Transport policy making processes are more and more complex. To support decision makers in this very demanding task, advanced tools and models are needed. Spotlights-TN is a scientific forum for European transport modellers to explore ways for making advanced transport models scientifically reliable, fully transparent to end-users, open and more integrated into policy-making processes.
The objective of SPOTLIGHTS-TN project was to carry out activities devoted to organise and support four different discussion lines, each one aiming to produce a new specific mechanism (procedure or tool) helping to make advanced transport models more accessible to decision-makers, so that they can make an effective use of them.
Outputs from closely related projects (e.g. ATOM, THINK-UP and TRANSTALK, among others) were included into the activities.
The work of the thematic network was centred around 4 workshops, each one in relation to a discussion line. Before the celebration of each workshop, an open electronic conference was organised.
Workshop1: Dcode-Quality control for modelling works. The goal of this discussing line was the development of a standard quality control guideline helping modellers to produce robust models and provide to end-users a security on the model scientific consistency and policy relevance (DCode). Dcode was proposed as standard mandatory annex to be included in modelling contracts between client institutions and modellers.
Workshop 2: Mdir-Directory of Models and Modellers. The goal of this discussion line was to develop clear, fair and harmonised information concerning advanced transport models. Resulting from the discussions, a first directory of models, useful for European policies, was produced (Mdir).
Workshop 3: GTF-Generalised transport data format allowing communication between models. The goal of this discussion line was exploring the interest and feasibility of adopting a generalised transport data format (GTF) as import/export process between advanced transport models. The work took the already existing GTF as starting point, and the final goal was reaching an overall agreement in relation to a generalised data model (GTF).
The Final Conference: "LTvisions- Strategies to get friendly and interactive access to advanced models". LTvisions goal was exploring new software and modelling solutions to improve model's usability. As a conclusion, a Long-Term assessment of the interest of alternative solutions was provided (LTVisions).
The main results of the four workshops are:
- Establishment of a standard mandatory or voluntary quality control procedure for modeling works (DCode);
- Establishment of an harmonized description for transport models (MDir);
- Establishment of common transport format for data exchange between advanced transport models (GTF);
- Problems and opportunities of using advanced software technologies to make modes more friendly and interactive to end-users (LTVisions)
Providing user-friendly and on-line access to models has a number of crutial advantages for both the modeller and the end-user (scientists and decision-makers). On the one hand, modellers could optimise the hardware and software tools supporting the model (since the model is actually installed in their own computer facilities) making them as productive and efficient as possible, and then provide on-line access to a potentially unlimited number of end-users. End-users could gain access to a large number of operational models and use them by themselves, removing the need to install each model (and all related databases) into their own computer system (which in most cases will be suboptimal handling advanced models, or simply incompatible).