Personalized Infrastructure: Leveraging Behavioral Strategies for Future Mobility

Research output: NRELPresentation


For decades, the transportation system has been built to position the personal automobile at the pinnacle of mobility options. This prominence is strongly reflected in individual and population behaviors, and supported by coevolved transportation policy, social norms, funding, and physical structures. Such has been the status quo for the living memory of the U.S. population. However, with the advent of emergent, technologically driven mobility options, the transportation system is in an era of rapid and disruptive change. No longer is transportation infrastructure an externality predominantly composed of physical elements; it is also now a personalized interface carried in the pockets of the majority of the population. Perceptions of personal mobility are evolving, in large part because of the proliferation of smartphone technology and the related Internet of Things (IoT), which will become increasingly essential within future transportation systems. With the emergence of personalized mobility infrastructure, many intervention approaches to influence transportation behavior do not adequately acknowledge the complexity of the social/digital environment within which transportation decisions are made. Transportation decisions are influenced by multiple facets, including costs and benefits in time and money, but also by sociocultural elements shaped by social norms and diffusion of ideas. Understanding of factors that lead to transportation behaviors can help to identify incentives and leverage points whereby alternative choices may be most accepted by individuals, and which, if well coordinated, may lead to improved transportation energy outcomes. How can change be initiated to shift away from the transportation status quo? Is it possible to use technologically delivered incentives to produce meaningful changes in transportation behavior? What types of incentives and at what perceived value is necessary to induce changes in behavior? As transportation agencies look toward an ever more complex mobility landscape, and with a quickly growing population, we look for answers to these questions as the core of developing strategies for the future of transportation. Using available data from emergent modes, and experiments conducted as part of an Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) Traveler Response Architecture using Novel Signaling for Network Efficiency in Transportation (TRANSNET) project, we look at how the sharing economy and transportation mobility services have begun to radically alter transportation behavior, while operating in parallel with traditional transportation infrastructure. Emerging modes and practices are affecting car dependence and enabling multimodality. We weigh influences on travel behaviors, identify decision breakpoints where inelastic behavior becomes elastic, incentives, and societal leverage points.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2017

Publication series

NamePresented at Behavior, Energy and Climate Change Conference 2017, 15-18 October 2017, Sacramento, California

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5400-70309


  • emerging transportation trends
  • Internet of Things
  • IoT
  • mobility app
  • smart mobility
  • smart phone
  • transportation policy
  • transportation systems


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