Special Issue "Reconciling High Tech and Low Tech for Sustainable Urban Mobility"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Flore Vallet
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
IRT SystemX - Paris-Saclay, Palaiseau, France and Université Paris-Saclay, CentraleSupélec, Laboratoire Genie Industriel, Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Interests: eco-design; eco-innovation; urban mobility; user-centred design
Dr. Henriette Cornet
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
International Association of Public Transport, Brussels, Belgium
Interests: urban mobility; public transport; socio-environmental impact assessment; inclusive mobility

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The last several decades have been marked by the spread of high-tech solutions in our daily lives. In the field of mobility, technologies have been constantly under development for products (e.g., electronic features in cars) and for services (e.g., the use of massive data in smartphone mobility apps). Technology in mobility promises more comfort, but also more accessibility, more efficiency and more safety—as an example, autonomous vehicles are expected to reduce road fatalities to near zero. However, these technologies, and more specifically the digital part of mobility, may also have negative environmental and social impacts throughout their lifecycle, and add more complexity to our lives.

As a counterpart, low-tech approaches propose sobriety of consumption and production (of resources, energy, data, etc.) thanks to easy-to-use technologies with potentially lower environmental and social impacts. Moreover, low-tech approaches emphasize a systemic and human-centered perspective, where knowledge, community practices and human work are leading concepts. Yet, if low tech is emphasized, what could be the consequences on safety and security, on travel times? Can we elaborate on the idea of frugal mobility inspired by frugal innovation?

Finally, this Special Issue calls for a reflection on what can be defined as low- or high-tech mobility usages and solutions. In that spirit, could we imagine low-tech automated vehicles or shuttles, a frugal perspective on Mobility as a Service? Is an electric scooter high or low tech? Do we need to support urban walking and active modes by technology, and to what extent? How can we account for the direct and indirect impacts of both trends (high- and low-tech mobility) for citizens, local authorities and mobility providers?

In this Special Issue, the goal is to surpass the dichotomy and investigate whether the two concepts of high tech and low tech can be reconciled to lead to sustainable urban mobility, which is at the same time targeting resilience and liveability of cities.

  • Resilience refers to the capacity of a city to recover in times of crisis (e.g., the sanitary COVID-19 crisis, cyberattacks), or natural crises (e.g., floods, heat waves), or related to environmental challenges (e.g., pollution, GHG emissions);
  • Liveability refers to the quality of life in cities for all, with aspects of inclusiveness and equity as well as joy and aesthetics.

The Special Issue calls for contributions that demonstrate or discuss how sustainability, resilience and liveability can be used as indicators to measure the effects of technology on urban mobility.

There is no restriction on the mobility modes that are under study, and a wide range of user groups is expected—for instance workers and those who do not work, the young and the aged, pedestrians and motorized citizens, those who live and those who transit in the city, those who move or do not move, out of choice or constraint. Taking user groups into account may foster the discussion on equity and inclusive access, shedding light on who will potentially win or lose with the implementation of a (more or less) technologically assisted mobility.

The editors of this Special Issue invite interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary, theoretically and empirically driven contributions. The papers will possibly focus on a specific user group, type of innovation or specific crisis, dealing with the following topics (not an exhaustive list):

  • Service and product human-centred design concepts;
  • Case studies investigating the effects of technological deployment on mobility;
  • Comparative studies on the effects of technology on mobility in different countries/cultures;
  • Future scenario analysis;
  • Socio-environmental impact analysis;
  • Life cycle assessment;
  • Sustainable business model innovation, sustainable value creation;
  • Value-sensitive design;
  • Automation and mobility infrastructures.

We are calling for contributions from social science, industrial and technical developments, design and mobilities research.

Dr. Flore Vallet
Dr. Henriette Cornet
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • urban mobility
  • low-tech movement
  • human–technology relations
  • impact assessment
  • liveable cities
  • user-centred studies
  • digital technologies

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Casual Carpooling: A Strategy to Support Implementation of Mobility-as-a-Service in a Developing Country
Sustainability 2021, 13(5), 2774; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13052774 - 04 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 498
Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) offers tailored-made, on-demand mobility solutions to users by integrating on a single service subscription, public and private transport modes. However, the concept is still uncertain, and its current development and applicability is centered on developed countries. On the other hand, we [...] Read more.
Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) offers tailored-made, on-demand mobility solutions to users by integrating on a single service subscription, public and private transport modes. However, the concept is still uncertain, and its current development and applicability is centered on developed countries. On the other hand, we advocate that MaaS is modular, adaptable, and applicable to several realities. In developing countries where public transport is mostly inefficient and insufficient, MaaS could help to “balance the scale” with private transport offerings, such as ridesharing. Casual carpooling could be an affordable alternative. Not only for being a low-tech transport mode but also for optimizing vehicle usage of idle seats. In that optics, we have identified drivers who would facilitate integrating casual practices into a MaaS. To identify the motivating factors behind casual carpooling and propose a strategy to implement it in a MaaS scheme, a quantitative survey was applied to 307 university students in the city Lavras, Brazil. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistical techniques. We assumed that casual carpooling is sustained by solidarity, simplicity, and agility; no costs to passengers; and institutionalized pickup points. Then, we identify principal strategic components to implement such an initiative. We concluded that casual carpooling as a low-tech transport mode could enhance local strategy for implementing an eco-innovative MaaS in places with inefficient public transport offerings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reconciling High Tech and Low Tech for Sustainable Urban Mobility)
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