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Shaping The Future Of Urban Transportation Share Share

Dubai - EPFL Middle East recently held the first in a series of workshops on the intelligent governance of large urban systems

The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) workshop provided an overview of the management and governance of transportation systems across the greater Middle East region. In particular, the workshop explored the role ICTs already play and increasingly will play in urban transportation systems with specific examples from the GCC region.

Over 15 senior and high-profile participants from the across the GCC region, UAE, Portugal and Switzerland attended the workshop.  They included policy-makers from the municipal and local governments, academics and private sector representatives from ICT, engineering, construction & transport companies.

The workshop’s goal was to foster a community of regional experts in intelligent transport management and governance. “Further workshops of a similar format will be held in 2012 and will cover intelligent urban energy, water, and environmental systems” says Prof. Matthias Finger, the organizer of the workshops, Professor at EPFL Switzerland and Director of Executive Education at EPFL Middle East. 

The participants from RTA, IBM and IBM Smart Cities, Stevens Institute of Technology, SAMTech, Technical University of Lisbon, Masdar Institute and EPFL Middle East,  gathered to consider and to identify the role ICT’s can play in making transportation systems more efficient and less congested.  They also explored how intelligence can be embedded into transportation systems, and looked at how ICT’s can be leveraged to improve mobility.  The group discussed ways in which ICT’s can help improve the governance of transportation systems and analyzed how intelligent systems can be used so that users become more active participants in governance.

Nikolas Geroliminis, Associated Professor from EPFL confirmed “We have been able to bring together colleagues from academia with diversity in background (Political Science, Computer Science, Civil Engineering)  and location (Switzerland, Portugal, UAE), decision makers and public authorities plus ICT companies with strong reputation. The different transportation applications related to ICT were discussed under the same umbrella (Logistics, Shared transportation, Service on Demand, Traffic Management, Future Cities and so on.)  The key outcomes of the workshop demonstrated that well-developed cities in the UAE that have excellent infrastructure and Smart Technologies can utilize ICT to provide better operations and less congestion, by centralizing the different sources of data (e.g. taxi data, public transport data, loop detector data). While smart traffic management strategies can decrease delays by at least 15% and keep pace with increase in travel demand without a need for more infrastructure”.

Dr Franco Vigliotti, Dean of EPFL Middle East concurs and goes on to point out that “ICT will increasingly shape and enable the deployment of smart, sustainable transportation systems; from individual assisted mobility, to clustered and distributed intelligence enhancing collective flows in large urban environments. The implementation of the PRT demonstrator in Masdar City, or the metro in Dubai are great examples of the technologies available today. The workshop reflected on the new drivers that will shape tomorrow’s transportation, such as those developed in the 37 laboratories of the Transportation Center of EPFL”

The two days where structured around the inputs of the participants with each participant required to make an active contribution by presenting their area of expertise and participating in discussions.

Dr Sgouris Sgouridis, Assistant Professor of Engineering Systems and Management Masdar Institute of Science and Technology attended the two day event and observed that “the EPFL ME organized workshop brought together key stakeholders on transportation ICT policy, industry and research in a unique way for the UAE. Such open exchange of ideas can lead to a coordination of approaches across the Emirates leading to a significantly more sustainable, integrated and user friendly transportation system”.

For more information please contact


Prof Matthias Finger, PhD

École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne EPFL

T: +41.21.693.00.01

E: matthias.finger@epfl.ch