Why is mobility important?
Mobility is increasingly becoming a fundamental aspect defining the lifestyles of Europeans, changing the diversity of European culture. It plays an important role in defining social status and power relationships. It defines the ability people have to move about in time and space and so impacts their professional opportunities. It influences personal relationships and social interaction. It is a defining element in a person’s self-esteem and achievement, and an important factor in the personality they project to others.
Mobility in 2020 and beyond will reflect quite different lifestyles than those of the late 20th century. The migration of populations between countries continues to accelerate for economic and lifestyle reasons. Business and leisure mobility is now the largest economic sector in the world. People can live and work in several countries; whether they are professional workers or low-income economic migrants. All of this will influence social development in Europe.
The mobility industry is also a major employer in the European economy, in manufacturing, systems supply, ground operations, or people working within communities providing mobility advice and support. To meet future mobility needs, opportunities for mobility growth must take account of the living and working conditions of workers in the industry.
‘It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression, “As pretty as an airport”.’
– Douglas Adams
While the overall number of journeys that people make at the regional and urban level has not increased significantly in recent decades, the length of journeys has. The volume of daily mobility has placed heavy demands on urban and sub-regional transport networks. In addition, the internet and social media channels are transforming traditional concepts of mobility. All of the important factors listed above that people value in mobility are now being transferred to the new ‘virtual mobility’, which has become the primary driver of lifestyle development in Europe.
The transformation of mobility
Technological advances are changing mobility, with cleaner, lighter vehicles, planes and vessels. Developments in ICT are providing a major impetus for mobility and virtual mobility systems. Advances in transport systems and virtual mobility are set to revolutionise mobility patterns in the future. They offer the prospect of a whole new range of mobility products and services to meet the challenges of moving towards automated mobility; developing smart, seamless multi-modal mobility; developing cleaner, sustainable mobility; and making mobility more socially inclusive.
The MIND-SETS approach
The MIND-SETS project provides a new approach to understanding mobility as part of the overall changing lifestyles of different population groups across Europe. The project will assess how we can better understand mobility at the level of lifestyle patterns, set against social/economic/technological trends: in short – what are people’s mobility mind-sets across Europe? This will involve a new approach that brings mainstream sociologists, environmental psychologists and economists together with sustainable mobility and travel behaviour specialists as well as experts in social, technological and ITC trends: a full multi-disciplinary, new type of team to assess mobility issues, in the hopes of changing the professional mind-set of mobility stakeholders.
The project is divided into four distinct phases. In the first phase (The concept), we will analyse intelligence across several disciplines (economics, sociology, psychology, consumer behavioural studies, etc.) to create a new understanding of the ‘mobility mind-sets’ of Europeans, based on engagement with other leading experts in the field in Europe. In the second phase (Testing the concept), we will test this understanding. This will lead to the creation of decision support guidelines, or ‘MIND-SETS guidelines’, made in cooperation with a think tank of practising mobility stakeholders (decision-makers, operators, developers and mobility system suppliers) in the third phase, who will fine-tune the guidelines to meet the needs of the market. These fine-tuned guidelines will be embedded within the ‘MIND-SETS Knowledge Centre’ (or ‘MSKC’), a comprehensive web portal where all project knowledge will be gathered, in the fourth phase. The MSKC will support decision-making, create innovation in future mobility policies and assist the design and marketing of new products and services.