Can you please briefly introduce yourself and Provincie Noord-Holland?There are a lot of new things happening in the mobility field: shared mobility, automated cars, electrification, digitalization and AI, urban air mobility, to name some. My job is to see what al these developments mean for our day to day traffic. Is a new development a hype or should we ‘get on the train’? Working for the government there are questions like: are there societal benefits, do we need regulations, must we allow it or should we ban it, etc. Finding the answers to these questions means that I have to be broadly informed on both new technologies and techniques and our societal challenges, such as climate change, housing and biodiversity. As an urban planner, I always connect mobility questions to spatial and environmental issues. My advantage is that I have worked at all levels of government; national, regional and local so that I know how to get things done on each of these levels. At the Province of Noord-Holland where I currently work, I am responsible for the short and long term strategies on Smart Mobility. The province is a regional authority, road operator and concession grantor. Next to that I am a Program Manager at Amsterdam Smart City which is a public-private partnership on innovations in mobility, energy, circularity and digitalization.
What new innovation or development has made your job easier in the past 5 years? It can be new technology, new thinking, new legislation… what would it be? And why?
There are several new innovations that made my live better, and not only mine I hope. Better information on public transport and road navigation has made travel much more clear and accessible. Also for my biking trips! And of course shared mobility: I use shared cars and shared bikes often in combination with public transport. And I love using e-scooters although they are not allowed in the Netherlands (so I use them in Brussels and Madrid). I am also a big fan of car automation for it is so much safer. I’m a big fan of Cruize in San Francisco despite the negative publicity they get. Finally, because I work at a government where we have to make a lot of reports and from time to time I find inspiration in Chat GPT. Don’t tell my boss.....
Which trend or topic do you think is going to be the number one conversation starter in 2024? This year for example was undoubtedly the proliferation of artificial intelligence in smart mobility solutions.
It is always tricky to predict what will be happening, often reality overtakes prediction. Nevertheless, the buzz word for next year might well be drones or (more sophisticated) Urban Air Mobility. Developments are moving very rapidly and it probably will be hyped either in 2024 or the year after. It is no coincidence that Intertraffic Amsterdam 2024 coincides with Amsterdam Drone Week (come and see, you’ll be amazed!).
If you could change one thing about the mobility sector that will be of benefit to society as a whole, what would that be?
It will benefit the society enormously if the debate on car use would be less polarized and more informative. We could use a little less car orientation in our societies but it seems unmentionable. Cars just use a lot of scarce space which can be used for other purposes such as recreation, playgrounds, housing, etc. We are so biased in our view that we focus on the one e-scooter that fell on the sidewalk and have become blind to the hundreds of cars blocking the view. Also for environmental purposes the bias on cars is not good, even when they al get electrified. But this does not mean that nobody can go by car anymore, nor that free choice to go anywhere will be affected.
Away from the business world, what would constitute a perfect Saturday for you?
A perfect Saturday starts with a good training with my running mates, a good bath afterwards, and some time to relax and read a book. Then a visit to the market with my two sons, some joint cooking and then a get-together with friends and family to enjoy the company and the food and drinks that we prepared. And to top it of we might go to the cinema to watch a movie (especially those with a good soundtrack). We go by bike to every venue.
You are recognised as one of the public faces of your company, but what would you like to be remembered for, however?
Inspiration to think a little differently, to contribute to the greater good and the goals we have. I would like to leave this place thinking it has changed for the better, and I was part of that change.
If there is anything you would like to share that is not covered in the previous questions?There is a huge task in front of us. Climate change and the loss of biodiversity is changing this planet for the worse. Unfortunately the ways in which we move contribute to the decay of our planet. So we have to change our mobility patterns. We need innovations to help us with this, such as shared mobility, automation and digitalization but it is also necessary to be conscious about our mobility behaviour. Smart Mobility is not about new techniques and gadgets, it’s about a transition towards a more sustainable, safe and inclusive mobility system.