The problem: Commuters fear getting exposed to COVID-19 if they travel by public transport. Some do not have alternative options
Public Transport trends during COVID 19
If public transport is not considered safe we will see an increase in private mobility which is not environmentally or socially sustainable
Solution: A collaborative online knowledge-sharing platform for Public Transport operators and industry experts
Collaborative solutions to foster open innovation and reduce development & implementation times for best practice safety measures
Did you see the pictures of empty metro stations and scarcely populated trams? Have you seen the anxiety of people who need to use public transport and fear to enter? Have you also seen that public transport use has drastically decreased to 10% occupancy during COVID-19 lockdowns? Did you know that in Shanzen, China, after four weeks of lifting restrictions public transport use was only back to 25% of its previous use? This is exactly what inspired us to create Safe Mobility Solutions - A collaborative effort for best practice solutions. We believe it is important to create TRUST for the use of public transport -- and trust is not only created by guidelines from experts and authorities but also by the community of providers and citizens themselves. By sharing, co-creating, engaging and increasing engagement; operators will have the ability to assess other ideas by the collective wisdom of users, NGOs, other operators around the EU.
Social and political cohesion -- To develop an interactive platform to enable decision makers in the mobility industry to gain easy & up-to-date access to information and data on COVID-19 response; -- A secure and convenient system for sharing trustworthy information on health data between citizens and authorities which support the better management of COVID19 crisis.
Stations are empty as are buses and trains. There is a global debate about the safety of public transport at the moment. Not all have access to private transportation and a part of the population is still required to work e.g healthcare workers. There is a significant lack of TRUST in this industry at the moment & commuters need guidance and a feeling of security. We wanted to create a solution that optimises public transport capacity & enables people to feel safe to travel now and in the future.
Safe Mobility Solutions A collaborative effort for best practice solutions We have created a*not-for-profit KNOWLEDGE BASE website* for Public Transport providers and mobility industry professionals in order to share best practices in coping with COVID-19. Safe Mobility Solutions is (a) a searchable knowledge database of best practice solutions across Europe; (b) collects ideas from users and other stakeholders; (c) allows the different solutions and operators to be rated by stakeholders ; (d) let’s operators share and use each other’s ideas.
The platform offers USERS the ability to compare & rate applied or in development solutions, as well as the ability to add their own. The main aim is to share among PROVIDERS (big-to-small and small-to-big), key learnings to make public transport better TOGETHER FOR ALL. It is a NOT-FOR-PROFIT endeavor intended to help operators and mobility experts make public transport safe again! Being & feeling safe is a critical step required to get public transport operating efficiently and effectively again. Our solution complements guidelines offered by governments and policy makers. Should a second phase of the pandemic emerge, PT operators may implement solutions for safety much faster and expediently. We used ‘balsamiq’ to create a mock-up.
Our Value Proposition
A free-to-use collaborative platform for ensuring best health practices on public transport across Europe.
Share: Public Transport (PT) providers offer their solutions in a common database, fill in in a form complete with pictures and status (in-use, tested, planned, conceptualized). Search: PT providers may look at other solutions, assess what will work according to their needs and share their experiences. Engage: PT providers may invite their users, via their own app to ask for user feedback, rating or comment, collect ideas and suggestions to create or improve services in tackling COVID measures and create trust. Find: PT providers may find new solutions or refine their solutions based on the shared information in the knowledge base. They may learn from each other, find out what works better based on user feedback. Apply: PT providers can significantly reduce their implementation times & cost by understanding how measures have worked in other cities.
At scale, this application increases the potential for efficient implementations of best practice measures that make it safe for people to travel on public transit during & post COVID-19. By opening up access to key stakeholders to provide input, ideas and feedback, we are createing a strong sense of community and increased trust in PT providers.
Our Social impact
Safe Mobility Solutions addresses Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 10 and 11. Effective and good public transport are key to reducing inequality by increasing what is called transport justice (Goal 10). Also safe public transport is key to sustainable cities and well working and healthy communities (Goal 11). Our efforts will assist those who still need to go to work to save lives do so without risking their own and enable thoses without private transportation the ability to get access to where they want and need to go - a basic human right.
Safe Mobility Solutions is a not-for-profit service. It is to be run by an umbrella organization, like UITP (Organization of Transport Providers) or the ITF (International Transport Forum) and may be funded by the EU/DG MOVE with a small grant. On a cost-benefit analysis, a small investment can take this application far, as operators would save significant costs (1) on applying solutions that have been tested elsewhere, (2) offering betterments across operators; (3) saving on communication and marketing costs to increase trust. Trust is the most important currency in (post) Covid times. This application contributes to an increase in trust levels in commuters and fosters exchange within the industry and between different stakeholders.
Cost estimates: Website creation, data input: 50 000 EUR (9 Person month work; 10 000 EUR consumables) Running costs: 5000 EUR/month (0.8 PM; maintenance, data input, monitoring, out-reach)
Co-contributors and partners would assist in driving awareness of our platform together with our team. We would use direct marketing efforts to raise awareness amongst operators. The umbrella organization, together with DG MOVE would inform and engage providers to input data and use the service. A newsletter would reach the appropriate people within the specific organizations. Through embedding a widget in local PT apps/websites, users would be aware of the feedback possibility; operators may offer rewards for those users who give active feedback or make suggestions. Engaging local operators is key.
Our mentor, Ugo Cerretani indicated that Italian Railways may find such a service useful and engage actively. Claudia Falkinger, Open Innovation Team Austrian Railways indicated that they would also find the service useful.
Data solutions will be submitted by providers based on our templates which are required to share knowledge. The website offers search, screening and filtering, exchange and commenting, as well as open and restricted (membership based) information, e.g. costs of implementation of a solution or estimated impacts on user numbers. User feedback options are offered on the page to assist providers in adapting their solutions if they wish.
How we built it
We created the idea, invited a team of experts, decided to build a 'mock-up prototype' on balsamiq to show what we had in mind. Given the short time over the weekend, we decided to only do the mock-up, mood board for design and refined the original idea, designed potential services. However, Safe Mobility Solutions will be co-created with operators, as their needs and their willingness to share will be determined by them. We are in the midst of creating an online panel of mobility experts via the EU wide network @Critical Automobility Studies lab in Vienna (https://cas.ihs.ac.at/) With their help we will refine our concept to ensure that we create a secure and useful platform. We already reached out to the Association of Public Transport companies (https://www.uitp.org/) to get them on board and host the site.
Challenges we ran into
We had to streamline our message -- our mentor helped with his excellent questions. We had to make it simple and easy, both in explaining what it does and how it functions. We also had to be clear about our non-profit focus: public transport is not a business but part of what researchers of mobility call the 'mobility commons.' Everyone is entitled to good and affordable mobility; and it's not only about the technology, the routes or the timetable, but it is also about psychological and emotional factors. We want to help people be able to use public transport and also assist operators make their service better from this aspect as well. Time was short, slack was sometimes confusing and doing everything online is hard. But we managed!
Accomplishments that we are proud of
It was an amazing team effort, how our team got together, how others who liked the idea and worked together, sharing ideas and working to make the project better. It was over a weekend, we all had home duties and other responsibilities, but we all still worked during the day and the night to make Safe Mobility Solutions happen.
What we learned
Going online is easier said than done. On the other hand, to make a good website, you need more than just an idea -- you need a dedicated team of people with expertise. Communication is key. We all had wonderful ideas in creating a solution that would benefit many, but we needed to ensure that what we are building was communicated concisely; not just for the benefit of the competition, but for all of the stakeholders involved in mobility for all.
What's next for Safe Mobility Solutions
Our go-to market strategy involves looking for more partnerships across the EU and partnering with mobility providers. We intend on partnering with 50 providers within a month, so that our database is robust enough when it goes live. We believe that it is also the responsibility of larger operators to assist smaller ones. Our solution will help smaller players understand how to incorporate best practices for themselves and their communities. We are looking for a larger mobility organization to assist us in making this come to fruition.