24 February 2010

Dimitris Papanikolaou ~ Mobility Dynamics @ MIT

Excellent to interview Dimitris Papanikolaou on MaximizingProgress.tv tonight! A researcher in the MIT Media Lab's Smart Cities group, Dimitris specializes in understanding the role of incentives and pricing and policies on managing fleets of shareable vehicles. This is part of a larger effort to build Mobility-on-Demand systems. Systems like Zipcar, born here in Cambridge, and Velib, the Parisian bike-share, are both example urban ventures which are changing how people need cars and other vehicles in the city. Many of my friends, for instance, have no interest in owning a car. Instead they rent, on-demand, when they need one! But understanding such systems well enough to make sure they operate effectively is not easy. Bikes in the Velib system, for example, tend to accumulate at popular destinations which today means employees have to re-distribute them, a major expense. So Dimitris uses MIT's System Dynamics computer modeling and simulation method to see how incentives and discounts and pricing can motivate users to keep the overall system in balance. Very cool!

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