The Case for Mobility Modelling in Europe

INX_Mobility Modelling

There are many performance targets for the European aviation system. It is clear that performance-based frameworks are needed and utilised, especially when decision makers need to act on legislative packages or when operational managers need to make procedural changes or decisions regarding technology in aviation. This overarching model of operations proves that any costly decision must ultimately result in an increase in performance.

Different performance frameworks look into different aspects of the European aviation framework, with varying goals that are not necessarily compatible or align in the same direction. To illustrate, the FlightPath 2050 envisions an air transport system that improves safety levels but also guarantees a time-performance for the future passengers in Europe; up to four hours maximum door-to-door travel time for 90% of travellers. This number is not arbitrary, as it corresponds to the type of experience high level experts had envisioned for European passengers. However, punctuality and efficiency metrics are mostly flight centred. Passengers are rarely considered on time performance schemes and therefore very little is known about the actual door-to-door time performance from the passenger perspective. Decisions such as ‘when’ or ‘where’ to act in achieving this goal have proven to be more challenging than initially expected.

The European Commission Single European Sky Unit is working on the Reference Period 3, which delves deeper into the performance scheme for air navigation service and network functions. This performance framework is very detailed, but unfortunately does not yet include provisions for passenger time-performance. Due to the complexity of different, non-interchangeable metrics, the KPAs and goals of the different performance schemes do not necessarily match.

SESAR and CleanSky have detailed, technical performance goals. By looking into specific technology pieces or procedures, it is clear their technologies will surely improve the performance of many concrete operational elements (e.g. runway performance), however it is unclear how much those programmes will contribute to other performance frameworks. For instance, Europe may need additional funding to ensure better technology or have a different distribution of effort across the different technology research areas.

Mobility Modelling with Mercury
It is not realistic to believe a top-down Performance Framework can rule all initiatives. Each initiative has its complexities which justify executing independently, in occasions working with different groups of stakeholders or professionals. Nonetheless, a single vision for European mobility is needed.

Innaxis and the University of Westminster have been working for over 5 years on an integrated mobility model that provides a wide range of performance and mobility metrics, for use by a variety of airlines, network managers and policy makers. This integrated mobility model is called the Mercury Air Transport model (Mercury).

Mercury is capable of modelling passenger connectivities inside the European aviation system, along with a wide range of flight and passenger prioritisation scenarios. In order to cope with this monumental tasks, Mercury uses Soft Computing techniques and it runs in a cloud-based infrastructure. Mercury has been validated by airlines and captures airline decision-making and related costs by fusing a variety of data sources. Furthermore, Mercury works within the integration of different Performance Frameworks to produce the most accurate and useful metrics for each stakeholder.

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Dr. Matthias Ruete and Future Transport

Dr Matthias Ruete, Director general DG “Mobility and Transport” of the European Commission, visited Spain last Wednesday 22 January invited by Fundacion Euroamerica, which organized a lunch sponsored by Innaxis and attended by the Spanish Secretary of State for Infrastructures, Transport and Housing, Mr Rafael Catalá, and other Spanish and foreign officials, as well as by high representatives of the Spanish and European industry and members of the academia. They all had the opportunity to listen Dr Ruete highlighting the future of transport in Europe and the different challenges that the region is facing to remain competitive.

The European Commission adopted the FlightPath2050 plan to target the ambitious goal of having 90% of air travellers in Europe completing their journey within 4 hours door-to-door. Horizon 2020 research initiatives will focus on new paradigms for reducing the impact of disturbances, understanding passenger metrics and customer profiles, modelling airports and airspace and also promoting multimodal (train-aircraft) projects, among others. Reducing the percentage of income that European households spend on transport, currently around 15%, is also a challenge Europe should face in the following decades. While the fragmentation of transport services, through public and private means, is pervasive, new service and business paradigms suggest that service contracts covering a wide variety of transport means would increase the efficiency and sustainability of the provision of transport services.

Becoming environmentally friendly is also an important challenge for Europe in the next decades. From its very early stages most transport means have been powered by fossil fuels. The reason for this is the ease of use and that those fuels represent a highly concentrated, low weighted, relatively compact source of energy. The drawbacks of such a choice are that they are heavily polluting, and rely on limited energy sources. Different renewable forms of energy are being investigated and, combined with more efficient usage of fossil fuels, they will be the basis of breakthroughs on environmental impact, driven again by an ambitious European goal of between 60%-80% reduction of CO2 emissions by 2050. Of course, the Innaxis Foundation is and will be very active promoting interdisciplinary research in these fields on the coming years.

Innaxis contributes to additonal int’l congresses

The Innaxis research team has presented three more contributions to the scientific community about the connections between Complexity Science and Air Transportation Networks.

The first event was the FisEs ’09 congress on Statistical Physics, held in Huelva (Spain) on the 10th – 12th September 2009, and hosted by the group of Physics of Complex Liquids of the Universidad de Huelva. Two posters were accepted by this congress, the first of which was presented by Innaxis researcher Massimiliano Zanin and reported new results about modelling the aeronautical system by applying the concept of Scheduled Network. The second was an application of the celebrated GoogleLab’s PageRank algorithm to model the consequential effect of delays, and the study of importance of each airport from the point of view of the transmission of reactionary delays.

The third contribution was developed along with A. Vejar, of the CNRS, Nancy Université of France, and was presented in the European Conference on Complex Systems 2009 held in University of Warwick, UK, on 21-25 September 2009. Here, a new approach was studied. Instead of analysing the complex network created by a transportation system, an emergent graph was created by modelling the dynamics of customers and vehicles in a general fitness landscape. Such a model could help in understanding the mechanisms that lead to the creation of standard connection models, like point-to-point or hub-and-spoke structures, and in forecasting the evolution of a real transportation environment.

These three contributions touch upon how modelling the network in different ways can help make the overall transportation network more efficient, especially in regards to money, ecological consumption, and passenger satisfaction.

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A transport network is a complex network- TEN-T Policy

On the 14th and 15th of October, the European Commission held a stakeholder conference to review the trans-European transport network policy. Important input was contributed for the drafting of the Commission’s Green Paper on the future of TEN-T policy. This paper will be published in early 2009.

The transport network policy (TEN-T) is part of a wider system, TEN, or Trans-European Networks. Within the system is TEN-T, as well as TEN-E (Energy), and eTEN (E-systems). The transportation TEN-T policy is more than the sum of 27 national transport infrastructure programmes.

Transport network is linked to the environmental policy- transport strategy concerning emissions 20% of emissions, 20% renewable 20% reduction in the use of energy all done by year 2020.

As this transport policy concerns the use and dependency on oil, it is concurrently linked to the environment policy. Many substitutes are being evaluated including Bio fuels, Hydrogen and fuel cells, and electricity. However since some elements such as bio fuel isn’t considered as ´clean´ studies are still being conducted.

The completion of important cross-border high-speed railway axes is a challenging goal, especially since talks mentioned links to outside of Europe specifically Morocco-Africa. Network links to airports and ports were also placed as a priority.

As this intricate cross-border network with concern for the climate change, competitiveness, and social and economic cohesion, becomes ever more multi-faceted; the need for a complex systems network intensifies. The understanding of complexity science, which is the establishment of a complex system, is valuable when trying to complete such a demanding project.

David Perez, the director of The Innaxis Research Institute, attended the conference and believes Innaxis may be able to play a part. Spain has a similar project, Aero-Ave, which concerns constructing a network between air and land transportation. Innaxis has already submitted a proposal to contribute to the national project and is looking into what they can do on the international level.

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