Urban Smart Measures and Incentives for quality of Life Enhancement

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Accessibility and sustainability are important conditions for vital and resilient cities, but are under pressure especially in urban areas. Congestion, local air quality, parking; these are different challenges that, however, have in common that effective solutions require behavioural change in addition to technological innovation. This project aims to develop, test and evaluate “smart” measures to affect behaviour. The measures are smart in the first place because they offer an innovative mix of negative and positive financial incentives, thus bypassing some of the main disadvantages of pricing (notably a very limited acceptability) and of rewarding (in particular limited budgets and induced demand). The measures are also smart because they have a highly innovative technological character, not only from the conceptual viewpoint (e.g. tradable driving permits) but also from the technological perspective (e.g. linking real time automated vehicle identification to virtual market environments). These smart measures will be studied from a multidisciplinary perspective, where forces are joined among economists, psychologists, traffic engineers and policy analysts, and will be evaluated from the perspectives of effectiveness, acceptability, and efficiency - paying attention to key urban challenges such as accessibility and environmental quality. The project has a very strong rooting in the urban reality as the case studies are undertaken jointly with Amsterdam Zuidas, Rotterdam, Groningen, and the Amsterdam ArenA area.


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Dept. of Spatial Economics:
Prof. dr. Erik Verhoef (Principal Investigator)
Dr. Paul Koster
Dr. Jasper Knockaert
Postdoc: Yue Bao  

University of Groningen, Dept. of Social Psychology: 
Prof. dr. Linda Steg
Dr. Ellen van der Werff
PhD Student: Nadja Zeiske

TU Delft, Section Transport and Planning: 
Prof. dr. Hans van Lint    
Dr. Victor Knoop
Postdoc: Kai Yuan

TU Delft, Section Transport and Logistics, TU Delft: 
Prof. dr. Bert van Wee
Dr. Eric Molin      
PhD Student: Lizet Krabbenborg

University of Applied Sciences, Amsterdam, Urban Technology Research Programme:
Dr. Robert van den Hoed
Jan Dam
Milan Tamis
Marco van Hees
Ruben Stam


Amsterdam Zuidas / Zuidasdok:
Finn van Leeuwen
Marian Robben
Niels van den Brink 
Leendert van der Linden

Debra van Kleinwee

Ewout Spit
Hans Stevens
Steven Butter

Maurits van Höwell

Gemeente Amsterdam:
Art van der Giessen
Bertold Plugboer


Hadewijch van Delft
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam


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  • Schuitema, G. and L. Steg (2018). Road charges in real time are not a silver bullet. Nature 564 (7734), p. 39.
  • Steg, L. et al. (2018). Summary for policy makers. In: Global warming of 1.5oC (V. Masson-Delmotte et al. (eds). World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 32 pp.
  • Steg, L. (2018). Limiting climate change to 1.5oC. Invited lecture given a the Chemical Convention, organized by the European chemical industry Council, held in Amsterdam, 25 October.
  • Steg, L. (2018). The human dimension of climate change: Psychology in the IPCC SR1.5oC. Invited lecture given at the Green GP Week - Climate science week, Session Public Engagement of a 1.50C world: The sicne of climate change communication, held in London, 15 October.
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  • Verhoef, E.T., D. Brands, J. Knockaert and P. Koster (2018). Verhandelbare mobiliteitsrechten: kansrijke piekmaatregel?NM Magazine 13(1): 17-19.
  • Verhoef, E.T. (2018). Verhandelbare spitsrechten als oplossing voor de files, blog on www.spatialeconomics.nl.
  • Verhoef, E.T. (2018). Trading Trips. Presentation given at the ITEA (International Transportation Economics Association) Annual Conference on Transportation Economics, held in Hong Kong, 25-29 June.
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  • Zwaal, B.A., V.L. Knoop and H. van Lint (in press). The Effect of Traffic Signals on the Macroscopic Fundamental Diagram. Proceedings of Traffic and Granular Flow 2017. Berlin: Springer.
  • Brands, D. (2017). The lasting impact of incentives: evidence from a peak-avoidance experiment, paper presented at the ITEA Annual Conference on Transportation, Barcelona, 22 June.
  • Verhoef, E.T. (2017). Managing congestion with tradable permits: The best of both worlds?, blog on www.spatialeconomics.nl.
  • Zeiske, N. (2017). The motivational impact of smart incentives to promote sustainable behaviour. Presentation held at the International Conference of Environmental Psychology in A Coruna, Spain, 29 August-1 September.
  • Verhoef, E.T. (2016). Stelling over de actualiteit: Eénmaal andermaal... geparkeerd!Verkeer in beeld, online publication, 16 March.




Start of the project: 1 April, 2016
Expected end of the project: 
1 August, 2020

STATE OF AFFAIRS - MARCH, 2017 (in Dutch)


U-SMILE is a SURF (Smart Urban Regions of the Future) project, which is part of VerDuS (Verbinden van Duurzame Steden - Connecting Sustainable Cities). Within this knowledge initiative, scientific researchers work together with professionals to develop knowledge that helps address issues relating, for example, to urbanisation, the environment, mobility and transport. VerDuS is an initiative of NWO (the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research), Platform 31 and various Dutch ministries.

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