When the province of North Brabant asked for asphalt we convinced them that a piece of software might be a better answer to their needs. The province issued a request for tender concerning the reconstruction a notoriously jammed and dangerous provincial road in the south-east of Holland. As usual, the winning bid would be the most economic combination, but in this case 'Credit Points' could be earned and 'deducted' from the bid by creating sustainability measures. Unsurprisingly all teams came up with solar panels and wind turbines and so did our combination. But in addition to that we also offered to develop a device that would really affect the environment: an App that will aggregate the driving behaviour off all drivers on that particular road and advise the individual drivers Real Time on how they actually drive and how they should drive on this particular moment. Since the App 'knows' everything', the App will be able to instruct the driver accordingly in order to avoid traffic jams, accidents, red lights etc.
Is it possible that Road Design affords sensible, safe or even righteous and moral behaviour at the wheel?
We called the App Flowman. Flowman picks up engine metrics that are available through the On Board Diagniostic system (Abbreviated to OBD and unless you drive a classic, even your car has one stashed away somewhere in your dash). The team connected a WiFi transmitter to this port turning our testcar into a DataSpace. The Flowman App read these metrics and assessed how clean, safe or sensible the car was driving. The innovative aspect is that Flowman does not only consider YOUR driving behaviour but also the car in front of you as well as all others who have passed that trajectory in space and time. On the basis of this aggregated date it calculates a personal desired driving plan and adapts its feedback continuously based on your actual response. Individual drivers can access te Flowman database to get access to their indiviual logs and stats and compare these with the rest of the population.
In a team with architects, landscapers and Information architects KVD reframed the assignment which was geared towards Construction, Road and Landscape design: If the Road Design affords smoother flow, less jams, lower speeds it will affect sustainabilty in a positive way. The landscapers came up with an open, uncluttered road design matching the somewhat uncultivated sandy tracts supporting low vegetation (typically coarse grasses and Ericaceae) and occasionally scattered tree growth, particularly Pine. All Lighting systems and road signs are specially designed for this road to communicates being a Green Road. This road (N239) which will be the reference for Future Road Design.
A very important conclusion was that the potential benefits of sustainablilty measures such as adding devices that generate or capture and store energy are marginal in comparison with the behavioural aspects of driving: even a very modest improvement in speed or less de- and acceleration will result in massive improvements that will be in effect every minute the road processes traffic.