The University of Cambridge’s Inclusive Design Team, have applied their Inclusive Design Wheel to transport. As with many frameworks, it lists a step-by-step process, but with a twist. It is a co-design process. The key principle of the Inclusive Design Wheel is that the process is highly iterative and involves users.
The Inclusive Design Wheel for Transport consists of four phases of activity: Manage, Explore, Create and Evaluate
The Wheel is flexible and it is not always necessary to carry out all activities in every iteration. Successive cycles of Explore, Create and Evaluate are used to generate a clearer understanding of needs.
Each of the four phases is broken down into guiding tasks. For example, in the Explore phase, engage with users, examine user journeys, and capture wants and needs. In the Create phase, involve users, stimulate ideas, and refine ideas. In the Evaluate phase, agree success criteria, gather expert feedback and gather user feedback.
The Inclusive Design Wheel is a detailed online toolkit. While some of the steps appear obvious, the step-by-step process keeps you on track. This is a useful tool which can be applied in other contexts.
The underpinning research
The Inclusive Design Team completed their Dignity project on digital access to transport. They worked in four European cities to see how best to help travellers and providers. The aim of the project was to see how all stakeholders can help bridge the digital gap. They did this by co-creating more inclusive solutions using co-design methods. Their Inclusive Design Wheel is the result and is applicable to all aspects of public transport.
The evolution of paper-based train and bus timetables to digital formats has benefits and drawbacks. On one hand, digital formats offer more detailed information to help plan journeys. On the other, the amount of information can be overwhelming – that is, if you can find what you are looking for. And if you don’t have access to digital services then this format is of no use at all.
At first glance the Inclusive Design Wheel looks complex. The research team used feedback from the research project to fine tune the framework to its current form.
The Dignity report is long, comprehensive, and uses academic language. It details the methods in all four cities: Ancona Italy, Barcelona Spain, Flanders, Belgium, and Tilbug Netherlands.
Digital first and last mile
Many car trips in Australia are less than 2km. So there is room for a re-think in personal e-mobility and digital solutions. The Future of Place organisation recently ran an online workshop on the digital last mile. It drew together technology and data solutions to support first and last mile experience. The key question was what does the last mile of the future look like? It therefore follows: will everyone be included in the digital first and last mile solutions?
Four guests gave their expertise to the workshop. Katherine Mitchell reminded us that regular commuters have high levels of digital literacy. But not everyone has a smart device. She focused on accessibility, safety, confidence and wayfinding.
Damien Hewitt posed the idea of bus stops offering more local information, not just about transport or timetables. Stephen Coulter discussed the opportunities for micro-mobility and e-mobility. With 12 billion car trips of less than 2km made each year it’s time for transformation.
Oliver Lewis advocated for a greater level of digitisation to manage assets for real time experiences for users. He also introduced the idea of “Digital Twins”. An example of a digital twin is a digital 3D model of a real physical object or process. It helps predict how a product will perform.