Interview with Daniël Termont, mayor of Ghent: the opportunities of smart mobility

  • knowledge society
  • mobility

Daniël Termont, mayor of Ghent and EUROCITIES vice president, talks to us about smart mobility.

Daniël Termont represented EUROCITIES at the European Commission's event, ‘Transport for smart cities: scaling up innovation in Europe’ on 28 January. We took the opportunity to ask him a few questions on the topic:

What opportunities does smart mobility present for your city?

Daniël Termont: “Smart mobility will reduce CO2 emissions coming from vehicles; it will increase capacity and reduce costs. But above all, it will improve the liveability of our cities and the quality of life of our citizens. It will ensure that our city has more green public spaces and fluid mobility for everyone; it will literally add oxygen in our city.”

How can cities capitalise on citizen participation in this field?

DT: “A true smart city involves as many civilians as possible in its policy making. Bottom up beats top down. In Ghent, we ensure the involvement of Ghentians in (amongst others) the ‘Ghent Living Lab’, in which we have already set up different projects on smart mobility.

The ‘sharing economy’ should enter the field of mobility, since ‘sharing is the new having’. This would open a big window of opportunity. Mobility as a service – let’s Spotify our mobility, so to speak! That evolution is already on its way, as is shown by the setting up of different sharing systems for bikes and cars. Ghent too will have its own bike sharing system soon.”

What support do cities need to develop and implement smart mobility solutions?

DT: “Cities need a stable climate for investments. What’s more, higher levels of government should invest in climate neutral infrastructure. On top of that, we need the knowledge of public and private experts, for example in Ghent the research institutions like iMinds and VITO, big companies, and NGOs like ‘Mobiel 21’. European programs such as Horizon 2020 help us to set up experiments together with other cities – it goes without saying that EUROCITIES plays a very important role in that field. And, finally: let’s all open and share our data! Recently, the city of Ghent had signed an agreement with the (Google) Waze community, as one of the first governments in Europe.”