The European integration process and the economic growth have stimulated freight and passenger traffic among the Member States with increasing congestion and environmental risks. An adequate information tool at the European level was deemed most necessary by policy makers to look for sustainable solutions to transport needs.
Many research projects within the Strategic sector of the Transport Research Programme have contributed to the development of the European Transport policy Information System (ETIS), focusing on national transport databanks, identification of data gaps, data collection and database methodologies, definition of basic concepts and standards for the ETIS, and development of a pilot prototype. The variety of the issues and the need for streamlined planning and co-ordination were the reasons for the launch of the CONCERTO project.
The CONCERTO project aimed to be a permanent forum supporting the implementation of the European Transport policy Information System (ETIS) and assisting the Concerted Action Committee on Information System (CAC-IS) in exchanging research results and making the ETIS useful for the European Commission, the Member States and the different user groups.
Specific objectives of the project were:
- To promote the development of the ETIS by involving the on-going research projects in the Information Systems domain, the Member States and the Commission;
- To support and facilitate the linkage of the research activities on ETIS with the operational needs at a European level;
- To identify development guidelines for the ETIS able to anticipate policy making and technology evolutions. In a second phase of the project the following objectives were added:
- To develop a pilot study to demonstrate the need and to test the feasibility of the ETIS in the Transalpine area;
- To assess, with a forecasting model, transport and socio-economic effects of the closures provoked by unforeseen accidents of two main Alpine tunnels.
The Concerto project has been a real catalyst of the ETIS development process. A detailed questionnaire has been developed and distributed to the co-ordinators of the ETIS-related research projects to collect data following the ETIS framework fixed by the INFOSTAT project. The answers have been uploaded on a special database called “Gateway to Projects” available on the project web site http://concerto.ece.ntua.gr/questionnaires.
A specific Transport Metadatabase containing definitions on policy issues, transport concepts, indicators (demand, supply, impacts), methodologies and data sources has been built to contribute to the assessment of research projects and the consolidation of their results in the perspective of the ETIS development (http://concerto.ece.ntua.gr/metadatabase).
In the Transalpine ATIS (ETIS applied to the Alps) Pilot study, many research project results have been integrated and elaborated and an Alpine Transport Information System focussing on the freight element has been built up. The Transalpine pilot model projections have proved to be consistent with the observations on the major roads of the Alps, strengthening the simulation system credibility in quantifying policy effects.
The project has built a permanent platform for the dialogue between the decision makers, the research teams and the industry. The significant number of common gatherings organized by the CONCERTO project and the range of the discussion topics have enabled the various parties to look at the ETIS development from different points of view. The positive and negative effects of the ETIS developments have been evaluated and complementarity and synergy effects between research projects identified. The analyses have shown that the potential benefits are more numerous than the disadvantages for both the European Commission and the Member States.
As an effect of the CONCERTO dissemination and concerting activities, the attitude of the policy makers towards the ETIS has moved from an abstract and theoretical interest to an operative need. All the CONCERTO activity results have been registered in order to be easily accessible for further work and possibly full implementation of the ETIS in the ETIS-BASE, ETIS-LINK and ETIS-AGENT projects of the Fifth Framework Programme. The time for the ETIS implementation has definitely matured.