Travel Substitution by Telematics

The topic of this workshop "Travel Substitution by Telematics" looks back to 25 years of publishing, but still is like fishing in the dark. Thus I suggest to discuss some unconventional ideas. First I'd like to start with some statements to be discussed.

A. Traffic Reduction and/or Substitution mainly is aim of local and regional planning and politics. There the environmental impact of traffic is present at most. Central Governments or big companies usually have much less interest in traffic substitution. Our activities therefore should cooperate on a very decentralized level.

B. Urban and metropolitan areas do have a lot of chances to substitute individual motorized traffic by public/mass transport. Rural areas cannot provide effective mass transport and therefore more urgently need other modes of travel substitution. Also each journey substituted would be a longer one - so the environmental advantages of travel substitution are bigger in rural areas. Our activities therefore should concentrate on areas with low densities of population.

C. There is a big difference in electro-magnetique pollution between cable- and wireless telematics. Also capacity-limits (though on a very high level) say, that wireless telematics should not be spoiled for everyday-information. Cable-telematics do not have these problems. As single houses hardly can be supplied with advanced cables (unless the cable comes along anyway!), our subject mainly should concern compact villages and towns from 50 to 5000 people.

D. Human beings experience the world mainly by watching while moving in space. So travel substitution needs simulating moving in space. This means moving pictures via broad-band cheap on everybody's desktop. Not ISDN or the symbols of MS-Windows, but only moving pictures like in TV or in the latest generation of Computer-Games might match the fascination of the private car. If this happens - and the infrastructure is available - applications inevitabby will be launched privately.

Contemporary developments tend to ignore these conditions and so might miss a lot of chances for advanced telematics. Also this might lead to more traffic instead of reducing traffic. One reason seems to be, that telematics are planned and applied mainly by private business in big companies - local or regional influence is hardly found. EC could help coordinate local and regional planning with infrastructure and application of telematics. Some examples are:

1. Modification of net-architecture

There is always a varity of choices for technical design of main lines, form of nets, connection points, capacities, amplifiers etc. Knowing their technical needs, the architecture of nets also could be adapted to the needs of towns or regions.

2. Modification of Priorities

Following the greatest demand for telecommunication services might cause or enlarge regional biasses and/or high social costs. Priority or at least some respect for regions or town-quarters with lower demand (in other words: longer cables!) might avoid these disadvantages.

3. Modification of Fees

Telematic fees are aimed to be the same everywhere, i.e. without regarding distances. This does not count, that every message needs "switching points", that cause costs and/or limit capacities. Their amount depends on the number of competing and connected net-users within the part of net that is used - it does not depend on the area covered. If fees were counted according to the "switching Distance", this would come closer to cost-adequate fees. Same number of participants would mean same fees. There also would be a great advantage for rural areas of low density.

4. Public information about telematics on local level

Local and regional authorities should be well informed about all options for modifications described above; as well as about risks and chances of different kinds of telematics. There is need to develop criteria an methods for local and regional telematic-plans. Also information of citizen should be launched on local level.

5. Framework for local regulations

Free decisions on local level would have the danger of protectism. EC could launch a discussion about a legislative framework, within which local and regional needs for telematics could be respected. The German "Planungsrecht" gives an example: The "Telegrafenwegegesetz" already gives some (although not enough!) influence on telematicplanning to communities.

6. Pilot projects for advanced telematics application

The EC should launch pilot projects applying these ideas. One example could be a project "Infobahn Crossing the Alpes". A connection between Germany/Austria/Italy would touch rural areas of high technical standard; traffic reducing there would be of great ecological value and would find very decisive politics especially in Austria.