Research projects     Multi-modal transport planning




A holistic approach to providing spatial and transport planning tools and evidence to metropolitan and regional authorities for transitioning to sustainable future mobility 

The transport sector has been singularly unsuccessful in becoming low carbon and less resource intensive. The EU-funded HARMONY project aims to develop a new generation of harmonized spatial and multimodal transport planning tools that will enable metropolitan authorities to lead the transition to a low carbon new mobility era in a sustainable manner.

HARMONY’S integrated approach quantifies the multidimensional impact of various concepts, soft and hard policies on quality of life, sustainability, and economic growth, while identifying the most appropriate solutions and recommending ways to exploit advances in mobility concepts.

HARMONY is linked to six EU metropolitan areas assisting research: Rotterdam, Oxfordshire, Turin, Athens, Trikala and Upper Silesian-Zaglebie Metropolis.

Project Objective

HARMONY envisages developing a new generation of harmonised spatial and multimodal transport planning tools to model the dynamics of the changing transport sector and spatial organisation. The aim is to help authorities lead the transition to a low carbon new mobility era in a sustainable manner.

Co-creation labs allow citizens, authorities and industry to design together new mobility and spatial organisation concepts. At the same time, demonstrations with electric AVs, and drones help to understand real-life requirements. Market surveys elicit people and freight actors’ preferences and reactions towards the co-created concepts and the demonstrated new mobility technologies.

The HARMONY model suite is designed to assess the multidimensional impacts of the new mobility concepts and technologies. The model suite integrates:

1. land-use models (strategic/long-term) 
2. people and freight activity based models (tactical/mid-term)
3. multimodal network (operational/short-term) models allowing for vertical planning 

This integrated approach is necessary for authorities to understand if policies are sustainable, while contributing to meeting COP22 targets, social equality and wellbeing. The HARMONY model suite is also linked to an EU-wide model to further identify the impact of the concepts and technologies on the TEN-T level.

Sites: 1. Rotterdam(NL), 2. Oxfordshire(UK), 3. Turin(IT), 4. Athens(GR), 5. Trikala(GR), 6. Upper Silesian-Zaglebie Metropolis(PL).

Having six pilot areas helps form proposals to authorities, spatial and transport planners, concepts and technologies for different types of areas/cities

The Role of Aimsun

Aimsun facilitated a flexible and efficient integration of our multi-level traffic modelling toolkit with the HARMONY Model Suite. The main goal was to enable a multi-resolution I/O communication with external agent-based modules which process, predict and manage disaggregate multimodal demand (day-to-day and within-day) and fleet management tasks for new mobility services and concepts (e.g., Demand Responsive Transit and Mobility-as-a-Service).

Accomplishing such an integration effort required the extension and utilization of Aimsun Ride – a multimodal simulation platform which offers a gRPC-based (google Remote Procedure Calls) API that, primarily, enables the communication (at run-time) of externally calculated trips (considering different modalities and dynamic network/service status) with the supply simulator (i.e., Aimsun Next).

The main principles guiding Aimsun Ride’s extensions were:

  1. Facilitating the integration of Aimsun Next with agent-based multimodal demand models at both day-to-day and within-day modelling levels, and thus, supporting simulation-based evaluation of demand management strategies
  2. Facilitating the simulation of transportation demand at the agent level (fully or partially with background traffic) and, thus, avoiding loss of disaggregate traveler information (which would be the case if OD matrix aggregation was applied), as well as enabling simulated data feedbacks at the same disaggregate level.
  3. Facilitating the simulation of disrupting freight and passenger transport services, supporting a range of fleet management operations and vehicle classes

Along with Ride’s integration in the HARMONY MS, Aimsun has been the partner responsible for developing, extending, calibrating and validating microscopic network models for Oxford, UK and Rotterdam, NL. The developed network models’ data requirements, scope, coverage, spatial and temporal resolutions have been defined in collaboration with the metropolitan areas’ planning authorities and other technical project partners towards evaluating the potential impact of Autonomous Demand Responsive Transit services and micro-hub applications on transport demand, network performance and air quality.


Coordinator: University College London

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