Mobility data and trip purpose: a market segment of one
It’s always been an interesting question, but let’s take a look at it from a mobility perspective.
From the mobility point of view the question relates to trip purpose. Obviously, the chicken had a reason to travel. Perhaps her family were on the other side of the road and she wanted to visit them. Maybe there was an education or employment opportunity on the other side of the road. Perhaps the chicken coop was on the other side and she was returning home.
Trip purpose has an important role to play in the planning and design of mobility services. The trip purpose, and conditions under which the trip is made, has a significant impact on the choice of mode.
I realize that I just have embarked upon an imaginary process to plan and design mobility services for chickens, but it can only be based on my imagination as I don’t think like a chicken and have no data on chicken travel behaviour.
"Trip purpose has an important role to play in the planning and design of mobility services. The trip purpose has a significant impact on the choice of mode"
Walt Disney called it imagineering - solid engineering, based on imagination rather than fact, although I do have the advantage that the chicken is fictitious so I can pretty much make up any facts that I want. There is a strange freedom in not having data that enables me to plan and design mobility services based on my view of the world. This can be satisfying to me, of course, but is highly unlikely to satisfy the mobility needs of the chicken. I have a weak foundation on which to build a robust service.
A DESIGN FOR LIFE
We have a renewed focus on equity in mobility and it can get quite complicated. Dealing with the effects of mobility on equity can be a complex challenge. It seems to me, that the closer we get to the root of the issue, then the simpler it becomes. Perhaps the best approach to equity in mobility is to plan and design services for the individual. Over the past few years marketing professionals having discussed the concept of a “market segment of one.”
"Perhaps the best approach to equity in mobility is to plan and design services for the individual. Marketing professionals having discussed the concept of a market segment of one"
Many in marketing believe that there is sufficient data available regarding the needs and characteristics of people that there is no longer a need to group people into categories for marketing purposes. This not only improves equity, it also avoids the possibility of offending people by placing them in the wrong group or category.
Customers & consumers
Alvin Toffler, in his book Future Shock and The Third Wave, both written more than 50 years ago, predicted the situation we now find ourselves in. He described it as "mass customisation." The planning and design of products and services, customised to individual needs. Isn't that the ultimate solution to the challenge of equity - equity for me?
Toffler also noted that as consumers become more informed, it is possible to treat them as “prosumers”, in other words sophisticated, highly informed users who can play an active role in the planning and design process, rather than just receivers of the results of that process.
The third point that Toffler made is that the sheer scale and volume of data available can become confusing and make decisions harder, unless there are decision-support tools that convert data to information, extract insight from the information and provide advice on appropriate action.
"The sheer scale and volume of data available can become confusing and make decisions harder, unless there are decision-support tools that convert data to information"
A time for action
Consider the following steps. Firstly, let’s equip ourselves with an effective knowledge of new and existing data sources that are available to characterise the user and the problem. In particular, let’s understand how to use the power of the smartphone. The use of such devices is ubiquitous and can support two-way communication channels between planners, designers, service delivery resources and the end user. It is possible to observe travel behaviour and trip patterns, in an anonymous fashion, using the power of the smartphone. We can also ask the user to provide feedback in the form of crowd-source data and opinion surveys.
Secondly, let’s move on from the concept of designing for the “average.” Experts that inhabit the world of data science say that averages are the “enemy” that obscures effective insight. This also involves shifting our focus from a fascination about technology to a fascination about the effects on people. However, it is not about designing mobility for people, it’s about designing mobility for a person.
"Data scientists say that averages are the enemy that obscures effective insight. This also involves shifting our focus from a fascination about technology to a fascination about the effects on people"
Thirdly, let’s make sure that when we understand the data possibilities, we share this new knowledge with others in the field and ensure that we are sharing a central source of data that provides a common foundation and delivers a common context for planning, design, and delivery of mobility services.
Fourthly, let’s use new capabilities to do more than raise the quality of planning, design, and initial delivery, to consider the lifecycle of the service. Continues feedback from the user can bring people into the creation loop, making existing services better and future services more effective.
Back to the chicken
So let’s circle back to the original question: why did the chicken cross the road? Because it wanted to, and perhaps needed to, in a safe and efficient manner.
There are lessons and insights available from the simplest and most humorous of questions. There is a question for another time about whether the best effect for society would be achieved by helping the chicken to cross the road or convincing the chicken not to make the trip in the first place, but for now let’s just revel in the notion that there is a lot to be learned from chickens.
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