6STTravel is a version of the 6STCampsite app adapted for use by communities outside the tourism domain. The app facilitates travel collaboration by allowing users to share information and offers/requests for lifts, shopping or other items. The app has been deployed in two rural communities in North Dorset and South Somerset to encourage more effective use of spare vehicle capacity and to tackle transport based social exclusion
Trials using 6STTravel were primarily focused on reducing car dependence in rural areas and resolving transport accessibility problems that lead to social exclusion. The research explored:
- how an understanding of other users' travel patterns over time might affect individual travel choices
- the scope for adoption of app enabled travel collaboration
- technological barriers to user adoption
Following the design of the 6STCampsite app, local government agencies expressed an interest in adopting the app as a lift-share tool. 6STCampsite was re-branded as 6STTravel to suit a local community context. The app features similar core elements to the 6STCampsite app:
- a map interface to show the user’s current location and allows users to add places of interest
- a heat map which visualised the collective travel patterns of all users over time on the map
- a message system that enables users to offer or request help
Trials took place across two rural village communities (Maiden Newton, Dorset and Martock, Somerset) during 2013 and 2014 involving 18 participants. Participants were recruited by the external partner in each trial. Each participant was briefed on the nature of the trial, given an introduction to the Travel App and a user manual. Participants were either loaned a project iPhone for the trial or downloaded the App to their own phones. Participants registered with a username, password and a unique code that joined them to the village social network. The participants were encouraged to use the app for the duration of the trial (two weeks at Maiden Newton and five weeks at Martock). Trial participants were encouraged to share travel information, lift-share and engage in collaborative shopping. App usage data were compiled by the app itself, which logged all activity on a secure computer server, and through researcher observations.
6STTravel can enable travel collaboration and can facilitate more seamless connections between individuals. This overcomes some of the limitations of current lift-share schemes which tie people to particular routines, routes and times. The following have been identified as fundamental challenges in user adoption of collaborative travel apps:
- 1. Attracting users and enabling users to identify with a need for the app
- 2. Offers of help dominate in contrast to requests for help as users seek to build credit in the exchange system to avoid debt
- 3. Incentives need careful management and can be counter-productive. Use of incentives needs to be agreed with user groups in advance
- 4. Subjective time pressure can be generated by app systems that involve users in off-line activities
- 5. New forms of community develop from collaborative travel apps and raise questions about trust and the degree of social contact and communication, both online and offline, needed to enable collaboration
Janet Dickinson, Chris Speed (2013).
Spaces of Flows 1.0: A working experience using Sixth Sense Transport technology, Digital Economy 2013: Open Digital, 4-6 November, MediaCityUK, Salford
Abstract: This workshop will loan smartphones to participants and embed them within a social network using the Sixth Sense Travel App to explore the flow of objects and information across MediaCityUK: The Sixth Sense Travel App, designed for a campsite community, gives people a sense of being in time by enabling users to follow the collective physical traces of other users in the past, present and, based on space-time memories, into the future. This enables users to make sense of network movements so they can reflect on their place in the social network across space and time. Workshop participants will be set travel tasks based on the collection of objects around the MediaCityUK conference venues. This replicates a shopping trip activity and demonstrates how an awareness of others within a social network might create opportunities for collaboration and reduce the need for car trips.
The activity will begin indoors with a short presentation and introduction to the iPhone app, before moving out into the local area. Participants should be aware of Manchester weather but also a chance to take part in a relatively active game of GPS hide and seek!
We understand the extent to which behavioural change in transport habits and practices can be facilitated through the creation of a new form of ‘transport network’, based on extending social networking principles to transport users.
The project has developed a suite of mobile phone apps for each of the corresponding research contexts. Watch videos and read details of the projects aims, key findings and outputs.
The 6ST team comprised researchers from the universities of Southampton, Edinburgh, Salford, Bournemouth and Lancaster.