UMCASE (Citizens’ inclusive and accessible urban mobility solutions) is a one-year project, supported by EIT Urban Mobility, an initiative of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union. The project created an innovative method to engage key city actors in creating the mobility that suits them.
The UMCASE method is based on a design thinking approach that allows citizens, citizens’ representative organisations, relevant urban stakeholders, transport providers and businesses to work together during an intensive ideation cooperation. The unique combination of observation, interaction and evaluation of the solutions allowed UMCASE to go further than just formulation of ideas, truly being able to maximise people value (functional and emotional) while striking a balance between business viability and feasibility at large (technical, organisational and institutional). The city of Eindhoven, the Netherlands, tested our method with one group that might have difficulties accessing digital services, travellers with low income.
Together with cities and citizens, we developed our ideation sessions following five key steps:
1. Field immersion: We started by going through one week of immersion at each city, trying to observe and experience the current mobility from the end-user’s eyes;
2. Ideation workshop: Later we organised and conducted a co-ideation session with representatives of all the parties having a stake in the provision or use of inclusive digitally-enhanced mobility. These extensive workshops allowed us to understand the problems, unleashing creative solutions and preparing prototypes;
3. Design exploration: The initial material was further refined, deepened, and brought to a point where the best ideas or solution blocks could be mocked-up;
4. Mocking-up: The ideas further refined and deepened in the previous phase were turned into mock-ups;
5. Mock-up appraisal: Finally, these mock-ups were evaluated, in context, by actual users and local stakeholders.
Specifically in Eindhoven, it was recommended to host a different kind of workshop, deviating from the traditional approach of inviting people to a classroom and going about the subjects as their attendance would probably be very low. Thus, the actual workshop was done outdoors (non-traditional) as the researchers deemed this type of execution more suitable for attracting people rather than mobilizing them in a conference hall. Moreover, this gave the attendees the possibility to witness, experience and get in ‘touch’ with the various modes of transportation they could be using in the near future. This created a tangible aspect of smart mobility and helped ease potential users as the vehicles seen are familiarized. Multiple sessions were conducted simultaneously, and the approach was repeated with small groups of attendees, focusing on the shared mobility they preferred.