Look behind many of today’s front-page stories – climate change, big data and artificial intelligence, for example – and you’ll find a series of vital and ongoing transformations within the mobility sector. Shared transport, networked public and private infrastructures, and smart traffic-forecasting and traffic-trends modelling are just a few of the numerous approaches gaining steadily in importance. Many other solutions addressing regional and global mobility shifts still have to be tested and developed. Transport in the most general sense is currently undergoing a sweeping transformation that affects many different actors, and ultimately the entire population.
Since 2016, the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) has used its Modernitätfonds (mFUND) research initiative to support research and development projects centred on digital data-based applications for smart mobility. In addition to providing financial backing, mFUND fosters the development of networks between political, business and research actors by sponsoring various types of events, and by providing access to the mCLOUD data portal.
As an open-data portal, mCLOUD serves as a research platform for open data related to mobility and other related topics. mCLOUD itself and all of its hosted data are freely accessible.
Projects supported by mFUND include new navigation services, innovative sharing platforms, intelligent travel planners, and high-precision weather apps, to cite just a few examples. The funding provided by BMVI and mFUND begins at the point at which digital business ideas arise, and supports teams interested in funding throughout the entire process of implementation – from the conceptual stage through development, and all the way to market introduction.
The independent iRights.Lab think tank has supported mFUND since 2017, providing accompanying research on the topic of data governance. With its new Move Mobility (MoMo) project, launched in early 2020, iRights.Lab has expanded its accompanying research to include additional important elements and formats. MoMo’s objective is to create new opportunities by identifying synergies in mFUND projects, and to provide substantive support in their realisation. For example, it keeps a close watch on future trends and topics having to do with smart mobility, and produces studies and papers that describe, document and further develop the projects’ results and impact. The MoMo team is also developing a networking and communications platform called Emmett, which will help increase the visibility of mFUND-backed projects, build networks between project participants, and promote public dialogue on the topic of mobility shifts. Emmett will additionally serve as a hub for the research conducted by iRights.Lab in support of mFUND projects.
iRights.Lab supports public institutions, foundations, companies, academics, and policymakers
in their efforts to meet the challenges of digitalisation, while also developing specific assistance programs. The think tank’s team combines legal, technical, economic and civil society expertise, enabling it to develop detailed measures for positive change within a digital society.
The diverse team speaks the languages of politics and regulation, of science, and of civil society, enabling it to create a common foundation for goal-driven dialogue. iRights.Lab’s expertise and translation capabilities, its experience in analysing political issues, and its ability to facilitate discourse through dialogue, consensus-building and idea generation are particularly helpful for a topic as all-encompassing as mobility, which touches everyone’s life.
Emmett is a new, open communications and networking platform that describes and documents the mobility projects funded by mFUND. It enhances their visibility by explaining their impact and the underlying issues they address, while offering opportunities for dialogue between researchers, businesspeople, and policymakers, as well as all project participants and interested citizens. This helps unlock new potential and create synergies, while also placing these issues into the public eye so that the innovations can be developed further over time.
As the first and only platform of its kind, Emmett combines all relevant topics having to do with data-driven mobility, on a cross-sectoral basis – from roads to rail, from waterways to air transport. With the help of freely accessible information and data, the platform uses concrete case studies to report on digitalisation’s challenges and solutions. In the process, it highlights sustainable benefits for society, the environment and the economy.
Emmett is intended to kindle enthusiasm for mobility and data: Its wide range of interactive content and topics helps make technological and data-driven applications understandable and accessible to everyone. The platform focuses particularly on the visionary people behind the innovations, telling their stories while also illustrating the impact being made on everybody’s lives. The future of mobility is becoming increasingly individualised.
The Explorer service developed as a part of the Emmett platform offers a clear and interactive overview of the various mFUND projects. For example, with just a few clicks, these can be sorted on the basis of project-start date, their home state within Germany, or the amount of funding provided. This helps provide a quick overview of the topics addressed by mFUND, while also allowing individuals to find the projects most relevant to them.
Emmett employs a variety of editorial formats, including traditional articles, detailed feature stories, podcasts, films, and data visualisations, to present the diverse stories and projects that are shaping mobility’s future. It reports on the mFUND projects themselves, but also takes a broader look at the surrounding environment, casting a spotlight on visionary mobility projects and ideas from other countries and areas. The measures and formats used will be regularly expanded and updated; for example, in the future, the platform will regularly publish a knowledge and research monitor offering a detailed look at selected areas of scientific research.
Emmett will feature a specially developed guide to measuring project impact, and will locate mFUND projects within a corresponding impact matrix. This will allow project teams to see what changes their data-driven innovations are generating for target groups and their living environments, and what influence their projects are having at the societal level.
Virtual and hybrid events are organised on a regular basis, with the goal of facilitating dialogue and helping to build networks between mFUND project participants and other interested parties. In addition, experts from the mobility sector and other areas are invited to provide their views and current insights.
The German mobility sector has traditionally been male-dominated, particularly within the management ranks. This is true to a similar extent within research and development circles. From its very beginnings, the recently created mFUND program has set a course aiming to break down these structural differences. To this end, a women’s network internal to the mFUND community has been established with the goal of providing space for targeted dialogue, the exchange of experiences and lessons learned, and cooperation.
Mobility is a key factor in people’s quality of life, and is a prerequisite for economic growth, trade, creativity, and personal well-being. Shaping a mobility sector able to meet the requirements of the future is a huge task. It must be both ecologically and economically sustainable, and suited to people’s actual needs and preferences. An open discussion is necessary if Germany is to deepen its international technological competitiveness. Emmett facilitates this discourse on its platform, and invites others to help shape the future of mobility.
The aim is to make the platform available in English as well, so that the processes of network-building and dialogue can take place across countries and cultures. In addition, the platform will be regularly expanded to include additional formats and functions. In early 2021, it will be extended to include social-networking features, with the goal of bringing more people and projects together to benefit from its synergies.
Download the Emmett booklet.