IGCS Summer School on Sustainable Smart Cities: Focus on Urban Mobility

Srinivasan KG

– Digital event, October 05-16, 2020

Source: Srinivasan Kg
Source: Srinivasan Kg
Source: Srinivasan Kg

IGCS Summer School on “Sustainable Smart Cities: Focus on Urban Mobility” was hosted by RWTH Aachen University, Germany. Applying for the event, I was eagerly waiting to attend the school in-person in Germany. I was interested in learning more about the different aspects of urban mobility in smart cities as my PhD research topic on “hybrid vehicles for smart cities” is dealing with a similar issue. I had a few questions before attending the summer school:

  • What are the factors influencing the acceptance and implementation of smart and sustainable mobility?
  • What would be the role of smart and green transport in sustainable cities?
  • What would be the environmental impacts of mobility?
  • What would be the future of mobility?

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we received an e-mail from the host informing the change of school from in-person to a completely online mode and inquiring about my willingness to attend the school. I was eager to participate in the school anyway as the topic was interesting and relevant for my field of study. We then got an e-mail from the host institution well in advance regarding the start and details of the online summer school. Afterwards, I received a confirmation of participation and the schedule of the school.

It was my first experience of attending this kind of workshop online. After being selected to participate in IGCS’ first-ever digital Summer School, I attended online lectures, engaged in panel discussions and worked in a group project in an international environment. All the school activities were conducted in the online platform Zoom, and online Moodle was used to interact with the lecturers and participants from different countries.

In the end, we all had to present our findings from the group project. There were five groups, each containing six members. Each group were presenting on a topic on the last day of Summer School. Teams for the workgroup were well distributed; members of the group were from both Indian and from German institutes and from various field of expertise. Our group topic for the project was well constructed by the host team. I was afraid that my internet connection would not hold. Still, everything was fine on the day, and our group successfully completed our presentation. Our presentation was on the topic “Environmental Impacts on Mobility”, and we mainly focused on: 

  • Evolution and challenges of different modes of transportation
  • Share of transport on the total emissions of greenhouse gases
  • Environmental impacts due to dominant/conventional modes of transportation
  • Health impacts due to predominant/conventional modes of transportation
  • Environmental and Health impacts due to alternate/future means of transportation
  • Analyzing the convenience of the alternative means of transport in the contexts of developed and developing countries

After completing the school, I got many of my questions answered, and there are major inputs that I have taken away from the school for my research:

  • I have learnt more about the environmental aspects of mobility
  • Recent trends and advancements in the automobile industry (Ford) towards sustainable mobility
  • Working on our project group with friends from different disciplines increased my understanding of different aspects of engineering as well as environmental, geographical and sociological topics
  • With other projects, I have learned more about the public-private partnership in the mobility sector

The entire summer school was well organized, and fortunately, there were no problems with internet connectivity in my case. During the online summer school, I liked all the activities. In particular, I was mostly involved in our workgroups as it helped my research, and I got valuable inputs from my team members. The weekend activity task was very interesting, and it was a great opportunity to explore my personal mobility and priorities.

I networked with participants and professors in this online school too. I became friends with many of the participants, even though we only met online. Next to that, I got much help and guidance from our group mentor Dr Daniel Rosado related to environmental aspects on mobility.

I would recommend the following suggestions for the participants who are applying for the upcoming (online) Summer- and Winter Schools

  • Be excited to work with interdisciplinary workgroups
  • You will attend lectures from top universities in Germany, IIT Madras and leading global Industry professionals
  • Have a stable online connection and a web camera (for online schools)