Who is part of geofencing? Actors: their roles and interactions in connected freight transport systems
Other conference contribution, 2021

Background and research questions
The transport system is undergoing a transformation where new technologies based on digitalization and connectivity contributes to new solutions aiming to mitigate negative effects from transports. Both vehicles and infrastructure are becoming more connected, enabling new services and opportunities for a more integrated and sustainable transport system (Leviäkangas, 2013; Böhm, 2019). New technologies in transport will affect governance structures, business models and rely on collaborative efforts between both private and public organizations (Leviäkangas & Öörni, 2020). This will affect the roles of existing and new actors within the transport network in various ways as it includes many different and uncertain elements, such as data sharing, policy development, innovation, new business models and that new actors are introduced to the network (Böhm, 2019). The context of the study underlying the paper focus on the emerging digital tool of geofencing as a part of Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) enabled by Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The study focusses on geofencing applications within a freight transport context. Geofencing enables traffic related applications by affecting vehicle or driver behavior when a vehicle enters or exits a geographical defined area and triggers some kind of action in the vehicle. Its main focus is to increase road transport safety and to reduce emissions by ensuring a certain vehicle behavior in certain areas, often where vehicles and vulnerable road users co-exist. There is little knowledge on which actors that are involved in a geofencing network, how they interact and what their potential roles are.

With this paper, we aim to investigate industrial networks within geofencing-applications for freight transport. This is done by answering two research questions (i) which are the key actors and stakeholders and what are their roles in a geofencing network? and (ii) which interactions are taking place between these actors? By answering these research questions, we will expand the knowledge about the organizing of geofencing and how its technological development is enabled thorough interaction between actors.

The research intends to fulfill this aim by conducting qualitative research, namely a case study. We have chosen to base our study in Sweden, as it is a country where the development of geofencing, as well as its implementation, has come quite far. 15 semi-structured interviews have been conducted with knowledgeable respondents from both public and private organizations who are either involved in various projects for geofencing development or in strategic positions for freight transport planning and development. The empirical data is from national agencies, service providers and the city of Gothenburg and city of Stockholm, where geofencing is under development and implementation is made in various forms. The analysis consists of thematic coding of transcripts in order to map different actors and their interactions in different settings by using theoretic concepts. To analyze the empirical data and better understand the disruptive changes in actor interactions and roles, this study has used the Industrial Network Approach (INA) as theoretic framework. The INA approach studies the relationships among actors from different perspectives and how the relationships and roles develop over time (Håkansson & Snehota, 1995). It is based on conceptual principles of interaction processes and value co-creation between connected firms, which in relation to ITS and geofencing can take new forms. By relying on INA and identify the interrelations, interdependencies and objectives of the different actors, it can contribute to an understanding the roles of the involved actors.

Results and analysis
This empirical study has outlined the network of actors involved in developing and deploying geofencing as a tool to increase sustainability in the freight transport system. It has contributed to a better understanding of the expected interactions and roles of different public and private actors when introducing innovative technologies for traffic management. In Gothenburg, geofencing is used in public transport but different projects are undergoing for introducing applications in urban freight settings. In Stockholm, geofencing is used in a pilot project to ensure silent off-peak deliveries of freight by forcing electric powertrain on a heavy-duty vehicle within certain geographic areas. Other projects that are ongoing, in pilot-form, involve geofencing for dynamic speed adaptation in congested areas and access control. Our study shows that there are multiple actors involved in the development and deployment of geofencing and dependent on application it relies upon both operational and regulative public-private interaction and collaboration. Furthermore, new actors also affect the network by introducing new resources such as data, data exchange platforms and tools in the development and deployment. The engagement of actors also differs in relation to when new applications being developed in collaborations and when the applications are being used. Public actors, consisting of public and national road authorities and agencies, mainly interact between different municipal divisions and with national agencies, mainly for measures regarding regulation and data sharing. Private actors, consisting of service providers such as vehicle manufacturers, service users such as transport operators and enablers such as map or IT service providers mainly interact in measures for data sharing and various service exchanges. Different private actors are involved in different settings of development and deployment.

Actors can take different roles depending on the stage of development. Interactions between actors also depend on expectations on their roles within different contexts. At the moment a lot of interaction and roles between public and private actors are being explored in various innovation-projects, however, there is no unity in the proposed interaction between public and private organizations for geofencing in the deployment phase. This mainly surrounds the aspect of data sharing between public and private actors and legal responsibilities to enable different dynamic geofencing-applications. There is also a common view that traditional actors, such as road operators, will need to take a more active role in traffic management when geofencing is more developed, especially for dynamic geofencing functions. What these roles will entail and how the actors will operate within these roles are however unclear and can be a subject of future research.


Böhm, M. (2019). Deployment of C-ITS: A Review of Global Initiatives. In M. Lu (Ed.), Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems - Towards High-Level Automated Driving (pp. 21-40). London: Institution of Engineering and Technology.
Håkansson, H., & Snehota, I. (1995). Developing Relationships in Business Network. London: Routledge.
Leviäkangas, P. (2013). Intelligent transport systems− technological economic system performance and market views. International Journal of Technology, 4(3), 288-298.
Leviäkangas, P., & Öörni, R. (2020). From business models to value networks and business ecosystems – What does it mean for the economics and governance of the transport system? Utilities Policy, 64, 101046. doi:10.1016/j.jup.2020.101046


Industrial network approach





Hannes Lindkvist

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Supply and Operations Management

Frida Lind

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Supply and Operations Management

Lisa Melander

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Supply and Operations Management

Swedish transportation research conference 2021
Malmö (digital), ,

Interactions and role development in the geofence network

Chalmers, 2020-04-01 -- 2025-04-30.

Areas of Advance

Information and Communication Technology


Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Innovation and entrepreneurship

Subject Categories

Public Administration Studies

Business Administration

Information Systemes, Social aspects

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