(Note: Forthcoming in Transportation Geography)
 
 
 
Information and Communication Technologies and Transportation:
European-USCollaborative and Comparative Research Possibilities
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David Hodge, Department of Geography, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-3550
Heli Koski, University of Oulu, Department of Economics, P.O. Box 111, SF-990571 Oulu, FINLAND
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Paper prepared for the joint National Science Foundation - European Science Foundation Transportation Workshop held 10/7/97 in Strasbourg, France.

Introduction
Information and communications technology affect transportation directly and indirectly in an enormous number of ways. It is in fact impossible to discuss issues related to transportation without including the impact of these emerging technologies. In this paper we highlight some key questions regarding information and communication technology that we feel have the greatest potential for collaborative and comparative research between the US and Europe. Our suggestions are not intended to be exhaustive, rather we focus on those issues that seem most relevant to theoretical and basic research in the geography, economics, and regional science communities. Moreover, we draw attention to the clear linkages to, and overlap with, the other study areas of this workshop. We begin the paper with a brief summary of information and communication technology relevant to transportation and of key differences in the US and Europe that make collaborative and comparative research so rewarding. We then turn to an analysis of the impact of information and communication technology on travel behavior, i.e. transportation use broken down by type of activity. Finally, potential research questions regarding the impact of information and communication technology on industrial organization, spatial form, and transportation networks are examined.Information and Communications Technology The market for information and communications technologies (ICT) has during the past decades introduced a great number of information-technological innovations, including a wide variety of technologies

Impact on Urban Form

The historic connection between transportation and urban form is well understood, at least in a descriptive sense. The connection between information and communication technology and urban form is proving more difficult to understand, and extremely difficult to forecast. Yet nowhere will the real, and everyday, impacts of information and communication technology be felt more than in the nature of urban places. In this paper we identify four areas for collaborative and comparative research: measuring accessibility, the (re)distribution of urban activities, equity and other social implications, and scenario building.

Measuring Accessibility - A number of years ago Torsten Hagerstrand wrote something to the effect that it is not so important that we measure what people do, as it is to measure what they are free to do. A common point of confusion in this regard is the connection between access, essentially a measure of potential, and mobility, essentially a measure of behavior. Mobility may/may not reflect good access depending largely on the degree of choice, the value of the activity at the destination, etc. Similarly, good access may not be of particular value if the access is not desired or is conditioned in some important manner. A major challenge, then, is to derive measures of accessibility that can capture all salient aspects to either potential or realized interaction, including both physical travel and electronic interaction (Bruinsma and Rietveld, forthcoming; Couclelis, 1996). For example, at the metropolitan level we often use a single measure of distance or time as a measure of accessibility. But how should we deal with time access that varies across the day? How could we consider multiple geographic scales simultaneously with multiple time periods? How do we incorporate notions of reliability into our definitions of access? These questions become more complicated as we attempt to deal with different modes of travel. Consider the problem of defining "level of service". Traditionally it is related to mobility, i.e., the flow of automobile traffic. But what does it mean for transit service? How do we compare, as a measure of accessibility, being located within one quarter mile of hourly service to being located within one half mile of service with 15 minute headways? How then do we compare those measures of level of service with the automobile-based measures? ICT will affect mobility, but will it affect accessibility, at least in terms of physical access? Does/Will ICT create new forms of accessibility that substitute for physical movement; how do we measure those forms of accessibility?

(Re)Distribution Of Activities - Perhaps no topic has generated more conjecture than the issue of the impacts of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and telecommuting on metropolitan form. Personal travel, commercial travel, and information may/will flow in vastly different ways as a result of new technologies. Through a combination of information, navigation, safety, monitoring, and control devices the accessibility of places can be drastically altered. In general these advances are likely to increase the capacity of systems, the total flow of travel, travel to more inaccessible places, and the further decentralization of metropolitan activities. But our understanding of the potential impacts of these changes is limited. Much more needs to be done to understand the implications of these technologies on urban form (ota, hodge cite here). One of the most important questions is the potential use of congestion pricing (and other forms of metered payments that are now feasible with ICT advancements). It is virtually certain that investments in transportation infrastructure will lag behind demand. Congestion effects (and therefore impacts on accessibility) will probably increase. Congestion pricing as an economic principle has great potential to provide a more rational pricing of a limited public good. Aside from the fact that it is enormously unpopular, we know very little about the potential impacts of congestion pricing on metropolitan form. As Elizabeth Deakin (1994, 334) concluded, congestion pricing will either " concentrate urban form" or "decentralize urban form". Our lack of a solid theoretical expectation and our inability to generate realistic models of the relationship between congestion pricing, accessibility, and metropolitan land use patterns points to an area of urgent research needs.Equity And Other Social Implications - The virtual total domination of the automobile in North American cities drives decentralization while advantaging those who have access to the automobile. Most information and communication technology developments will favor the automobile further. What are the implications of this trend for those left behind in the central cities? Does a spatial mismatch exist? If so, where, under what conditions, and for whom? The considerable literature on this topic in the US has producedssessing the probability of the realization of different potential scenarios, i.e. whether the widespread use of ICT is likely to lead us towards more sustainable national and international traveling behavior, or vice versa. Also, as the penetration rate of ICT differs among countries, it is possible that several problems will arise in the use of the national and international transportation infrastructures, in particular in the commercial flows across the continents. It is thus important to first undertake a cross-country comparison for evaluating the actual and potential future differences in the adoption of ICT and then to assess potential problems arising from these cross-country/cross-continental differences and their order of magnitude.

Finally, based on the created future scenarios, it would be important to explore how ICT can be applied to solve these problems of capacity and quaity in the transport sector. In particular, if an increase in the demand of national and international transportation networks seems likely, we need information of what kind of economic incentives the private sector needs in order to invest in the national and international tranportation infrastructure - and especially in transport telematics - to such extend that the sufficient level of efficiency, reliability and security of the transportation infrastructure is maintained and/or reached.

Conclusions
Information and communications technologies have already changed the nature of society and will certainly have further far-reaching effects on business, industry, and personal travel. Some of these changes will be global in nature; others will be ubiquitous, but local. In both instances, however, the path of current and future developments, and their impacts, will vary substantially among contexts. Thus, there is a fundamental need for both cooperative and comparative research in order to understand the probabilities, possibilities, and problems associated with ICT. How we travel and transport goods, where we travel and transport goods, and the impact of these changes on the character of specific places very much rests on the nature of the development and deployment of these critical technologies. In this paper we have attempted to identify a number of core questions about the development and impact of these technologies that are of broad common interest. Given the connections of ICT and transportation to so many aspects of society, these questions constitute a compelling research agenda for European and North American scholars.

 

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