Beyond Mobine

Problems of infrastructure capacity in rural areas

The region Thal, located in the administrative area of the Swiss Canton of Solothurn, has to face issues typical for rural regions in Western Europe. Due to structural change in the economy the region lost jobs in industry, without beeing able to compensate with service sector development. Compared to central cities, the region is lacking accessibility and location quality for companies, while quality of life in terms of natural environment is high. While connection by both public transport and roads is given, due to the high amount of out-commuters the street providing access to the region is overloaded during peak hours. Alternatives are limited due to the special topography, which is not allowing to increase capacity or build alternatives.

The region, which is struggling to remain its economic basis, is put at risk to experience a decrease of accessibility as one important factor of location quality. In order to avoid this and a down-circle of regional development innovative solutions are necessary. An issue which the region of Thal has in common with many other regions lacking in infra- and economic structure.

Students of Zurich University of Applied Sciences analysed the regional situation and developed approaches to solve the problem: Besides re-organizing traffic and transport infrastructure at the bottleneck, private or by employers organized car-sharing or shuttle systems and alternative routes for the existing public transport are suggested – showing that already small measures could have a large regional impact, while the main barrier for realization might be to find an agreement between local groups of different interest within the region.


Source of pictures: Bai, Glarner, Rüegger, Streuli, Weber


Visions for the Swiss Mobility System

Since 2013, the interdisciplinary Swiss Competence Center for Energy Research – Efficient Technologies and Systems for Mobility (short: SCCER Mobility) is working on ways t0 improve the efficiency and sustainability of the Swiss Mobility System. Both a technical/technological engineering perspective as well as a social/economical perspective are employed to assess mobility according to the goals set by the Swiss Energy Strategy 2050. The focus lies on 1) reducing CO2-emissions and 2) reducing the energy demand of the transport sector. Within this research framework, the MobINE-team focusses on the socio-economic components of change, on the assessment of systemic transformation and on possible ways to influence developments towards desirable directions. 

As both a summary of past work after the first funding phase of SCCER (until 2016) and as an outlook for future developments (as well as a sketch for a research agenda for the next funding phase until 2020), a working paper was published: “Towards an Energy Efficient and Climate Compatible Future Swiss Transportation System“. It points out certain trajectories for the development of mobility in Switzerland to be transformed in a sustainable, future-oriented way. Three aspects are regared as fundamental to reach this goal:

  • Energy conversion processes (efficient drivetrain, reduction of vehicular energy demand)
  • Energy carrier substitution (electricity, renewable fuels, H2)
  • Mobility and transportation demand reduction

Especially the 3rd issue is targeted by MobINE in collaboration with researchers from other institutions such as PSI, ETHZ and SUPSI. A holistic multi-level perspective on systemic transformations is used to understand the processes and relations betweed different aspects of the system. In the end, for implementing and facilitating actual change, four action fields could be identified:

  1. Efficiency increases and technological innovation based on sustainable energy sources and new technologies
  2. Avoidance of rebound effects considering energy-, time- and cost-efficiency
  3. Integrated spatial and transport planning aiming for quality of life in cities and agglomerations in order to avoid the ‘need’ to travel
  4. Shift towards quality of the economy and working world to meet sustainability requirements, which might lead to a more digital and flexible working behavior.

Version 1.2 of the report, dating from 09 May 2017 can be downloaded HERE.

More information about the research program SCCER Mobility, funded by CTI, can be found on the WEBSITE.

Our projects

Smart Commuting – Live @ ZHAW

On 20th and 21st March 2017, the second live meeting of the Smart Commuting project was hosted by ZHAW INE. With 20 participants from Switzerland, Finland, Austria, Czech Republic and England the potentials of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) in commuting were elaborated on intensely. How can new socio-technical innovations, such as MaaS, be effectively introduced and spread? To give answers to this question, we must not only look at the innovation (or technology) itself and its potential users, but also at the frame conditions. The first results of the research indicate important differences between the countries of our case studies. Whereas governmental structures in Finland (case Helskinki-Tampere) are very much top-down structured, the federal systems of Austria (case Korneuburg) and Switzerland (case Basel-Stadt) require many different political stakeholders to be involved. In the Swiss case, we need to consider especially the national, cantonal and municipal actors from politics and administration. However, also stakeholders from other fields, such as technology development, economy, etc. need to be considered. To develop a more comprehensive view, this issue was discussed on several agenda items during the meeting. One of our expert workshops specifically worked on best practices in governance and stakeholder involvement in supporting social innovation. It showed that one aspect is very essential for all cases: the desire for novelty and the openness to new ideas, as well as the willingness to give them a real chance. After all, personal contacts between the stakeholders are fundamental. This insight is addressed in further detail in the ongoing and next steps of the project with the specific focus on the Situation in Basel-Stadt.

Smart Commuting

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) – A new approach for a better commuting system in Switzerland?

The mobility needs of the Swiss workforce are changing – Within the ENSCC Smart Commuting Project, the Institute for Sustainable Development of ZHAW explores how to improve the commuting systems of tomorrow along with their project partners from Finland and Austria.

The importance of work-related travelling significantly increased during the last few years: The number of total commuters in Switzerland increased from 3.1 to 3.9 million between 2000 and 2014. That is a substantial augmentation by almost 26%. Additionally, the distances between workplace and home got longer. In 2014 the average way to work measured 14.5 km, which is 12% more than in the year 2000 (12.9 km). And this trend seems to be persistent.

Not only is the general travel demand rising, but also are needs and requirements regarding the journey itself evolving: More dynamic lifestyles, the increased digitalization throughout society and a changing work life are questioning the up-to-dateness of our current transportation systems.

The ENSCC Smart Commuting project examines the abovementioned developments and wants to find out how new types of mobility concepts, such as Mobility as a Service (MaaS), can help to resolve these challenges. The project consortium consists of ten partners in total, amongst the INE of ZHAW the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) in Austria and Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland. Especially in Finland systems like MaaS are already in daily use and so the project can highly draw on this international collaboration.

MaaS are mostly smartphone-based systems that offer access and information to all kinds of transportation modes and services. Therefore, it becomes possible to create user-specific and tailor-made mobility offers including different types of transport.The payment is directly handled by the smartphone-app, the process and the selection of the travel options is easy and straightforward. The trip can be optimized depending on the users’ travel demands: If, for example, somebody needs to transport goods, the app will specifically suggest to take an ‘Uber’ or to use cargo-bike rental instead of public transport. Therefore, MaaS helps to meet commuters’ new needs and demands and can promote sharing services, which can also be a substantial contribution to a more sustainable transportation system.

As the ENSCC Smart Commuting project also collaborates with the Office of Mobility of the Canton of Basel-Stadt, a case study will be performed in the Basel area. We will evaluate the potential for systems like MaaS and develop implementation strategies. Thus, it is quite possible to see a rise of such new mobility offers also in Switzerland, improving your daily commute to work. Stay informed about the project on this blog, on our website or on twitter using the hashtag #ensccsmart.



Beyond Mobine

Experience Supply Chain Excellence on site: Logistics Students visit SMART assembly plant and UPS night shift

In this semester, students of the bachelor courses in transport systems and business engineering have again undertaken an exciting excursion to the smart plant in Hambach / France and to the UPS European Air Hub at the Cologne-Bonn Airport to study the methods and knowledge acquired in the course of supply chain management in practice close up.

This year again, bachelor students of the fifth semester had the opportunity to experience real logistics processes in real on site. In a double excursion, the assembly plant of the Daimler subsidiary SMART in Hambach, France, was first explored. Afterwards, the engineers had the opportunity to observe the outstanding night operations at the UPS Air Hub at the Cologne / Bonn airport, one of the three largest UPS parcel service cross docking centers in the world.

The two lecturers, Stefan Dingerkus and Remo Eigenmann, are keen on practice oriented lecturing methods in their modules and offer exciting excursions every year.