The Virtual Mobility Knowledge Base

The impacts of ICT on travel behaviour and freight distribution patterns














"Virtual Mobility" refers to the use of the new Information and Communications technologies (ICT) as an alternative to physical mobility.  That is, it is about using ICT as the means of "getting to" activities that would previously have required transport - or would have been impossible to do.

This website shows the results of a project commissioned by the UK Department of Transport.  The Department's aim was to build up its knowledge and understanding of research in this area.

The key applications that are making an impact on our travel behaviour and the way we transport things are:

  • e-work (telework, telecommuting - all the forms of remote work using ICT
  • e-business & e-commerce (business to business and business to consumer online transactions and service/product delivery)
  • e-services (e-government services, e-learning, telemedicine, etc)

All of these in principle imply that physical travel is to some degree replaced by online activities using the new ICT.  But the impacts are not as straightforward as that.  The impacts that researchers and policy-makers are looking at are, broadly speaking how virtual mobility:

  • replaces travel
  • works alongside physical travel
  • generates new journeys
  • redistributes travel and goods transport - in terms of time, location and who does it/what is transported.

At the heart of the project and this website is an extensive database, the results of a critical literature review.  You can search this database online, as well as read the reports and summary conclusions.

One of the key aims of the review was to place an emphasis on studies that had measured results, as opposed to speculation - so that we can make an assessment of what we actually know and what we don't.