Sustainable mobility in Portugal: challenges to overcome

Mobility in Portugal, or in another country in the world, is one of the most important domains of cities and territories today.

With a growing concentration of population in urban centers, exponentially the pressure on the shoulders of mobility in cities exponentially increased in the number of challenges to overcome.

Around 2/3 of the greenhouse gases emissions are based on fossil fuel vehicles, which forces the population to have sustainable behaviors, and to look at mobility has a topic, where sustainability has to be part of the main rationale.

Decarbonization of mobility

The international community has promised to limit the temperature rise to a maximum of 2 ° C compared to the pre-industrial era. Together, governments, cities, regions, businesses, and citizens are committed to taking action and fulfilling programs to achieve this goal.

The replacement of vehicles with fossil fuels by electric vehicles is one of the fundamental pillars of sustainable mobility, but it is still not enough to solve the problem at hand.

One example of this is urban mobility in Lisbon: 370,000 vehicles enter Lisbon daily in the Portuguese capital. If all these vehicles were electric, we could decarbonize the city of Lisbon, but we would not yet solve the problem of mobility, in particular, the problem of traffic flow.


More planning, behavioral and monitoring measures are needed as the issue of sustainable mobility has several dimensions.

Definition of sustainable mobility

The concept of sustainable mobility is based on four pillars: technical, economic, social and environmental.

The greatest challenge in sustainable mobility is thus to create sustainable solutions from a technical, economic, social and environmental point of view. We must, therefore, pay attention to all the pillars of sustainable mobility.

The challenges of sustainable mobility in cities

Sustainable mobility solutions require the creation and use of specially developed tools and indicators, respecting the characteristics of each city.

We can only solve the problem of mobility, whether in Portugal or another developed country if we have information that characterizes the problem, and the private sector should be part of the solution since it is responsible for most public transport in our cities.

This sector can assist in the solution by contributing to the improvement of our cities by working closely with municipal authorities (in fact, local mobility authorities), in particular at the planning stage.

How can information technologies help in the challenges?

Information technologies can help in these challenges by supporting the construction of integrated multimodal solutions always with the goal in mind to change our personal vehicle by other means of transport (motorized or non-motorized). With multimodality, we need new and more efficient payment systems, namely Open Payment Systems, and sharing mobility data with National Access Points (GTFS, NeTEx, SIRI, DATEX II, are some necessary formats).

CCG is already in this new dimension of digital transformation, in the field of mobility, involved in several projects, through its applied research domain UMC. An example is the decarbonization project of the city of Braga, with the technical coordination and processes related to mobility, but also projects in the 5G area and information systems and ticketing.

Solution to the equation of sustainable mobility

The most complex problem to solve in mobility is to create a sustainable solution for its three main actors: city, operator, citizen. Each of them has different goals and needs

  • Cities want to reduce traffic flows and pollution, as well as improve the quality of life of their citizens.
  • Operators aim for more efficient transportation, cost savings, and increased customer satisfaction and customer numbers.
  • Citizens, on the other hand, require transport adjusted to their real needs, higher quality of service, and lower costs compared to their personal vehicle.

To solve this equation we need to create technological solutions where there is a perfect interception between the desires of these three actors. Only if everyone wins, mobility can be sustainable and the environment has a happy ending.

About the author:

João Peixoto | Project manager @CCG, D.I.A. UMC

João Peixoto has a degree in Informatics Engineering, a Master’s degree in Informatics and Systems, and as a student of PDTSI at the University of Minho, he submitted the thesis “From Observation to Trajectory: formalization of a spatiotemporal information structure”. He is a project manager at CCG: Centro de Computação Gráfica at D.I.A UMC and researcher at the Algoritmi Center at the University of Minho. His research interests center on human mobility, urban computing, mobile computing, and sensorised information.