in most cases urban road capacity cannot be increased cost effectively. To improve traffic flow without additional roads requires more efficient use of the existing infrastructure. Modern vehicles and traffic management systems are highly sophisticated and complex systems. Traffic management systems have grown to include traffic flow sensors and centralised control systems able to respond in real-time to changes in conditions. However, the two systems continue to operate independently of each other. If the two systems operated in harmony then many of the society issues associated with congestion could be alleviated.
The introduction of wireless technologies into vehicles opens a new paradigm, the potential for cooperation between these previously isolated systems. Vehicles are able to communicate detailed movement and intention information to the infrastructure and the infrastructure is able to respond and inform vehicles of optimised routes and speed profiles.
In this paper we consider a framework for an integrated, cloud computing based, traffic control system. The system provides a flexible interface for vehicles and infrastructure to share data and access services, such as traffic management support. The cloud based traffic management framework supports two main in-vehicle operating modes; an advisory system which could be an aftermarket application on a smartphone or navigation unit, or a fully integrated speed control system.
Such an approach could be used to reduce congestion and address the societal issues associated with congestion. In reality there are a number of practical issues that must be considered such as safety, security, privacy and liability. Here we focus on concerns around cost and phased deployment. Any new traffic management schemes must be flexible as there will be a mixture of enabled and standard vehicles and not all regions will have the required infrastructure. We discuss possible deployment strategies to maximise the traffic benefits even where only a relatively small sub-set of vehicles and infrastructure systems are deployed. An efficient scheme must also maximise the use of existing technologies, and data sources already deployed in vehicles and infrastructure.
Transport Futures: Reflexivity and governmentality
Robin Hickman (University College London, UK)
David Banister (University of Oxford, UK)
Over the last 50 years there has been much interest in cities – in their planning, design, degradation and regeneration – and in the last ten years, in particular, much discussion around sustainability, reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Within this, there are aspirations towards sustainable travel. Progress however appears intractably difficult to make in the transport sector as the private car, largely fuelled by petrol or diesel, remains the dominant mode of use and choice. Almost all cities are experiencing increasing emissions in transport, the city structure is often adversely impacted by planning for the private car, and many people complain of the ‘daily grind’ of the commute as the worst part of their daily lives. Our travel behaviours are in crisis.

This paper considers the different baselines, projections and opportunities for four very different contexts: from London and Oxfordshire (UK), Delhi (India) and Jinan (China). The likely possibilities for reducing transport CO2 emissions are examined relative to the aspirations of the IPCC (2007) and Stern (2009). Future scenarios are developed, relative to an assumed equitable 0.5 tCO2 per capita in transport CO2 emissions, for each case study by 2050 (Hickman et al., 2011a). The realism of the scenarios is examined in terms of the current use and symbolic value of motorisation, and the role of the car as a central and 'sticky' part of everyday life.

Finally, the political deliverability of low carbon transport futures is considered in governance and govermentality terms, recognising that the current poor deliverability of many measures remains a major obstacle to progress (Foucault, 1991; Freund and Martin, 1993; Dunn and Perl, 2010). The growing body of scenario analysis and modelling of impacts by policy tool or package of tools is useful, but in the end the analysis is only of limited value, if political deliverability is not possible.
Delivering transport behavioural change and carbon reduction using a multifaceted Quality Network Partnership
R. L. V. Southern (University of Hertfordshire, UK)
J. P. Cecil (University of Hertfordshire)
S. L. Copsey (University of Hertfordshire)
S. Joseph (Campaign for Better Transport)
M. Salter (University of Hertfordshire, UK)
S. J. Walsh (University of Hertfordshire, UK)
UK bus use is static or declining outside London. The Local Transport Act 2008 attempts to address this by providing Local Authorities with powers to influence bus service provision. Further, the 2011 Government White Paper ‘Creating Growth, Cutting Carbon’ promotes greater of sustainable modes to reduce transports’ contribution to UK carbon emissions, backed by a four year Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF). This paper uses a Quality Partnership case study, “Network St Albans”, covering the city of St Albans in Hertfordshire including all bus and train operators, Local Authorities and the University of Hertfordshire to suggest how to increase the uptake of public transport use. The partnership has already delivered part of Hertfordshire County Council’s LSTF Key Component project to promote economic growth and carbon reduction within a local transport context. The methodological model for the QNP uses five working groups covering infrastructure (road and bus), network planning, marketing, ticketing and travel planning to improve multi-modal service provision. It will be shown that a shift away from conventional car use is essential to move towards a low carbon economy - the use of low carbon electric vehicles (EV) is key to this as part of an East of England wide, EU and Government-supported, ‘plugged in places’ initiative. Partnership activities include ‘Fresh Ways to Work’ - an EU-funded project helping small businesses consider alternatives to the private car; Real Time Information through multiple digital devices; Multi-operator and mobile ticketing – bringing offers and discounts using barcode compatibility; and the provision of EV-charging infrastructure. The paper will show that the provision of a delivery framework for local government is achievable in eliciting change in transport behavioural choices that will ultimately work towards the Government’s stated aim of a lower carbon economy, and that such change can be replicated elsewhere.
Car dependence, sustainability and social exclusion: households without a car in Germany and the UK
Giulio Mattioli (Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, Italy)
Households without a car are at the peculiar intersection of two contradicting concerns: first, from a sustainable transport perspective, car-free living has to be promoted in order to reduce the environmental impact of mobility. As a matter of fact, there is no way to avoid a dramatic surge in transport-related greenhouse gases emissions worldwide if current trends towards ever increasing motorization and car use are allowed to continue. Of course, such a trend reversal is more likely to take place in the core of urban areas, where transport alternatives are available. On the other hand, however, the literature on transport and social exclusion clearly shows that in the rich west carless living is often the consequence of economic deprivation and/or the cause of difficulties in accessing services and opportunities. This transport disadvantage can in turn lead to (further) social exclusion, and is thus problematic from a social equity perspective. Of course, this association between car ownership and social inclusion is most likely to hold in contexts where the pressure of car dependence is strongest, such as suburban or rural areas, where a high level of mobility is required in order to participate “normally” in society. Accordingly, the size and the nature of the group of households without a car is expected to be highly variable according to the spatial characteristics of the local area: in dense urban areas, this group is expected to be large and complex, with an overrepresentation of households for whom car-free living is a matter of lifestyle choice. By contrast, in territorial contexts where the pressure of car dependence is high, households without a car are likely to be concentrated mostly among the poor and the elderly. In that sense, the internal structure of the group of households without a car in a given local area is of great interest, since it is an indicator of its level of car dependence. This conference paper tackles this crucial issue, that has to be taken into account if both environmental concerns (related to inter-generational equity) and intra-generational, social equity concerns are to be addressed in the field of transport. To do so, it compares the results of a secondary analysis carried out on both the German and the British national travel surveys (MiD 2002 & 2008, NTS 2002-2008). Using the tools of cluster, regression and latent class analysis, it puts forward a typology of households without a car, which is described in relation to five dimensions: economic status, stated reasons for not owning a car, spatial characteristics of the residential area, accessibility to services and opportunities (with different modes of transport) and actual mobility behaviour. The results show that in Germany, the carless group as a whole shows an extreme overrepresentation of singles, inactive households and the elderly – with active nuclear families virtually absent from the picture. On the other hand, there appear to be two main groups of carless households, with quite different characteristics: a “hard core” of old, less mobile people, which represents about the same share of the population in every territorial contexts, and a group of younger, more mobile households, whose size is extremely variable depending on spatial features of the residential area. The British case is similar in many respects, but here carlessness is more common and the issue of transport exclusion appears to be more serious. One might argue that these dissimilarities reflect a more general difference between the German model, consisting of a “social market economy” and a fully motorized society, as opposed to the more liberal UK, where social inequalities are more pronounced. The implications of these findings for the pursuit of sustainable transport are discussed.
Fabricated Futures and the Transportation of Objects
Thomas Birtchnell (Lancaster University, UK)
John Urry (Lancaster University)
This paper assesses possible futures concerning developments in so-called 3D printing in relation to socio-technical systems and consumption and production. Drawing on research from the Technologies and Travel ESRC-funded project the paper details the results of qualitative interviews with transport, engineering, design and futures experts and a scenarios workshop with experts exploring possible futures and the impacts on transportation. Such ‘printing’, or ‘personal fabrication’, could permit many objects to be produced near to or even by consumers themselves on just-in-time ‘printing’ machines. Widely known about in engineering and design the impacts of these technologies on social practices and travel have yet to be forecast by social scientists. These technologies may become as ubiquitous as networked computers have become, with consequences that are just as significant. The paper reports on some recent research that seeks to understand some economic, social and environmental implications of what may be a major new socio-technical system that is currently in the making and which might turn out to have major consequences for the trajectory of the twenty first century.