Modelling on the Move Symposium – a write-up

This article describes a symposium hosted by the University of Oxford’s Transport  Studies Unit (TSU) on December 7th 2012. Entitled Modelling on the Move the event kicked-off a new series of seminars sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The aim is to explore how quantitative models can inform a transition to a low-carbon transport system, by “bringing together researchers and practitioners to discuss innovative ways of responding to pressing policy problems in transport”. The premise of the series is the interlinked problems of the obesity crisis, climate change and oil depletion.

My first thought, before the conference had even begun, was respect to the organisers for facing such overriding problems with our transport systems head-on, rather than fiddling around the edges or arguing over academic minutiae. This symposium aimed to tackle the ‘big issues’, against the grain of academia’s tendency to “tell us more and more about less and less” (Gallagher and Appenzeller, 1999).

Convener Rachel Aldred introduced the need for ‘systemic transition’ in the context of climate and energy objectives, obesity and economic crises and the rise of ‘big data’. It was certainly a broad remit. Below I sketch how researchers focussed on one or more of these objectives are harnessing new modelling techniques and collaborating to foresee the transport systems of the future.

Specifically there were talks on:

The slides and audio from these talks have been made available online, and can be accessed from the Modelling on the Move website by clicking on the above talk titles. Or, for a more general summary from one perspective, read on. Continue reading Modelling on the Move Symposium – a write-up