CAPTN Initiative receives state funding for innovative public transport project

3. March 2023

Designing an overarching mobility chain requires extensive collection and analysis of various kinds of data. The CAPTN Flex smart city project aims to develop AI methods that improve prediction, flexibility public transport that is based on needs not schedules. The state of Schleswig-Holstein is funding the project with almost 443,000 euros from the special AI fund.

The CAPTN initiative wants establish a sustainable, modern public transport system that meets the needs of all citizens. With the new CAPTN Flex project, the research partners Kiel University and the Flensburg-based company r2p GmbH are developing a smart city project that will make an important contribution to the new generation of data-based local public transport network. For this, the consortium is relying primarily on artificial intelligence – and is receiving funds from the Special Fund for the Promotion of the Use of Artificial Intelligence in Schleswig-Holstein. Today, the Minister of Digitalization, Dirk Schrödter, gave out a funding notice totaling almost 443,000 euros.

The aim of this project is to collect and process traffic-relevant data of a metropolitan region and thus depict a real-time situation. Using machine-learning methods, the research partners want to create models for forecasting traffic events and corresponding recommendations for action.

Project partner Professor Dr. Dirk Nowotka, head of Dependable Systems group at Kiel University, explains that a holistic acquisition of traffic enables the integration various participants. “The use of a common platform is the basis for making public transport services more flexible,” Nowotka explains. “The technical issues are closely linked to organizational challenges faced by cities and transport companies to support the implementation of innovations in practice.” In Nowotkas opinion, the use of modern machine-learning methods will be revolutionizing transport planning and will be a driver for the transport betterment.

Minister of Digitization Dirk Schrödter is convinced of the necessity of intelligent traffic flow. He said at the presentation of the funding-document: “In Schleswig-Holstein, we are focusing on digital transformation in the areas of transport and mobility. Further digitalization and the use of AI will serve as an opportunity for municipalities and transport operators to optimize their strategies. Intelligent traffic control systems can also make roads safer. Additionally, it will serve the public.”

However, technical achievements can never have a lasting effect if no-one implements them. Helping cities and companies connect to public systems is Dr. Carsten Schultz’s task. “Cities and companies will only have to ability to evolve if they can successfully use the innovative oportinities we will hand them. Thus, we will develop guidelines for innovation management in the city ecosystem,” explains the professor of technology management at Kiel University.

The project partners are certain: Availability of data from public transport carriers (e.g., buses or ferries) as well as from people will increase. This provides the opportunity to rethink existing mobility services and personalize them by using AI. This could reduce the costs of a public transport and generate benefit for users. However, databased services could trigger reservations and present public transport providers with major organizational challenges. In regards to establishing business cases and secure acceptance, the interdisciplinary orientation of the project is important. Therefore, r2p GmbH, a Flensburg-based provider of integrated hardware and software solutions for public transport, is participating in CAPTN Flex as an industrial partner.

A participation of partners based in Schleswig-Holstein and the transdisciplinary approach of the CAPTN project are meet with great approval by Schrödter. “It is important that scientific institutions, companies and start-ups in our state work together on AI projects. This will create value and jobs. CAPTN Flex is a very good example of this cooperation,” emphasizes the Minister of Digitalization.

For Flemming Kaer, CEO of r2p Holding GmbH, the collaboration with the CAPTN initiative is a logical step. “As a global company in the area of digitalization of public transport, we see CAPTN Flex right along the line with global trends and what other cities experience in regards to sustainable mobility,” he emphasizes. “Bases on our scientific findings, on international trends and research, we will be able to provide a better, attractive and modern transport system.”

The overall project budget is 592,000 euros; the funding will last for three years.