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Behavioral Economics

United States

Digital Twin
Behavioral Economics
  • 2021

    Project Year

  • $


  • 30


  • 200

Understand applicability of behavioral science to improve the quality and appeal of the tolled highways, that traditionally suffer from negative biases that reduce their usage.

From an initial assessment in previous years, several initiatives were derived and developed during 2021 among which were goodwill generated by trip-end messages on digital panels, and the creation of a Virtual Twin scenario of our Highway North Tarrant Express in Dallas to test how different configurations of the Express Lanes might impact driver’s perceived friction – with no disruption at all in real traffic.

Strategies, interventions and recommendations

In March 2020, Cintra published internally the results of the research project “Strategies, interventions and recommendations for Cintra inspired in behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience”. The document presented a list of recommendations that have the potential of improving several dimensions of Cintra’s business – by identifying a series of principles of human behavior such as loss and risk aversion, overconfidence, herding, heuristic of availability, default options, etc. which govern how we make decisions.

The team investigated how policies and strategies based on these principles may help reduce friction in different aspects of Cintra’s business (traditionally affected by negative biases). For example,  poor design or confusion on how to pay or be charged are sources of friction.

We are now at the second phase of this project – when we will work out some of the proposals thoroughly and fine-tuned experimentally. In effect, the recommendations presented in the original document were intrinsically experimental, so experimentation is a must.  But, how to experiment in a highway with minimum affection to travelling traffic? Two ways: by acting on the tools we have available (digital panels on the road) and by creating digital environments where to test things  Here is where the Digital Twin/Virtual reality  concept comes to help.

On the first instance, different messages were tested on DMSs (Dynamic message signs) in our concessions with encouraging results in terms of goodwill by the driving population that were exposed to those messages.

For other tests, in terms of variables that might affect drivers’ behavior, there is limited insights we can get from the comparison of somewhat similar assets. Thus, the best way of obtaining additional data to complete the study is to create a Virtual Reality scenario (Digital Twin) of one of our assets, plus a driving simulator – to be used by a number of drivers to virtually test the effect of different configurations of the road elements on decision making. 

Value of the Solution

Analyze subjective design options and how they impact the comfort, safety and appeal of the highway products we build.

Initial results from Behavioral science experiments are encouraging and the Virtual reality tool will allow further experimentation in all those areas.

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