Expert article
Modifier 29 December 2020
by JOSEP MARIA Salanova Grau, UIA Expert

The digitalization of mobility in Lisbon

People, Processes & Technology towards the digital transformation of the urban mobility system of Lisbon (VoxPop) is the new project that will foster the digital transition and collaboration between private and public mobility actors in the Portuguese capital. As the title says, it is not only about technology, but about putting people and processes in the centre of the picture.

VoxPop is funded by the Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) initiative under the Digital transition theme.

The project started in September 2019 aiming at improving the mobility experience of the citizens, commuters and visitors of the city of Lisbon while improving, planning and reducing the operation costs of the mobility service providers by speeding the digital transition in the city. In order to do achieve its scope, the project tackles the most relevant challenges of the urban mobility services:

  • The gap between data owners, intermediaries  and data consumers creating an underuse of data in an low-quality data overflowed system
  • The misunderstanding of user needs and lack of relevant use cases as well as communication channels to establish a dialogue with them
  • The puzzled mobility systems that create non-exploited data silos
  • The lack of citizen-centric use of public space
  • The low engagement in open data policy and data sharing of the private sector
  • The lack of data science skills in the public sector

The above issues are, among others, due to a misalignment between the mobility actors in terms of data sharing, co-creation and governance. VoxPop is developing a multi-stakeholder data-sharing model to unlock actionable knowledge from it and to drive user-centric systemic mobility solutions in Lisbon to overcome the above challenges.

“In the CARRIS perspective, both as a mobility actor and a VoxPop partner, the project is enabling to speed-up the digital transition, by providing the motivation and the tools to get an in-depth knowledge of the existing data. In addition to the high potential in creating new applications that can arise from working with other partners and sharing data with various entities, the VoxPop project puts in the agenda the need to know the data, to analyze it and, most importantly, to get value from it. This may be a great catalyst to drive new data analytics processes and perspectives that most probably will prevail in the partners data culture.

An important aspect of VoxPop is that it does so whilst putting users at the core of the activities, by enabling new mechanisms for user interaction with public transport systems and entities and through their strong participation in all data applications development activities. As a conclusion, one of the greatest benefits of the VoxPop project is the fact that it acts as a driving force behind data analytics and digital transition.”


What VoxPop is doing?

  • Innovators Alliance as a discussion and collaboration forum for all relevant stakeholders interested in sharing data
  • Urban Access Point to facilitate data exchanges and create trustworthiness
  • Digital Mobility Identity to improve the information collection and control by the citizens
  • Through data analytics and engaging with the city users, identify opportunities, developing value propositions and business models to inform public & private companies on how to improve the current portfolio of mobility services or trigger new service design
  • Increase the chances of developing digital solutions that effectively answer the needs of particularly underserved users
  • Client observer app to collect feedback from PuT users
  • Urban Mobility Observatory

How is doing it?

  • A trustable ecosystem of public and private sector entities is created to stimulate data sharing in a logic of reciprocity through a Multi-party governance model
  • Active involvement of citizens, i.e. of those who will benefit from the solutions, enabling the creation of enhanced user-centred mobility services
  • Open call. Open call to generate value from data within specific case studies that effectively answer the needs of particularly underserved users
  • Set up a critical expert panel

Who is doing it?

The project is composed by the local authority (Municipality of Lisbon - CML) and its operating arm for mobility (EMEL); the public transport providers (CARRIS and ML) including bus, tram and metro; and OTLIS as arepresentative of all metropolitan public transport providers. . Three companies from the private sector complete the team, including ARMIS (responsible for the Portuguese National Access Point), Deloitte Portugal (innovation approach to regulation issues) and Beta-i (open innovation experts). Still the structure is designed for accommodating as many stakeholders as possible by different means, including procurements, an open call, NGOs cohort, the Innovation Alliance and co-creation events.

Executing the Lisbon Mobility agenda


Lisbon was the first Portuguese city to win the EC Green Capital and the European Mobility Week awards back in 2018, showing how sustainability and economic growth can go hand to hand and a strong and committed willingness to change. The city is working in new park and ride services, new bus corridors and to increase the number of electric vehicles in the public transport system. In 2019 the City Council signed the Corporate Mobility pact with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and leading companies in the region committing themselves over 200 sustainable mobility actions.

Digitalization is a crucial part of such a strong sustainable mobility momentum in Lisbon, therefore the city had planned the creation of  a data-sharing model, an Urban Access Point, and a mobility observatory, which will be executed through the implementation of the VoxPop project. In addition, dozens of mobility services have flourished in the city and are being integrated by VoxPop. Furthermore, the city (EMEL) manages on-street parking and car parks in the city as well as the bike-sharing service. And one of the first implementations within VoxPop, as requested by the citizens, was the provision of parking services for bicycles.

Political commitment as a driver of innovation

As of today, the project received important political support: the Prime Minister endorsed it already at the proposal stage while the Municipality has involved its Strategic Board to follow the project. This support and engagement by the public sector allows for a high transparency in the project implementation while it enforces the trust environment needed to rise the interest of the private sector in the initiative of the Municipality of Lisbon.


Lisbon considers its digital transformation journey entails a transformation process much larger than technology alone, one highly reliant on people and processes. VoxPop will play a particularly important role in our journey as it will look into non-technological challenges to ensure a sound and resilient ecosystem governance, and ways of defining and adopting new business models. Likewise, we believe promoting user-centricity to be a fundamental piece of the puzzle, one to ensure both citizens and companies have a voice.

Miguel Gaspar, Deputy Mayor for Mobility, Safety, Economy and Innovation

Putting the foundations for digitalizing Lisbon’s mobility

During the first year of the project, the momentum with the strategic board and the governance bodies was kept: the partners were mobilized in engaging the skilled personnel to the project activities; the Project Board and governance model dealing with its implementation and operation were settled; intellectual property rights issues and rules were defined. As a result, the project already identified the need for providing parking services to cyclists and put the basis for launching the Innovation Alliance and the mobility observatory.

Starting at the end of 2019, the project execution has been slowed down by the COVID19 crisis, which started after the first half year of the project. However, the crisis highlighted the need for cities being more resilient to such events and the fragility of various mobility solutions. At the private sector level, before the crisis the city had various car-sharing providers, but with the new disinfection measures most of them couldn’t operate anymore. At the public sector side, the lack of tools to rapidly assess how to react to the pandemic situation made more difficult to apply dedicated measures with less economic and social consequences.


Digitalization will facilitate the reaction and readiness of cities to such situations by providing them with visibility and tools for a better governance of the mobility eco-system of the city while facilitating business models to flourish.