The main objectives of this observatory are:
- to enhance cooperation among the different transport infrastructure initiatives in Europe and Asia;
- to create economies of scale and maximize efficiency by helping governments and organizations to achieve more by spending less;
- to provide concrete and tangible inputs to governments by hosting data and findings of different topical studies;
- to facilitate communication among the focal points of the initiatives in order to exchange basic information (meeting dates, agendas, reports, workshop programmes, etc.);
- to disseminate ad hoc knowledge, and best or good practices including information about vendors, consultants, etc.;
- to exchange information about projects and other initiatives/proposals;
- to seek cooperation on specific transport infrastructure projects/tasks/studies and researches decided during their secretariat sessions.
However, since the observatory will be developed on a sophisticated Geographical Information System (GIS) platform the services that will be provided to users and especially to governments and the international financial institutions are beyond those mentioned above. It would permit all users to find and analyse:
- data about all transport networks and nodes (road, rail, inland waterways, ports, airports, intermodal terminals, logistics centres and border crossing points). This data will include any kind of information from technical specifications such as number of lanes, electrified lines, etc. to operational details such as opening hours, number of lanes for TIR trucks, etc.
- data on transport corridors (length, services, missing links, time schedules, tariffs). This data will include information about block trains for instance that operate on specific corridors, number of border crossings and waiting times, real time monitoring of services (time schedules, stops, etc.), and intermodal tariffs calculations (door to door delivery). In a later stage, and in cooperation with the railway undertaking, the block trains can be equipped with GPS providing to their users, through the observatory, an online real-time track and trace of train trips, and therefore of their cargo;
- data about new transport infrastructure projects. Government focal points will have the possibility if they wish to provide information on new transport infrastructure projects either with secured or not secured funding to be evaluated for funding by the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and other donors. The real value for the governments and especially the IFIs while evaluating these new projects will be that they would have the opportunity to see and analyse the projects in a broader geographical and socioeconomic context by adding or reducing GIS layers. For instance, there is critical information that a bank should know before deciding to finance a new project. For example this information for a new project that is part of a transport corridor includes the number of border crossing points and their waiting times until cargo will reach the first port, as well as the existing and forecasted trade flows along the corridor.
- data about traffic and cargo / goods flows; the traffic and goods flows indicate the level of criticality of an artery compared to the whole network. It is the parameter that could characterize a new transport infrastructure project as viable and sustainable or not;
- data about international conventions / agreements ratification and implementation: at a glance, and by adding a GIS layer, users could see which countries have signed and ratified which international conventions and agreements and the level of their implementation. This information is critical indicator for the conditions of transport and trade facilitation that exist in a region and therefore for the viability and sustainability of a future transport infrastructure project;
- results of different regional studies such as:
- Benchmarking transport infrastructure construction costs: A group of experts already exists with this mandate. If the findings of this group are incorporated in the observatory, then governments and banks will know by adding a GIS layer how much other governments in the region pay to construct a similar, for instance, bridge, road, etc. and is valuable input to prepare ‘bankable’ project proposals and to evaluate the actual cost of a new project;
- Climate Change impacts and adaptation for transport networks and nodes: A group of experts already exists with this mandate. If the findings of this group are incorporated in the observatory, then governments and banks will have by adding a GIS layer a full climate change impacts hot spots map for the region. The hot spots map would be the result of matching together the forecasts provided by IPCC on different climatic factors (precipitation, temperature, etc.) with the critical transport infrastructure. For instance, if based on this hot spots map the suggested construction area risks to be flooded, then either the governments/banks should suggest additional technical measures to adapt to this climate change impacts or maybe they could reconsider building in the area;
- Good practices and innovative solutions in financing transport infrastructure: the observatory will work as an ‘electronic library’ that will incorporate all good and best practices, tools and methodologies to finance transport infrastructure.