A European consortium coordinated by the Eurecat technology centre has developed tools, protocols and guides to support inclusion and gender equality in the transport and mobility industry by assessing the needs of its users and staff from a gender perspective and tapping big data and machine learning.

The Diamond project is designed to gather and examine qualitative and quantitative data drawn from a trans-European gender- and diversity-sensitive data collection campaign to learn which factors most shape women’s satisfaction with transport systems including metro, rail and bike-sharing services.

The data captured “have been processed using big data and new mathematical models to identify the most relevant factors based on the individual features and needs of various women’s profiles,” says Lali Soler, director of the Big Data & Data Science Unit at Eurecat. “This information will be harnessed to roll out actions and measures to enhance existing transport systems.”

The data compiled from women service users “have been backed up by analysis of messages posted on social media about user satisfaction with a range of services at various times of day and by occupation,” she adds.

Specifically, the analysis reveals that the main factors in the choice of a transport service by women users are station safety, good emergency management, preventing overcrowding and protecting passengers and employees along with service availability and efficiency and universal design of infrastructures which are accessible to all.

The data gathered from users have been cross-checked with observational data about the territorial, socio-demographic and mobility features of the urban area and transport infrastructures. This has made it possible to correlate the level of user satisfaction with the features of the infrastructures and the environment.

The data analysis performed during the project has shed light on women’s needs, barriers and opportunities in public transport, bike-sharing services and as users of autonomous vehicles and also as employees in the transport industry.

The project’s main outputs include a White Paper addressing the requirements and actions which are essential to increase gender equality in European transport systems from the perspective of women as both users and industry staff together with the ‘Autonomous Vehicles with a Gender Perspective’ guide setting out recommendations for moving towards more inclusive autonomous cars.

In terms of jobs, women’s needs and challenges in entering the industry as employees have been assessed and curriculum guides and Corporate Social Responsibility protocols have been drawn up to increase the percentage of women working in the sector.

The project has additionally built a practical tool for transport operators and transport planners in government and transport industry employers for self-assessment of how inclusive a given transport service and organisation is from a gender perspective and how to attain an equitable model in transport systems for a specific profile.

This tool “shows that diverse data can be aggregated and innovative and comprehensive models can be devised to generate self-diagnosis and recommendations for a fairer and more inclusive transport system,” points out Patricia Castillo, the project’s coordinator and head of European projects at Eurecat.

The Diamond project was launched in late 2018 and has been funded by the European Commission in the Horizon 2020 programme under the ‘Demographic Change and Participation of Women in Transport’ call. This is designed to ramp up the presence of women in the transport industry by assessing women’s needs and building tools and new technologies to measure their uptake of different modes of transport as users and employees.

The project is part of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme and involves 14 partners from Spain, the United Kingdom, Italy, Serbia, Poland, France and Ireland. They are research centres (Eurecat and IBV-Biomechanics Institute of Valencia), universities (University of Stirling, Edinburgh Napier University, Technological University Dublin and the Faculty of Transport and Traffic Engineering at the University of Belgrade), transport operators (Catalan Government Railways, the Public Transport Authority of Warsaw and Autolib’ Vélib’), associations (Genre & Ville and WAVE) and businesses and consultancies (AITEC, Systematica and RINA).