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Austria and Switzerland hosted the first ITS virtual event

Sep 21, 2021

In order to strengthen cross-border cooperation in the field of intelligent transport systems, experts from ITS Switzerland and ITS Austria met on August 31, 2021 for an online exchange under the motto "Linking Services - Data and Building Blocks". The participants discussed the current status and future perspectives.

Since Switzerland and Austria are similar in many areas, it is obvious that cross-border cooperation and regular exchange can also bring many advantages in the mobility sector and that both countries can learn from each other. ITS Switzerland sees itself as a platform for the development and exchange of knowledge, with the goal of optimizing the entire Swiss mobility system according to the dimensions of sustainability, safety and efficiency. Since ITS Austria works with very comparable focal points, the two platforms have exchanged ideas in the "ITS virtual" format.

Mobility in alpine tourism regions

Both countries are tourism magnets. Therefore the discussion focused on the questions of how tourism can benefit from the various mobility options, what can be contributed to a sustainable mobility system and which mobility goals tourism regions will pursue in the future.

Insights into the tourism region Jungfrau-Region in the Bernese Oberland were given by Niels Weber, Jungfrau Railways. The Corona crisis has changed the region's target group. Instead of major customers, many individual guests from all over Europe now visit the area. In order to be able to react optimally to the change, the arrival and departure situation have to be rethought and managed. The region's goal is to provide an optimal arrival and departure mix. With the help of mobile phone data, frequently used axes can be made visible and customer-specific options, for example park-&-ride facilities, can be created on the basis of this data. Therefore, investments have already been made in a large terminal with an integrated train station as well as in parking lots and bus stops, which will be connected to public transportation.

Another insider's view of an alpine industrial region was provided by Tamar Hosennen, Region- und Wirtschaftszentrum Oberwallis AG. Shaped by immense economic growth, the Upper Valais region is facing new challenges. This is also the case in the mobility sector. Due to the inhomogeneous needs of the inhabitants and commuters, it is quite challenging to offer a suitable infrastructure or corresponding mobility services. There is also a conflict between everyday and leisure traffic. Therefore, the aim of the region is to increase the quality of commuting and to encourage the different groups to choose a sustainable means of transport by offering a perfect mix of mobility services.

Projects for cross-border and sustainable mobility

The project ummadum, presented by Rene Schader, deals with how to promote an environmentally friendly choice of transportation. The basis of the project is impressively simple: people are rewarded for climate-friendly mobility. By using mobility in a sustainable way, people earn points which they can exchange for vouchers. Not only private individuals benefit from this opportunity, but also the economy in the regions. By redeeming the vouchers, the economy is supported and the cycle is boosted. Another advantage is that by making CO2 savings visible, positive competition among groups is inspired and small tourism regions can receive help through an efficient use of the app.

Bettina Neuhäuser of VAO emphasized the importance of cooperation in the Alpine region during the event. However, one difficulty still lies in networking the cross-border data. But since cross-border traffic is important for tourism regions in both countries, the goal of offering a seamless route across several systems needs to be pursued. This is the only way to achieve a climate-neutral turnaround in the Alpine region.

Daniela Gamper, of AustriaTech, is addressing specifically this issue with the LinkingAlps project. New solutions for cross-border services are being created here. Up-to-date, high-quality and above all seamless travel information is especially important for cross-border routes. By connecting existing regional or national travel information services, a standardized exchange service in the sense of a "one-stop store" can be created by means of a decentralized network. The advantage for the data providers is that they retain the sobriety of their data and for the platform providers that they no longer have to maintain the volume of data. Hence, tourism regions and tourists who access routes across borders can be offered a seamless and sustainable route.

Future cooperation within the framework of ITS virtual

Due to the intensive exchange of information between tourism providers and mobility experts, learnings could be achieved on both sides. As a result of the great response, a further joint exchange is being planned for January and a meeting at the ITS World Congress 2021 in October is not excluded. "After the event, we sat down together and discussed the topics for the next events. We are sure that a cooperation of both countries has to be pursued further," brings in Martin Russ, managing director of AustriaTech. At the next "ITS virtual events", participants from Germany will also be included in the round in order to address an even larger community.