Gran does not have a smartphone and is ignorant about computers. How does she travelby public transport? Lisette Hoeke about the DIGNITY project.
Gran has bad eyesight, is 78, does not have a smartphone and is ignorant about computers. She is still active though, and because she has bad eyesight, she travels by train, but due to digitisation in public transport she is not looking forward one little bit to visiting her grandchildren elsewhere in the country. And certainly not now, with all those corona measures. How can we make things easier for gran?
This is precisely what the DIGNITY project is about. Lisette Hoeke of the Academy for Built Environment & Logistics (ABEL) loves to talk some more about the Horizon 2020 research project.
‘All sorts of new apps and online mobility services, think for example of buying tickets online, online reservations of rental bikes and shared cars and asking for up-to-date travel information are good mobility solutions for many people, but not for all of us,’ Lisette Hoeke begins her story. ‘Simply because there are people who cannot use these solutions, and they have all sorts of reasons for it.’
Mobility for everyone
‘The elderly often have difficulty keeping pace with the online world because they were not brought up with it, and people who do not master the language well can also encounter difficulties with digitisation. What’s more, some people have a physical problem as a result of which travel opportunities are restricted such as in the case of grandma who has bad eyesight from the example. On the basis of the idea of ‘mobility for everyone’ we are conducting research into these issues and we are going to seek solutions together with the parties involved with which we do help these people get going.’
‘First of all, we want to map out the problem in a region with this research project. How big is the group of residents who do not use online mobility services, and what does the offering look like? Subsequently, we’re going to talk with these residents, providers and policymakers, and discuss how things could be improved. We are doing so in four pilot regions. In those regions, we are testing out our course of action, and in this way, we are compiling a set of methods, measures and tools that regions can use, and contribute to an inclusive society.’
Digitisation and transport poverty
‘Our project brings two themes together, digitisation of society and what we call transport poverty; mobility that is not accessible for everyone. Research has certainly been conducted into both themes independently of each other, but no extensive research has been conducted into the impact of digitisation within mobility and what it means to certain target groups. In this project, we combine the two, and that’s what I like about it. It is expected that more and more will be digitised, and therefore, it is good – and necessary – for us to set to work on this theme.’
‘In the project, we are seeking to collaborate with municipalities, industry partners and providers of transport and online services. The pilot regions that I have just been talking about are the city of Tilburg and surroundings (the Netherlands), the Flemish Region (Belgium), the Metropolitan Region of Barcelona (Spain) and Ancona (Italy). Apart from the municipalities, four industry partners and six research partners are involved in these regions, so there is a broad diversity. In total, six countries are represented in the EU. In this project, we are collaborating on both applied and scientific research with, among others, UPC Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and the University of Cambridge. Because issues are different in every region, the research focus is different as well. The solution is not necessarily offering an alternative that is not digitised; it is about seeking a low-threshold solution for everyone.’
‘It starts with awareness, among providers as well, and this requires more insight into issues around digitisation and transport poverty. Upon completion of my Construction Management & Engineering course in Eindhoven I worked at a consultancy agency on mobility projects in which people’s behaviour was central. The DIGNITY project is a perfect match, and I hope I can enthuse even more BUas colleagues for this project. We would like to work on exchanging knowledge with other academies and it is our intention that this project will result in a learning community around this theme. I warmly invite everybody to think along with us, including municipalities and mobility providers. Let’s head for an inclusive society together!’
Further details can be found on the corporate website of BUas and on the website of DIGNITY. Of course, you could also contact Lisette Hoeke.