The increasing uptake of telematics-based activity is regarded by many as a key determinant of social and economic development in the Information Society. The European Commission has invested substantial research funds in examining the consequences and potential of this type of development in a number of research programmes.
Telematics reduces drastically the costs of obtaining, manipulating, interpreting and distributing information. In particular, it is generally regarded as having the effect of eliminating partially, or even completely, information costs related to distance. Initially, this would lead one to believe that there are potentially substantial environmental benefits to be obtained as telematics is substituted for transport and transport-related environmental emissions are reduced. However, in the case of some types of telematics applications, this conclusion is not so easy to draw.
The overall aims of the project are:
- To construct a commuting model which incorporates detailed socio-economic information, for example concerning household structure and the nature of actual transport systems. Furthermore, the model will be constructed in such a manner that it can be integrated into a broader inter-regional macro-economic model for Denmark, LINE. One important aspect of this modelling work is to incorporate teleworking as a modal option within the general commuting model. Both the general commuting model and the teleworking sub-model will be constructed to enable forecasts of future transport effort, and thereby also forecasts of emissions to the environment.
- To identify causal mechanisms behind the growth of teleworking and to develop a forecasting model for teleworking in Denmark.
- To identify the nature of the relationship between changes in levels of teleworking and changes in transport effort, both for commuting and for other purposes, including both the possible substitution and complementary effects of changes in levels of teleworking and to relate these changes in transport effort to changes in emissions to the environment.
- To identify the types and characteristics of firms or organisations which promote teleworking and to identify the barriers to its implementation.
The project is carried out in 7 steps:
- Step 1 involves the construction of a commuting model based on a spatial interaction theory, incorporating a number of key socio-economic variables which permit a considerable degree of model refinement. The data involved in this stage of the project are the RAS-statistics and other relevant data, e.g. from the Danish Ministry of the Interior.
- Step 2 involves the application of econometric methods, including the logit model and regression analysis. The TU questionnaire and the ECaTT database will be used.
- Step 3 is a diary-based empirical study with about 100 respondents in a before-and-after teleworking situation. This step includes questions concerning possible long-term effects on location.
- Step 4 involves translation of savings in transport effort into reduction of emissions, using the TEMA model.
- Step 5 involves incorporation of teleworking in the commuting sub-model to be incorporated in the interregional model LINE.
- Step 6 involves analysis of the characteristics of firms which promote teleworking.
- Step 7 involves policy experiments carried out using the models developed in the earlier steps.
Statistical analyses and model calculations have been carried out in order to estimate the importance of teleworking with regards to transport, environment and economic activity. The analyses have resulted in five papers describing the amount of teleworking and its influences on commuter costs, salaries, productivity and regional development.
The data collected indicate a positive correlation between teleworking and transport. However, this paradox can be explained by the fact that teleworking is mainly used by high income employees who also have high transport activity.
The overall implications show a reduction of transport work. However, there is also a change in transport patterns, as the teleworking releases a family car for other travel purposes.