The role of user participation in the development of transport service innovations
thesisposted on 18.06.2020, 16:03 by Tracy RossTracy Ross
User involvement in transport decision-making (often referred to as ‘public participation’) has been actively encouraged by government for many years. However, the methods used for engaging the public are mostly traditional (e.g. questionnaires, consultation documents and focus groups) with very little use of creative techniques. Furthermore, the level of involvement is generally ‘passive’ (i.e. agreeing pre-established local authority priorities) rather than ‘active’ (i.e. generation of problem areas, priorities or potential solutions using participatory approaches).
‘Participatory design’ encompasses a broad range of methods and is often resource-heavy but leads to user-centric outcomes. If it is to be more widely employed in the development of sustainable transport solutions, then there needs to be more evidence of its value in this context, more exploration of which participants and which methods are beneficial, and more exploration of novel ways to engage with the travelling public. To address the latter, there is an opportunity to utilise the affordances of technology (e.g. mobile accessibility, location-enabled, immediacy, content-creation, mass-engagement) to understand what is needed, to co-create ideas and to collaborate in the pursuance of these solutions. It is this overlapping of direct user involvement, innovative approaches and technology affordances that is explored in this thesis in the context of sustainable transport innovations.
This thesis presents ten publications that, as a collection, show how the author has investigated the role of user participation in the development of transport service innovations. This body of work makes a contribution to knowledge predominantly in participatory design but also in other domains including transport studies, crowdsourcing and grassroots innovation. The work has provided evidence of the benefits of user participation at different stages of the design process including problem identification via crowdsourced content, identifying novel and diverse solutions using generative methods and actively creating solutions using ‘volunteered information’.