City Creators

A COWI blog about Urban Development

COWI in Washington D.C: Towards a digital-age of mobility

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Between the 9th and 13th of January COWI participated in a series of events and meetings on mobility and planning in Washington D.C.

Firstly, we joined the Transportation Research board (TRB) 96th annual meeting that gathered more than 12,000 transportation professionals from all around the world. At TRB Giulia presented ideas and approaches on improving walkability and public spaces around transport hubs.

Giulia Maci from Urbego Copenhagen Office (COWI innovation partner) represented COWI and Urbego at the event organized by the Embassy of Denmark and World Resource Institute, entitled “Rethinking urban transformation: how can bicycles and public spaces result in better cities?”, sharing some Danish and European examples of integrated mobility systems. The event was preceded by a demonstrative bicycle tour in Washington city center together with e.g. the Danish Ambassador Lars Lose, the Director of Danish Cyclist Federation Klaus Bondam and representatives from cities and districts in USA.

Finally, the small COWI delegation joined the “Transforming Transportation” conference at the World Bank, connecting with relevant partners and donors and exploring possibilities for future cooperations. Adding new infrastructure capacity to relieve congestion is notoriously slow and expensive, considering the land to be acquired, environmental and social impacts to be assessed and permits to be obtained by public authorities. However, these days of different discussions and presentations, showed that innovative ways of making more efficient use of existing infrastructures are already out there, ready to be tested and implemented. Digitalization in the form of big data, can help to make the existing transportation network more efficient and user-friendly.


Services like real-time ridesharing or car-sharing are limiting car ownership and making private cars like extensions of the public transportation system. New apps are allowing commuters to compare costs, time, convenience, environment impact and health benefits across all the modes of private and public transport, including pedestrian movements, and allowing a decision making that takes into account real-time conditions and changes. Moreover, autonomous vehicles, like Google´s self-driving cars, use a variety of traffic data to constantly be aware of their position. Dynamic adjustment mechanisms of parking or roads prices and shared-use assets are helping balance supply and demand and the rational use of space and resources. In general, the transport field will be:

  • inter-connected, where users can move, using different modes of transport
  • user-oriented, where the quality of the travelling experience is at the core of the mobility plan
  • based on private-public collaboration which involves different stakeholders, e.g. through transit oriented development
  • shared and flexible, balancing and integrating supplies and demands.

COWI can play an important role in this upcoming digital-age mobility system, building on the ongoing experience of CitySense, creating synergies from different departments, looking at mobility from an holistic and complex perspective that includes urban planning and citizens and, more importantly, investing in innovation.

Do you want to know more about the tour and COWI’s work with digital-age mobility?

Giulia Maci, Urbego Copenhagen Office, COWI

Jesper Mertner, Market Director, Urban Planning and Transport, COWI



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