UKRI Economic and Social Research Council logo

Co-creating accessible futures through new mobility services

Overview

Dr Nikolas Thomopoulos and an impressive list of partners, have been awarded ESRC IAA funding for a project which will engage with the public to address the lack of a ‘citizen’s view’ in the design of new technology based mobility services.

All digital technology based mobility services tested and deployed today, from shared taxi rides and shared bicycle schemes to electric and autonomous vehicles, are considered new mobility services. They feature as a prominent solution globally to address climate change and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, given the high contribution of transport in Green House Gas emissions. Yet, one missing link of all these developments has been the citizens’ view.

The WISE-ACT (Wider Impacts and Scenario Evaluation of Autonomous and Connected Transport) international survey distributed in more than 20 countries within Europe and beyond, collected more than 4,000 responses and a critical finding which led the European Commission to reconsider its approach to new mobility services has been the low acceptance level from the general public, particularly within certain localities.

According to ScienceWise, a UK  Government initiative which currently includes Future of Mobility in their priority themes, policies which do not take citizen and user views into account, can be hard to implement, costly to amend and have negative social impacts.

There is sustained uncertainty regarding the uptake of shared mobility services for leisure or commuting journeys and the respective impact on congestion, which has been further exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Experts feel that a holistic approach where citizens have a core role is essential given that new mobility services are technologically complex and challenge a series of established social norms and practices for users and businesses.

This need for a new approach will be addressed through an ESRC IAA funded project, allowing local citizens to voice and visualise their concerns. By co-creating an approach with local experts and stakeholders the team will adjust large scale survey findings to make them relevant for local communities in the UK including marginalised socio-economic groups such as disabled, aged, single-parents and those affected by the digital divide.

Team

Impact

The objective of this project is to communicate research findings to the general public effectively and adjust key messages to be incorporated in future policies.

Project outputs will be of interest to businesses developing new mobility services, particularly those targeting marginalised or underrepresented socio-economic groups whose rights are often not taken into account.

Through the initial workshop, local stakeholders will co-design the citizen engagement event approach, ensuring their uptake and adjustment to their local context.

Impact will be assessed through the number of public engagement events, expressions of interest and requests for project materials.

The project will merge research with the visualisation of public opinion and citizen values, contributing in the adoption of citizen science and the launch of a Citizens Forum at will create long-term and synergistic impact.