U-SMILE (Urban Smart Measures and Incentives for quality of Life Enhancement)

U-SMILE Urban Smart Measures


Urban Smart Measures and Incentives for quality of Life Enhancement (U-SMILE)

U-SMILE is a SURF (Smart Urban Regions of the Future) project, which is part of VerDuS (Verbinden van Duurzame Steden – Connecting Sustainable Cities).

Within this knowledge initiative, scientific researchers work together with professionals to develop knowledge that helps address issues relating, for example, to urbanization, the environment, mobility and transport.


Accessibility and sustainability are important conditions for vital and resilient cities, but are under pressure especially in urban areas.

Congestion, local air quality, parking; these are different challenges that, however, have in common that effective solutions require behavioral change in addition to technological innovation.


This project aims to develop, test and evaluate “smart” measures to affect behavior.

  • The measures are smart in the first place because they offer an innovative mix of negative and positive financial incentives, thus bypassing some of the main disadvantages of pricing (notably a very limited acceptability) and of rewarding (in particular limited budgets and induced demand).
  • The measures are also smart because they have a highly innovative technological character, not only from the conceptual viewpoint (e.g. tradable driving permits) but also from the technological perspective (e.g. linking real time automated vehicle identification to virtual market environments).

Multidisciplinary perspective

These smart measures will be studied from a multidisciplinary perspective, where forces are joined among economists, psychologists, traffic engineers and policy analysts, and will be evaluated from the perspectives of effectiveness, acceptability, and efficiency – paying attention to key urban challenges such as accessibility and environmental quality.

City pilots

The project has a very strong rooting in the urban reality as the case studies are undertaken jointly with Amsterdam Zuidas, Rotterdam, Groningen, and the Amsterdam ArenA area.

  1. In the psychological sub-project, we will study to what extent smart incentives can promote durable changes in a wide range of sustainable travel behaviors
  2. We will examine the conditions under which smart incentives are likely to promote sustainable travel behavior, and the processes that drive behavior changes
  3. We will study to what extent and how individual characteristics influence the effectiveness and acceptability of smart incentives.

Involved researcher(s)


  • Amsterdam Zuidas
  • University of Groningen
  • Verkeersonderneming (Rotterdam)




The project is funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).

VerDuS is an initiative of NWO

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