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Sustainable mobility and the pandemic: assessing the potential for a “smart working/smart mobility” scenario in large cities

Panel: 6. Transport and mobility

This is a peer-reviewed paper.

Francesca Bazzocchi, RSE S.p.A., Italy
Marco Borgarello, Ricerca sul Sistema Energetico - RSE S.p.A., Italy
Federica Savini, Ricerca sul Sistema Energetico - RSE S.p.A., Italy
Roberto Vanzan, Ricerca sul Sistema Energetico - RSE S.p.A., Italy
Anna Realini, Ricerca sul Sistema Energetico - RSE S.p.A., Italy


During March and April 2020, the lockdown – one of the measures adopted by many governments to contain the COVID-19 virus - caused a significant decrease in the movement of people, especially in urban centers. This had consequences on traffic, public transport and air quality. In this situation, “smart working” has become a central issue, identified as a solution to guarantee the continuation of work during offices’ closures.

In Italy, the lockdown experience of March 2020 has created the conditions for a "stress test" analysis, useful for evaluating and measuring the "potential" impact that this measure could have in terms of reducing urban traffic, with direct effects on fuel consumption and the environment.

RSE has promoted a study to analyze mobility demand during lockdown compared to the situation immediately preceding it, focusing attention on the role and impact of smart working.

A case study focused on the area of Milan was analyzed. This city was chosen for its socio-economic representativeness and because of the experience previously acquired in this area, having already carried out research in the past on sustainable urban mobility. The data used come from the geographic information sent by mobile devices of a representative sample of users, collected anonymously and with prior authorization by an app provider. It has been used, in an aggregated form, to identify and compare the recorded travel types (systematic or occasional), the main routes and the peak times, before and during the lockdown.

This paper aims to present the results of this analysis and discuss how smart working might impact future mobility scenarios.

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Download this paper as pdf: 6-018-21_Bazzocchi.pdf

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