transit

Modern Multi-Tasking: get home and buy groceries at the same time

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGaVFRzTTP4&w=440&h=360] TESCO, now Homeplus, is a grocery store chain in Korea.  As an underdog to competitor E-Mart, Home Plus needed to figure out a way to reach more customers.  According to their research, Koreans are the “second hardest working people in the world” and as such, dread the once a week trip to the crowded grocery store.  Their solution?  Bring the store to the people.

They installed graphical displays in subway stations that exactly replicate grocery store shelves full of goods.  In this virtual store, rather than picking up the goods and placing them in your cart, you scan the QR code on the display, which adds the item to your online cart that is linked to your mobile phone payment system.  Remarkably, the actual item is then delivered to your door shortly after you arrive home.

The solution resulted in more productive waiting time for customers traveling on transit, and an increase in sales for Homeplus, making it the number one online grocery retailer in Korea.

-          Terra Curtis

 

Transit Data in Developing Countries

Living in PeruTo piggyback on Tuesday’s post about transit data in the rural US, I thought I would mention an article I read on MIT’s CoLab blog recently, Ms. Teresa Diaz, a Datera in Lima.  The CoLab is a center for planning and development within MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning focused on strengthening civic life in low-income communities.  Their blog, the CoLab Radio, is a place where people involved in these efforts can share ideas and projects.  Sebastio Ferreira, one of the contributors, is creating a 52-post, 52-week long photo journal as a way to stay in touch with CoLab after completing 5 years as a fellow with MIT and returning to his home in Lima, Peru. Posts 4 and 4.5 chronicle the story of transit data, dateros and Teresa Diaz.  In Lima, there is no centralized planning agency setting the schedules for public buses.  Instead, self-employed “data guys” or dateros manually track when buses come to a certain stop and how full their buses are.  They then sell this information to bus drivers for 5 or 10 cents who use it to time their departures and speeds so as to maximize the amount of passengers they’ll find at the next stop.

Could this effort be enhanced with the use of mobile phones?  With at least 1 in 2 people having access to a mobile phone in developing countries, it seems there is potential.  SMS-style messages could make the spread of this data more real time.  However, because of the current self-employment structure, this work currently financially supports a segment of the population, which could be lost if the system were to become more formalized.  Thoughts?

- Terra Curtis

 

Tech + Transit

By now, this article has made the rounds among transit advocates and techies, at least in the US.  I’m hoping to spread it to Europe now, but especially to readers of this blog who I think will be particularly enthused.mbta app A recent study conducted by Latitude Research and Next American City reveals that new technologies and improved access to information can encourage transit use.  They sampled 18 individuals aged 24 - 51 from Boston and San Francisco who are regular car drivers and asked them to go car-free for a week.  They were tracked by GPS, surveyed about their perceptions of mobility before and after the study, and engaged in group discussions using the web throughout the study.  Boston and San Francisco were chosen due to their recent commitment to open data solutions and technological initiatives.

The study is summarized by three main insights:

  • Information can equalize transit choices
    • Participants rated convenience, control, and flexibility as their highest values for mobility.
    • Location-aware mobile apps provide real-time information about the trade-offs between different routes and modes of travel, extending a feeling of convenience, control, and flexibility to transit.
  • Lose a car, gain a community
    • The majority of participants felt reconnected to their neighbors and their community by riding transit or adopting other non-automobile oriented transportation.
    • Mobile apps can enhance the off-line, real-world experience by connecting individuals to others while traveling.
  • Alternative transit is good for me and we
    • Participants gained insight into the environmental, health, and economic/financial benefits of car-free lifestyle.
    • Readily accessible information, largely available through the use of mobile apps, allows for empathy formation and an increased understanding of their own and others’ preferences and values.

This study serves to legitimize what many of us has believed for a long time.  It goes further to say there’s great value in deprivation, where individuals learn by doing and experiencing, rather than by being preached at by an advocacy crowd.  I hope this study gets expanded to a larger group, comparing the behaviors and experiences of those in tech-enabled cities (e.g. Boston and San Francisco) to areas who have not yet adapted these innovations.  I’d also like to hear thoughts about how this type of experiential learning can be extended beyond the world of research and into policies of programs of municipalities.  Bike to work and school week seem like promising opportunities.

-Terra Curtis

Tech + Transit

By now, this article has made the rounds among transit advocates and techies, at least in the US.  I’m hoping to spread it to Europe now, but especially to readers of this blog who I think will be particularly enthused.mbta app A recent study conducted by Latitude Research and Next American City reveals that new technologies and improved access to information can encourage transit use.  They sampled 18 individuals aged 24 - 51 from Boston and San Francisco who are regular car drivers and asked them to go car-free for a week.  They were tracked by GPS, surveyed about their perceptions of mobility before and after the study, and engaged in group discussions using the web throughout the study.  Boston and San Francisco were chosen due to their recent commitment to open data solutions and technological initiatives.

The study is summarized by three main insights:

  • Information can equalize transit choices
    • Participants rated convenience, control, and flexibility as their highest values for mobility.
    • Location-aware mobile apps provide real-time information about the trade-offs between different routes and modes of travel, extending a feeling of convenience, control, and flexibility to transit.
  • Lose a car, gain a community
    • The majority of participants felt reconnected to their neighbors and their community by riding transit or adopting other non-automobile oriented transportation.
    • Mobile apps can enhance the off-line, real-world experience by connecting individuals to others while traveling.
  • Alternative transit is good for me and we
    • Participants gained insight into the environmental, health, and economic/financial benefits of car-free lifestyle.
    • Readily accessible information, largely available through the use of mobile apps, allows for empathy formation and an increased understanding of their own and others’ preferences and values.

This study serves to legitimize what many of us has believed for a long time.  It goes further to say there’s great value in deprivation, where individuals learn by doing and experiencing, rather than by being preached at by an advocacy crowd.  I hope this study gets expanded to a larger group, comparing the behaviors and experiences of those in tech-enabled cities (e.g. Boston and San Francisco) to areas who have not yet adapted these innovations.  I’d also like to hear thoughts about how this type of experiential learning can be extended beyond the world of research and into policies of programs of municipalities.  Bike to work and school week seem like promising opportunities.

-Terra Curtis

Mapnificent

[vimeo 16362921 w=400 h=250]

Mapnificent from Stefan Wehrmeyer on Vimeo.

A new tool developed by Stefan Wehrmeyer beautifully displays mobility and access for a given point in a city.  Mapnificent so far contains data for 20 cities, most of which are in the US but others include Berlin, London, and Auckland. The site allows you to set a point in your chosen city and a map will display the entire area over which you could travel by public transit in a given amount of time.  It also allows you to see an area that is both 15 minutes away from yourself and 15 minutes away from a friend by transit, and since it is integrated with Google Maps, allows you to search destinations within that specified area.

Mobility and access are two important facets of a transportation system.  Mobility essentially measures the speed with which one can travel from one point to another; access measures how many destinations are located nearby or within a given travel time.  New York City has low mobility (for automobiles) but high accessibility; rural areas have high mobility but low accessibility.  What I like most about Mapnificent is its demonstration of both concepts together.  Transportation planning has relied heavily on improving mobility, without (in my opinion) enough focus on accessibility.  Perhaps Mapnificent is useful beyond just as a beautiful data display but as a comparison and evaluation tool for transit providers.

-Terra Curtis

Mapnificent

[vimeo 16362921 w=400 h=250]

Mapnificent from Stefan Wehrmeyer on Vimeo.

A new tool developed by Stefan Wehrmeyer beautifully displays mobility and access for a given point in a city.  Mapnificent so far contains data for 20 cities, most of which are in the US but others include Berlin, London, and Auckland. The site allows you to set a point in your chosen city and a map will display the entire area over which you could travel by public transit in a given amount of time.  It also allows you to see an area that is both 15 minutes away from yourself and 15 minutes away from a friend by transit, and since it is integrated with Google Maps, allows you to search destinations within that specified area.

Mobility and access are two important facets of a transportation system.  Mobility essentially measures the speed with which one can travel from one point to another; access measures how many destinations are located nearby or within a given travel time.  New York City has low mobility (for automobiles) but high accessibility; rural areas have high mobility but low accessibility.  What I like most about Mapnificent is its demonstration of both concepts together.  Transportation planning has relied heavily on improving mobility, without (in my opinion) enough focus on accessibility.  Perhaps Mapnificent is useful beyond just as a beautiful data display but as a comparison and evaluation tool for transit providers.

-Terra Curtis

Streetsblog Success

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/13190639 w=400&h=225]

Streetsblog San Francisco shows its political clout! from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

I wrote earlier this week about Betaville, a SimCity-like “game” that acts like an urban planning wiki.  I wrote a while ago about the town of Cary, North Carolina and their Virtual Interactive Planner (“VIP”) tool.  Both of these solutions attempt to solve the problem of public participation in planning, deliberately.

Streetsblog, who I’ve probably referenced before but never written about exclusively, is an entirely different solution, and I think it solves the same problem (and others) better.  Streetsblog is a collection of blogs from all over the US and abroad, each focusing on “transportation policy goodness.”  Its purpose is not singly to involve the public or to gather ideas.  Rather, all it really is is an amazing collection of up-to-date information.

However, it has become much more than that.  In San Francisco, Supervisor Eric Mar gets his information first from Streetsblog, not from within City Hall.  Community members and activists from all sides of transportation debates comment with gusto (this article got 26 comments in about a day).  So, without even trying to, Streetsblog has become more than a deliverer of information.  It has become a producer of information, ideas, and conversation that serve both to educate the public and inform public officials.

It’s a great use of blogging technology that has helped stimulate productive conversations between everyday citizens, activists, and representatives in San Francisco.  It’s probably doing the same thing in your city, too.

­­-Terra Curtis