Esta pregunta es a la vez noble y ordinario, atiende uno de los retos más urgentes de sostenibilidad de nuestro tiempo y uno de los más rutinarios. Como ir y volver del hogar al trabajo, la escuela o el mercado es bastante simple, pero hacerlo de manera confiable, asequible y sostenible para miles de millones de personas es un desafío que la sociedad aún no ha resuelto.
Mucho se ha hecho ya para poner el desarrollo urbano en una senda más sostenible. Pero, la urbanización está a todo vapor, con ciudades que se espera añadan 1.4 mil milliones de personas en los próximos 20 años. La ambición global para tomar medidas también está en aumento. La necesidad y la demanda de soluciones están superando lo que hay actualmente en oferta. Es momento de probar algo diferente.
El pensamiento de diseño centrado en el Humano – es un enfoque prometedor. Integra las necesidades de las personas, la aplicación creativa de los recursos, y los requisitos para el éxito del negocio. EMBARQ – el productor de TheCityFix – está tomando un vistazo a cómo este acercamiento al problema se puede aplicar para transformar la movilidad urbana. En los próximos meses, TheCityFix le llevará de compañia en el viaje.
Sustainable mobility has come a long way
Sustainable transport practitioners, advocates, and policymakers together have made amazing progress. A few notable examples include:
- Bus rapid transit (BRT) has spread to 186 cities, serving nearly 32 million people each day. Much of that growth has occurred in the last decade.
- Car-sharing has proliferated, with membership rates increasing five-fold between 2006 and 2012 to1.8 million members;
- More than 600 cities have bike-sharing programs;
- Car-free streets are the latest rage, from India’s car-free Raahgiri Days, to 295 pedestrian streets in Istanbul, to Helsinki’s car-free city movement;
- Campaigns to inspire action are more approachable, like the European Commission’s “Do the Right Mix” (see the video) or the Designed to Move initiative.
The impact of these solutions is undeniable. While there is no single measure that sums up the global benefits of these advances, EMBARQ’s own impact helping cities realize the benefits of sustainable mobility tells part of the story.
The stakes are growing
Today, over half of the world’s population lives in cities. By 2050, however, the world’s population is estimated to grow to 9.6 billion, with 66% living in cities. This rapid growth means we need to do more, faster.
Fortunately, world leaders are aligning to help. For the first time, cities are a focus area in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). City leaders played a key role at the recent U.N. Climate Summit in New York City. Networks and alliances abound to address cities’ needs for financing infrastructure, knowledge sharing, common action agendas, and transformative technology.
Design with people’s needs in mind
We can either wait for change to happen, or we can create change by design. But how do we find the “next BRT” or the “next car-share?” The key is asking the right question to the right group of people.
That is the essence of human-centered design.
For years, businesses have used design to create new products, markets and services – from the computer mouse to mobile banking in rural Africa. It starts with a deep and empathic understanding of user needs and experience, synthesizing the discovery to ideate, prototyping and field-testing early, and then implementing.
Take the example of U.S. passenger train service Amtrak. Amtrak wanted to improve the passenger experience on its busy Acela route between Washington, D.C. and New York City. It began looking at the train itself, but its breakthrough was realizing the passenger experience actually began much earlier. Out of the ten steps of a passenger’s journey, eight happened before they even got on the train. Human-centered design was the key to identifying opportunities to improve the overall experience.
Another important aspect of the design approach is failing early. That means moving ideas from paper to the real world as quickly as possible so that learning can occur as quickly. For instance, it was not in a research and development lab but with a plastic toy shell, guitar wire, wheels from a toy train set, a jam jar lid, and some wax that gave birth to the computer mouse.
This approach has also been applied successfully to social innovation. When the Japanese government wanted to get citizens to help reach the greenhouse gas emissions targets set by the Kyoto Protocol, instead of mandating change or flashy advertisement, they hired Hakuhodo, a design firm. They spotted an area for improvement – the temperature in office buildings. The question became how might they convince offices to change thermostat settings when, typically, the temperature was set cool enough to be comfortable for men to wear suits. Their answer was the “Cool Biz” campaign, which made it culturally acceptable for office workers to wear casual attire to stay cool in the summer. The result: 25,000 businesses signed on voluntarily, lowered energy use, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
What can human-centered design thinking do for sustainable transport?
EMBARQ is looking to put human-centered design into action for sustainable transport, and began working with design firm IDEO earlier this month.
Over eight weeks, a team of experts from both IDEO and EMBARQ will conduct field research in Helsinki and Mexico City, then move to San Francisco for a design workshop with “first movers” – people with experience and passion for pioneering ideas, including philanthropists, venture capitalists, bankers, technology experts, telecomm providers, marketers and, yes, even automakers. IDEO will then go solo to ideate in peace. This journey will not end, but lead to a new beginning with a set of designs and prototypes to bring to the world.
More than just following this process with us at TheCityFix, we hope you’ll participate! Leave a comment below to fill us in on cool ideas you’ve seen, heard of, or done yourself that applied human-centered design to solve an interesting question.
Acknowledgements: The EMBARQ project with IDEO is underwritten by Mr. Carlos Rodriguez Pastor and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, with additional support from General Motors andTransitCenter. The San Francisco design workshop is co-organized in partnership with the Global Philanthropy Forum and Northern California Grantmakers Association.