EMPOWERing sustainable mobility

A new €4.89 million international collaboration is set to reduce our cities’ reliance on conventionally fuelled vehicles.

The EMPOWER research project will create a set of new tools to influence the mobility choices and behaviour of drivers, using positive incentives delivered through smart technologies. Funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme, the three-year project will use individual mobility profiling in eleven ‘living labs’ across Europe as part of ambitious roll-out plans.

EMPOWER will reduce the use of conventionally fuelled vehicles by: shifting trips to other modes or more sustainable vehicle types, promoting sharing and self-organisation, and reducing demand overall e.g. through remote access to services.

Consortium Leader Dr Susan Grant-Muller, together with Co-investigator Ms Frances Hodgson, from the University of Leeds’ Institute for Transport Studies, leads the international collaboration of 12 Universities, Research Institutes, City Authorities and SME, including partners from the Netherlands (TNO1, Enschede City2, University of Twente, Mobidot, Imtech3), Sweden (Viktoria Institute4), Germany (Pocketweb, Wuppertal Institute5), Finland (Forumvi6), Turkey (Embarq7) and the United Nations (UNHabitat8). 

Dr Grant-Muller commented ‘the time is right to explore the full potential of pervasive smart technologies as part of a behavioural approach to transport demand management that focuses on carrots rather than sticks. We aim to demonstrate the energy and carbon savings that can be achieved by a large number of people making modest shifts in their transport choices’.

At present, transport planners, policy makers and city authorities face a disparate set of evidence on which types of positive incentives (such as rewards, points, vouchers, dynamic information, games, peer support etc) work well and how best to design incentive schemes. An important output from EMPOWER will be a Toolkit to support industry, policy makers and employers to understand, choose and implement positive policy interventions. 

The Toolkit will include: new mobility services to deliver positive incentive based schemes, new evidence on behavioural responses and impacts from positive incentives, improved business models for those engaging with incentives based schemes for transport and innovation in the evaluation methodology for new mobility services. EMPOWER is working with more than fourteen industry organisations, incentives suppliers, city authorities and network organisations in Europe and internationally to deliver the research, which started on 1st May 2015.


1 Nederlandse Organisatie Voor Toegepast Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek – Tno
2 Gemeente Enschede
3 Imtech Traffic & Infra Bv
4 Viktoria Swedish Ict Ab
5 Wuppertal Institut Fur Klima, Umwelt, Energie Gmbh
6 Forum Virium Helsinki Oy
7 Surdurulebilir Ulasim Dernegi
8 United Nations Human Settlements Programme