Polis Newsletter
Autumn | October 2012

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Welcome to the Polis public newsletter!

We are proud to welcome the city of Ghent as a new Polis member! Ghent, known for its strong reference in urban mobility planning, now decided to take the next step for innovation in urban mobility. We look forward to a fruitful exchange!

Polis is a network of European cities and regions working together to deploy innovative technologies and policies for a more sustainable mobility. Read more.

Enjoy your read,
Polis secretariat


Polis at ITS Vienna: Contribution of ITS to urban mobility

Polis Secretary General Sylvain Haon moderates joint session at the ITS World Congress, Berne and Brussels present how they evaluate ITS impact. 24 Oct 2012, 12-13.30h, Kapsch stand. More.

Registration open for 2012 Polis Conference

Polis presidency Perugia hosts the 2012 Annual Polis Conference on 29-30 November 2012. Registration for the conference and the TIDE launch workshop is now open until all seats are taken.

Sign up for the Polis Newsletter

Subscribing to this new quarterly public newsletter is a great way to stay informed about the network, our projects and events: sign up here.

Polis Network News

Polis Environment & Health Working Group meets on Transport and Health

Polis invites you to a Working Group meeting on Transport and Health on 30 October 2012. This meeting is organised in cooperation with the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels. Registration is open to Polis members and other interested persons, and now possible online.

This meeting will look at the role that plans and policies play in creating healthier urban environments and promoting active travel (walking and cycling), including presentations on the EU policy dimension in view of the review of the Air Quality directive due 2012, the PEP (Pan-European Programme) partnership from WHO and UNECE for sustainable transport and active mobility, presentations from city representative on integrating the health aspect in transportation and urban planning, and application of the HEAT tool on the appraisal of walking and cycling schemes.

The meeting will start at 9:00 and finish around 17:00 at the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels.

Please register online before 22 October 2012!

For the draft agenda and online registration click here

First EU Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) award launched

Within the framework of its Sustainable Urban Mobility campaign, the European Commission launched the EU’s first award to encourage the adoption of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) by local and regional authorities. Under the inaugural theme ‘stakeholder and citizen participation’, local and regional authorities can submit their applications for the award of EUR 10 000 on www.dotherightmix.eu.

European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: ‘Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans can help cities and towns offer their citizens integrated mobility options that are sustainable and that really meet their mobility needs. Across Europe, we see that it is essential to engage citizens and stakeholders in order to create awareness, acceptance and ownership at all stages. This provides a plan with legitimacy and enhances its overall quality. The Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan award thus aims to recognize and reward excellence in urban mobility.’

Cities within the European Union, the European Economic Area and Croatia are eligible to apply for the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan award. In order to encourage a broader range of applicants, local authorities are not required to have completed the entire process of developing and implementing a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan in order to be eligible for the award.

Applicants can submit their entries for the award on www.dotherightmix.eu. The application process will remain open until 9 November 2012, and the winner of the award for the best plan – as decided by an expert jury – will be rewarded with a prize of EUR 10 000 to support local awareness-raising activities on sustainable urban mobility.

In essence, a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan is a city’s integrated mobility plan for passengers and goods, addressing such sustainable urban mobility objectives as improved safety and security, reduced air and noise pollution, improved cost-effectiveness, enhanced quality of the urban environment, and accessibility of the transport system.


The SUMP Award is part of the European Commission’s Sustainable Urban Mobility campaign. It is linked to the European Mobility Week, which runs from 16 to 22 September every year and culminates in the ‘In Town Without My Car!’ day. The campaign is managed by the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport and funded through the Intelligent Energy-Europe Programme – the EU’s support programme for non-technological actions in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.

Promoting open standards and specifications in traffic systems and ITS for cities and regions in Europe

The new European project POSSE, targeted at cities and regions, dealing with open standards and specifications in multimodal network management systems and traveller information systems has started recently.

POSSE (Promoting Open Specifications and Standards in Europe) is a 3-year project funded by the INTERREG IVC programme, which will raise awareness of the concept of open systems around Europe and will build the capacity of selected public authorities (mainly cities) to embark on a process of implementing open systems within their country.

Background to traffic management and ITS

Using computational intelligence for better traffic management and services to the public has a very long tradition in the domain of urban traffic management. The most widespread result of this development is the traffic signal controller – a control system for the arbitration of traffic flows at junctions that has evolved over decades and is becoming adaptive to traffic, cognisant of public transport vehicles, pedestrians etc. and will in the future probably even minimise the environmental impact of the junction as a whole. Other traffic management systems include a variety of detectors and monitoring systems, variable message signs providing en-route information, access control (barriers), tolling systems etc.

The consequences of un-interoperable systems

Local authorities procure, deploy and maintain these systems. But with more and more field installations, it became obvious that it was of utmost importance to ensure market forces and competition in order to avoid vendor lock-in, keep costs manageable and ensure constant innovation.  Vendor lock-in is a widespread problem among public authorities in Europe, especially in the area of traffic control. For example, once an authority has acquired a basic urban traffic control (UTC) system to manage its traffic signals, it may be unable to buy a bus priority system or a car park guidance system from a different supplier without replacing the UTC system too. Technologies purchased from different suppliers are rarely able to operate with each other as they are designed to different, proprietary, specifications.  This creates an anti-competitive situation which has implications for both the public authority and the suppliers in terms of economies of scale, closed customer base and stimulating innovation. The absence of open specifications and standards in ITS also perpetuates the monopoly that some suppliers have in a number of member states.

Countries addressing interoperability

The issue of open specifications and standards has been taken up, in a significant way, in two countries in Europe: the UK through the UTMC (universal traffic management and control) initiative and the German-speaking part of Europe through the OCA (Open Systems City Association) and its OTS/OCIT-Initiative, which have been working on this matter for more than 10 years. While there are a number of differences between the two initiatives - in the starting point, in the process of building consensus among stakeholders, in the product and in the business model - both initiatives have succeeded in defining specifications which are widely implemented: more than 100 local authorities have implemented UTMC in the UK and it’s estimated that well over 100 authorities from Germany, Switzerland and Austria have adopted and implemented the OTS/OCIT interface specifications. Furthermore, UTMC and OTS/OCIT specifications are also being taken up by cities from other countries in Europe, the middle-East and South America. The benefits of open systems have been shown through significant cost savings in technology in many cities (notably the outstations, eg, traffic controller, and communications) and incentivising suppliers to innovate in order to differentiate their products and services from others. Such quantifiable and qualitative benefits will be further identified and promoted within POSSE.

The POSSE project

At a Polis meeting in 2010 to introduce its members (city and regional authorities) to the concept of open systems, Polis brought together UTMC and OCA for the first time. Many Polis members confirmed that vendor lock-in is a problem in their respective country and that there is a pressing need for open systems.  The POSSE project will offer a step in this direction by developing a guide on the implementation of open systems, notably determining who to engage with and how to engage with them, drawing on lessons learnt and tips from UTMC and OCA – both critical success factors and potential pitfalls. POSSE will also produce guidelines on open ITS systems and standards as well as a study of the usage of UTMC and OTS/OCIT specifications. Under the leadership of Reading, one of the UK’s leading local authorities using UTMC, six cities will receive tailored support from the project culminating in a plan for implementing open specifications and standards in their local context. To enable other public authorities with an interest in open systems to benefit from the knowledge sharing within POSSE, an open ITS systems forum will be set up and coordinated by Polis. Several expressions of interest have already been received, including from one central government ministry.

For further information

To express interest in the forum and for further information about POSSE, please contact: Suzanne Hoadley, Polis, email: shoadley@polisnetwork.eu


1. POSSE partners: Reading Borough Council/Coordinator (UK), Klaipeda (LT), Burgos (ES), La Spezia (IT), Pisa (IT), Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NO), CDV (CZ), UTMC Ltd (UK), OCA e.V (D) and Polis (B)

2. Polis is a network of city and regional authorities promoting innovation in transport. It is the reference network on ITS for cities and regions. The Polis ITS agenda is driven by its members and therefore it addresses those issues which matter most to them. The current priorities are:

i.       open specifications and standards for ITS (POSSE)

ii.      open data – the publication of transport data

iii.     ITS benefits and impacts – development of KPIs for measuring ITS performance against policy objectives

iv.      tools to support decision making on ITS investments

v.       cooperative systems

2012 Polis Conference programme available

The high quality of submitted abstracts for the 2012 Annual Polis Conference (29-30 November in Perugia, Italy) allowed us to put together an exciting conference programme: This year's conference addresses topics such as financing transport, tools to aid decision making on network management and ITS, promoting quality in public transport, deployment of electric vehicles in city-regions and benchmarking urban mobility.

130 abstracts have been submitted, a new record for the conference. Parallel sessions are organised around four main pillars and tackle issues on environment and health, traffic efficiency, road safety and security as well as social and economic aspects of transport. Included in the programme is a workshop “Acoustically green cities” and sessions on parking, on open systems for traffic management and on managing freight movements in different urban contexts.

The conference places the activities of cities and regions in the spotlight. The key topics have been explored recently by Polis members within the networks’ thematic working groups and projects. Three site visits complement the conference visit with practical insights into Polis presidency Perugia's minimetro, the city's limited traffic zone and intermodality to enhance public transport.

Registration opens publicly on 20 September. It already possible now for Polis members and speakers.

Download the draft programme.

Fore more information, visit the event page.

The region of Ile-de-France will deliver goods by Seine to reduce ecological footprint

According to an environmental study, the implementation of this innovative approach will relieve the roads of Ile-de-France by 3874 trucks per year.

Starting 1st October about 100 Franprix stores will be supplied by the Seine thanks to the support of Région Ile-de-France. More than 113,000 pallets will cross each year the 20 km from the port of Bonneuil-sur-Marne (94) to that of Bourdonnais (7th arrondissement) by water. Only dry products, such as beverages, cans, cakes, etc. will be provided by this type of delivery, which will take about 4 hours. Located in Paris and Boulogne-Billancourt (92), stores covered by this provision will be recognizable by the logo "Your magazine delivered by the Seine" displayed on the window of the stores.

According to Jean-Paul Huchon, President of the regional council of Île-de-France, "it was important that the Region encourage this initiative as part of a real ecological transition of our society. In fact, this is the first time that several tons of food will be delivered at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, without bringing a single truck in Paris".


Click here to view a list of all recent events.

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