INSIGHT: SOCRATES project releases framework for European interactive traffic management system


The public-private partnership involved in the pan-European SOCRATES 2.0 (System of Coordinated Roadside and Automotive Services for Traffic Efficiency and Safety) project has developed a framework for the program’s joint vision, and Traffic Technology Today has an exclusive insight into the project’s aims and ambitions as it moves to develop a fully interactive traffic management system.

Co-funded by the European Commission (EC), the SOCRATES 2.0 project brings together road authorities, service providers and auto makers to develop a system that will exchange and integrate all the available roadway information, in order to provide smart traffic management and navigation services, while paving the way for the widespread introduction of self-driving vehicles. In parallel with the delivery of the framework, the public and private partners involved in the project have started work on the designs and use-cases that will be trialed in the four pilot sites: Amsterdam (Netherlands), Copenhagen (Denmark), Munich (Germany), and Antwerp (Belgium).

The strategic framework is a key guide for all the relevant stakeholders in implementing a fully-interactive traffic management system. The framework consists of:

• The project’s vision: The partners wanted to establish something new and not just improve an existing concept of cooperation. To do so, they recognized that a paradigm shift should be made from ‘managing and influencing traffic’ to ‘supporting people on their travel from A to B’;

• Services for road users: The steps defining the interactions between participants and systems to achieve the goals of smart routing, actual speed and lane advice, local real-time information, and hazard warnings;

• Options for cooperation amongst the stakeholders: Besides creating a theoretical framework, they also made a first inventory of preferred options, outlining the partners’ requirements to be able to fully realize the eventual services;

• The concept of the ‘intermediary’: Based on the services and cooperation models, an intermediary could have a role in data exchange coordination, aggregation, fusion, quality control, and creating a common picture. The framework describes a number of typical options for the intermediary role, to be selected and elaborated in the next stage of the project.

TTT spoke exclusively to SOCRATES project manager, Tiffany Vlemmings, about the program’s ambitions:

What do you hope SOCRATES 2.0 will achieve?

“The partners in this consortium are determined to develop ways to work together in order to best serve the road user on their travel from A to B, while also pursuing societal goals like faster, greener and safer traffic. The partners are exploring the optimal arrangement of roles for both public and private entities. We want to establish a solid and sustainable foundation for a European deployment of interactive traffic management, that is relevant and valuable to all relevant stakeholders in traffic management: international service providers, car manufacturers, ITS companies and road authorities. At the end of this project we would like to be able to say that we really established something new, and not just improved an existing concept of cooperation. And, not least, we are going to develop new and smart traffic and navigation services: for example, smart routing, speed and lane advice, and local warnings about (temporary) road works and dangerous situations.”

What do you envisage being the major challenges in reaching these goals?

“Different partners in SOCRATES have different goals. Serving the collective interest might be a common tool, but the goals for the governments differ from the goals of the private partners involved. This poses a challenge on the collaboration: how can we make sure that the collaboration is in the interest of any party involved. Can the common good be served while in the meantime market differentiation allows different private partners to meet their business cases? This is one of the main challenges we face.”

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About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).