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Cristina Pronello awarded the Senior Researcher prize at TRA VISIONS 2020

5 March 2021

"A continuous and outstanding contribution to research on intermodal transport". This was the motivation for awarding the Senior Researcher prize in the TRA VISIONS 2020 competition to Professor Cristina Pronello, Professor of Transport at the Politecnico.

Professor Pronello was awarded in the category of intermodal transport, one of the five 'pillars', the areas of the competition funded by the European Union and organised by TRA (Transport Research Arena), the most important European conference on transport, which received 81 applications from 20 European countries.

The award takes into account the contribution the researchers have made during their careers in the field of transport, with projects funded by the European Union. Pronello was awarded also for her contribution to the OPTICITIES (Optimise Citizen Mobility and Freight Management in Urban Environments) project, which focuses on improving transport networks by developing synergies between public institutions and private companies, testing Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) to support a user-centric approach that focuses on the needs of transport users.

Professor Pronello's research activity focuses on two main topics: the environmental impacts of transport systems and travel behaviour and Information Technology solutions, which cut across the common theme of sustainable mobility.

In the context of OPTICITIES, Pronello coordinated one part of the project, related to the use of ITS to achieve more sustainable mobility. She studied for three years the perception, attitudes and behaviour of transport users, to understand if and how smart mobility technologies could influence travel behaviour, inducing a modal shift towards more sustainable mobility. The results led to a rethinking of the way mobility data is collected. Starting with an innovative way of data collection, followed by the development of an app designed as an educational tool to make people aware of the consequences of their mobility. This allowed Pronello to establish a living lab in France, now replicated in Italy, and lay the groundwork for launching a start-up that uses technology to create social innovation. The principle is that more informed people are, more inclined they are to provide their data to overturn the current transport planning paradigm.

The consortium behind OPTICITIES, consisting of 25 partners from 8 countries, has tested these tools in six major cities, trying to develop solutions that can be implemented in a short time and adapted to the different contexts of European cities, with very different typologies of transport systems. The results of the OPTICITIES studies are expected to induce a 6% modal shift, with a saving of 1.5 MT of CO2, the expansion of the transport market by EUR 211 million per year and a 10% reduction in the use of private cars, with a gain of approximately 3.6 million square metres of public space.