The research activity at the basis of this website aims at identifying the key drivers  in social, economic, environmental and technological domains that are likely to play a dominant role in the next decades in Europe and influence current and future mobility patterns.

So far, a huge amount of research projects and scientific publications have investigated the relationships between relevant socio-economic drivers and mobility patterns. Generally, the demand for the transport sector is examined by placing the sector itself at the centre of the analysis, and investigating variables that influence the changes to mobility and transport patterns. Nevertheless it cannot be neglected that transport demand is generated by factors that are exogenous to the transport sector and that mobility rises to satisfy specific individual needs as clearly expressed by the purpose for which passenger trips are made.

In order to identify the drivers of transport demand and its dynamics a detailed analysis of sectors of activities outside the transport domain is therefore needed.

The effort made by COMPASS is trying to overcome the boundary of consolidated transport sector research and expanding the investigation of factors potentially affecting mobility also to the different domains of reality. The objective of this widening lies not only in the need to enrich the analysis of “well-known” key drivers, but mainly in the interest of complementing the investigation with additional side aspects potentially influencing mobility that could gain increasing importance in decades to come.

The research

The research builds upon a wide review of existing literature, ranging from studies addressing the relationships between relevant socio-economic trends and mobility to other studies not directly addressing future mobility, but dealing with expected social, technological and economic transformations.  

The analysis framework is based on the scanning of the Social, Technical, Environmental and Economic domains in order to provide an in-depth snapshot of the main drivers potentially impacting on current and future mobility patterns.  For each domain the main factors have been selected and, for each factor, the key drivers have been identified and reviewed in terms of:

  • Driver description intended at providing an overview of driver’s nature, together with a summary of the existing and expected trends, when available;
  • Interactions within the domain the driver belongs to, that explores the main intra-domain relationships with other drivers;
  • Interactions with the remaining domains, which completes the coverage of possible relationships with the drivers of other domains;
  • Impacts on mobility and transport highlighted and discussed in terms of the potential effects that the driver and its interactions has or could have on passenger demand (in terms of spatial and temporal distribution, population segments involved, behavioural aspects, etc.) and on the related transport modes.

A specific attention was paid to the energy sector and to its related drivers which occur in all domains except the social one. This choice was made to respond to the complexity of the aspects related to energy which plays a fundamental role in the Economy domain (given the importance of energy availability and prices for production and trade of goods and for the economic competitiveness of a country), in the Environmental domain (given the environmental impacts deriving from the production and consumption of energy sources) as well as in the Technology domain (for the importance of pursuing energy efficiency and energy production from renewable sources).  Obviously these aspects are highly interlinked and tend to overlap to some extent.

This website is intended to provide a structured overview of what is currently available in the research field acting as a compass that helps the reader to surf the wide literature collection.

Presenting the results

The COMPASS project team recognises the importance, often neglected in similar activities, of preserving the integrity of the literature material and the point of view of the authors.  It was a specific aim of the project team to present the results of this interesting review without proposing any “pre-established” interpretation key, allowing the reader the possibility to draw conclusions by him/herself.

To pursue this goal, the project team proposes a new approach in presenting the outcome of this review by putting the documents at the centre of the scene through the selection of significant quotations and their structuring within the predefined analysis framework.

In several cases, the literature review provided different, or even contradictory, interpretations of the same phenomenon; all the points of view are equally included in the website.

Documents the quotations stem from are clearly identified through the COMPASS identification code (e.g. CO_0001) and can be downloaded from the library , thus providing the reader with the possibility to satisfy any complementary need of information.

Authors’ conclusions

Authors’ conclusions on current and future trends potentially impacting mobility patterns as emerged during the research are here presented.

The COMPASS project team is aware that diverse interpretations may arise from the surfing of the website as in several cases reviewed literature provided different, if not contradictory, interpretations of the same phenomenon.  Additionally, several other hypothetical scenarios may arise when considering the combination of different factors, thus making it even more difficult to reach an indisputable point of view.  Therefore the synthesis provided reflects the authors’ understanding on key drivers and their potential impacts and should not be intended as substitutive of a complete reading of the web pages.