Achieving a better future with system dynamics


Grote en complexe mobiliteitsvraagstukken

We can no longer plan mobility the way we used to. Major changes like meeting climate targets and fulfilling the housing challenge, affect our mobility policy. But planning for a different future involves great uncertainty. How do you realise a new vision of mobility in an ever-changing world? How do you reduce uncertainty in relation to decision-making? With our approach based on systems thinking, you as a policymaker get a grip on the development of your mobility policy.

From ‘predict and provide’ to ‘vision and validate’ 

Traditionally, mobility policy decisions are often made on the basis of forecasts that build on historical trends, aka 'predict and provide'. Developments such as the mobility transition, the housing challenge and the climate issue, on the contrary, require us to depart from trends. This requires a new vision of the future of mobility. Realising this will require both a different policy and behavioural change. We also need a set of instruments to continuously measure and adjust the newly initiated course. We call this 'vision and validate'.

Van predict & provide naar vision & validate

A new methodology for developing mobility policies

To come up with new insights and solutions, as well as ways to realise them, we need to adapt our current methodologies and use them in other ways. There is also a need for a new methodology that: 

  • puts mobility policy in a broader context. Mobility never stands alone but is an integral part of a bigger picture; 
  • clarifies how different factors within the mobility system interact and influence each other; 
  • clarifies which external factors influence the mobility system;  
  • shows changes over time of the various factors inside and outside the mobility system; 
  • provides more flexibility for interim evaluation and adjustment of mobility policy;
  • can be used exploratively to visualise the effects of new techniques or mobility services, for example, even if we do not yet know exactly what they will look like; 
  • can feed standard traffic models with alternative scenarios for the future.

System dynamics as method for handling uncertainty

System dynamics is a holistic approach that focuses on understanding the complexity of systems and how they change over time. One of the main benefits of systems thinking is that it helps us understand and predict the consequences of our actions.

Our approach

  1. Stakeholders collaboratively determine which elements are input for the system dynamic model


    • The various elements that make up mobility policy. These are effectively the various 'knobs' of the mobility system that you can turn to adjust the policy. 
    • The external factors that may affect the mobility policy and thus also influence the final goal.  
    • The factor 'time' to gain insight into how the various scenarios develop over time under the influence of both the mobility policy, behavioural change and external factors.
  2. Adding available data

    This mostly concerns socio-demographic data. With this, we quantify causal relationships, giving us insight into how cause and effect are related.

  3. Adjusting selected variables

    The chosen variables can be adjusted again and again, allowing soft explanations and changing assumptions to be tested. By running the model with variable inputs, we gain insight into the lower and upper limits of possibilities in the future, the degree of probability, and the factors that cause (un-)desired future developments. This creates a shared picture of the effectiveness of policy measures and their dependence on both internal and external factors.

  4. Selecting future scenarios

    From all the outcomes we generate, we choose the most relevant future scenarios to consider in our planning. We retrace what inputs were used and what happened over time to arrive at this scenario. This provides you as a policymaker with valuable information and the necessary guidance to develop appropriate policies to realise your vision for the future.

"We offer action perspectives by capturing uncertainty at the system level as we plan for transitions in a fast-moving world."

Hannah van Amelsfort (senior advisor at Goudappel)

Oproep tot co-creatie

Samen met ons nadenken over hoe mobiliteit er in de toekomst uit moet zien en hoe we dat toekomstbeeld kunnen realiseren? Door middel van co-creatie onderzoeken we graag samen met u de toepassing en doorontwikkeling van systeemdenken.

Lees hier meer over de mogelijkheden

Why us?

  • Our system dynamics methodology is not a black box but highly transparent. We show what data, knowledge and intelligence we add to achieve the intended effect.   
  • Our system dynamics methodology is based on a wide variety of (scientific) sources: 
  • Public data sources such as data from CBS, PBL, ODIN, World Bank, etc. that provide insight into factors such as population growth, migration, inflation, general welfare, etc.   
  • Data sources developed by Goudappel itself such as OmniTRANS Spectrum, the NVP, or data derived from our traffic models.   
  • Scientific models such as gravity model, transport mode choice model, four-step model, etc.  
  • Literature studies related to other system dynamic models such as Sterman's basic mobility model (2000).   
  • The expertise and decades of experience of our consultants who can understand the field of mobility in its breadth.  
  • Where uncertainty exists because there is still too little empirical data available, we organise workshops and try to specify links to bring expert knowledge to the surface.   
  • Goudappel has both the data to feed the system thinking methodology and the knowledge and experience to interpret the outcomes and link concrete action perspectives to them.

Find out more?

We are happy to tell you more about system dynamics.

Get in touch with Martijn