Pilsen interview with a Czech magazine

The original article can be read in Czech here. ECHO is a bimonthly magazine that provides information on European research and cooperation opportunities in this area. ECHO is distributed free of charge in an edition of 1500 pieces to university faculties, institutes of the Czech Academy of Sciences, other research organisations, SMEs, regional assemblies, ministries and a number of libraries.

Interview with Stanislav Štangl about the experience of local administration in Horizon 2020 project PoliVisu

Much information on Czech municipalities´ participation in Horizon 2020 was published in the last edition of ECHO (Technology Centre CAS journal on H2020). This topic still has a lot of untapped potential as Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities are among the Mission areas for the upcoming Horizon Europe programme.

The current programme has several municipal projects. Plzeň (Pilsen) is involved in one of them. Its full title is Policy Development based on Advanced Geospatial Data Analytics and Visualisation, or PoliVisu for short. The project has been managed by a coordinator from Belgium and falls under the topic of ‘Policy development in the age of big data: data-driven policy-making, policy-modelling and policy-implementation’ (H2020-SC6-CO-CREATION-2017).

ECHO asked Mr Stanislav Štangl, the head of GIS department, Information Technology Administration of the City of Pilsen, several questions about PoliVisu.

ECHO: How did you get involved in the project? Were you approached by someone? Did you build on previous cooperation with one of the cities or city organisations now working on this project?

Štangl: PoliVisu is a spin-off of another European project Open Transport Net (OTN) which was funded by the previous CIP programme for competitiveness and innovation. In 2017, when OTN was coming to a close, we created a web visualisation of transport intensity in the area around Pilsen. This allowed us to better assess the impact of large-scale road works on traffic flows and the extent of exhaustion of the transport capacity of street communications in the city from May to November 2018. Within this period, a call for proposals was published by the European Commission and a Belgian company IS-practice, which was developing ideas for a follow-up project, asked us whether we would like to be a pilot city for testing new technologies. Naturally we were interested because the new project offered us an opportunity to continue and improve our work on transport visualisation. That’s how we got involved in PoliVisu.

Stanislav Štangl making a presentation about PoliVisu

ECHO: What is the role of individual project participants?

Štangl: The City of Pilsen is one of three pilot cities who are testing new tools. Our pilot is represented by the Information Technology Administration of the City of Pilsen. Our IT specialists have preliminary data to define expected outputs and develop applications in cooperation with other partners from the consortium. Several Czech companies and research organisations work on PoliVisu as technical partners, helping the city deal with transport issues:

ECHO: Which other cities are involved? How do you cooperate with them? Do you work closely with any particular city?

Štangl: PoliRural consortium includes 15 partners from across the EU. Three of them are cities: Pilsen, Issy-les-Moulineaux (part of Paris) and Gent (Belgium). Polivisu outputs, including case studies, are available on the Toolbox. Each city works on its topic of interest. In Gent, it's student mobility. In Belgium – traffic accidents. In Issy-les-Moulineaux – travel patterns based on floating card data. Our own pilot uses data from transport loops to visualise traffic intensity. As the project developed, new pilots from Belgium joined the network: Flanders, Mechelen and Kortrijk. The Pilsen team is helping them utilise PoliVisu technologies to achieve specific objectives.

ECHO: What has been achieved so far and how can both the city and the administration benefit in the future?

Štangl: Our main goal in PoliVisu is to have an advanced tool for modeling the impact of road works in and around the city, and to provide information for better coordination of such events in the future so as to minimise transport restrictions. We are developing an automated web service that could assist us with modeling a transport situation in the hours to come based on current transport situation and considering possible future disruptions, for example a road accident or a hockey match. Our solution includes precise traffic model and data accessibility for real time navigation (also available as open data). The application we are building can be used by traffic engineers to model the consequences of closures, and to better plan and coordinate construction works that might negatively impact transport.

The traffic model itself was developed for both traffic directions and is be able to record transport asymmetry e.g. morning and evening peaks in the city centre. Another improvement of the new visualisation is integrated data from transport loops which helps us betters assess current transport situation and make short-term predictions (3–5 hours). For long-term predictions, we’re using an app called Traffic Modeler, which can also display planned transport limitations. The City of Pilsen will continue working on these developments while actively cooperating with a wider consortium. We will use the tools to support decision making in areas such as transport, urban development and environmental sustainability. It is worth noting that these tools are fully in line with the concept of Smart City developed by the city, which has improvement of living conditions as one of its objectives.

ECHO: Is there anything you would like to recommend for cities that wish to participate in future Horizon 2020 projects?

Štangl: Cities are facing similar problems. Horizon projects can help you understand how best to proceed and what to avoid while learning from best practices. And that is exactly what PoliVisu is doing. It enables you to share data, make experiments, visualise the results to understand how the individual parts and the hole will react. Ultimately, this can lead to more sustainable policy decisions and to a more effective management of city operations.

The ECHO team: Veronika Korittova and Petra Ondračková

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