A couple weeks back, city managers, big company representatives, mobility geeks and regular Swedes joined forces for the shift towards fossil free and smarter transportation during an initial workshop in Stockholm. 8 hours, 34 participants, 92 cups of coffee, and one target: Becoming better equipped for the transformation to a sustainable transportation sector in Sweden.
To drive change, we should
#1 understand needs on all levels and verticals.
It’s easy to oversee or underestimate details when looking at challenges from a micro-level, but the workshop taught us several ways in which details can really impact behavior and determine success or failure.
For example, small toilet spaces can be the crunching factor for not going by train when traveling with kids (end user insight). Or, being forced to wear safety vests when biking thru an industrial area can make people choose the car over the bike (need owner use case).
Flexibility, personalization and adaption are all crucial design properties for the future of mobility.
Paradoxically enough, self-optimization is carried out by end users every day to boost daily convenience. However, that’s not always beneficial for the collective - one example being the typical urban “car driver versus biker” primacy conflict. Bottom line, this points at the need to create an “unstandardized standard” that takes the whole community into consideration.
#2 unfold the end user perspective.
Security is a central factor, and perhaps and obvious one to most. However, deepening on cases such as “the parent worrying about the teenager traveling alone at night”, you’ll find that security concerns are not so much about the actual ride or the means of transportation, but how to move between them. That opens up for completely new perspectives on mobility solutions. In the case of the worried parent: Shifting focus from safe vehicles to safe urban areas.
Other identified decision factors are reliability, time, money, comfort and convenience. Or is it really?
Unfolding subconscious levels of behaviors, needs and wants might point at strong hidden factors such as the neighbor effect (driven by group pressure and personal image), the illusion of efficiency (for example holding on to plausible car benefits such as "it’s easier to predict"), norm based traveling (or identity based decision making, are you "the biker", "the climate hero" or “the family dad”?).
#3 Invite big companies in to the need definition phase.
Employees as end users, company costs as drivers for change, and local presence as keys to understanding unique contexts.
From this perspective, big corporations are not only potential customers or suppliers, but the perfect interface to valuable data sets for laying the groundwork and deepen on end-user needs before moving on to market dialogue and the landscape of the solutions providers.
#4 seize opportunities to real implementation in temporary change.
For example, the E22 route in Skåne is undergoing massive construction work in the coming years, which will mean an “annoying” and forced change for car travelers, and a need for a temporary city solution. Why not aim for an improved and permanent solution instead?
Another example is a large corporation cutting costs by looking at travel expenses and means of transportation:
"The upside is of course employees then travel less, but as soon as the economy goes up – the travels do to.”
Not necessarily if viewing this inevitable change as a way to reset completely. In this sense, negative change make an opportunity to positive implementation.
#5 forecast change.
Combining human needs like socialization and access to food with world contexts is how we can “predict the future”.
As it is now, most of us believe that personal transportation is more impactful than shipping; that reaching zero carbon is easier in urban areas than rural areas; that tangibility and incitement is equally important in successful challenge programs; that implementation could happen right now and in 5 years; and that when it comes to local and global needs - we should start small in Sweden, but invite the world to scale.
#6 continue working.
Hosted by the Swedish Energy Agency, Swedish Incubators & Science Parks and the New York based innovation company IDEO, the initial workshop has now set the course for a four-month process to understand the needs and possibilities for new sustainable and seamless mobility solutions.
About Sustainable Mobility as a Service
Sustainable Mobility as a Service is a project initiated by the Swedish Energy Agency aiming to co-develop new solutions and profitable business models in to reach the national goal of a fossil free transportation sector before 2045 (many involved stakeholders aim to reach this goal by 2030).
Sweden has committed to a long-term goal of reducing or eliminating carbon pollution within its borders, and has designated the Swedish Energy Agency as the coordinating agency in energy supply and the transportation sector. As a result, the platform “A Challenge from Sweden” has been co-developed with Swedish Incubators & Science Parks, bringing together the most committed stakeholders to meet key sustainability challenges.
"Gather a group of buyers, give the need definition the appropriate amount of time, reach out globally, and make it easy for solution providers to participate." Charlotte Lejon, Head of Commercialization and Entrepreneurship at the Swedish Energy Agency.