“Mobility = Freedom.” - Amy*
Transportation systems in most cities have reached capacity. While we don’t always think about all that goes on behind the scenes to help us move around smoothly, we do feel the impact when things get strained: traffic, increasingly long commutes, higher cost of parking, etc. And as more people move to cities over the next 30 years, we need to dramatically shift our thinking to redesign mobility in ways that not only meet the growing demand, but improve quality of life at the same time.
We believe the core of this process is understanding the needs of real people, which is why we start each challenge with an ethnographic study—interviews, intercepts and ride alongs conducted by local design researchers—to better understand the transportation experiences of the city’s residents.
“There are lots of places I don't go because I don't want to ask for a ride.” - Nick*
Unlike a survey or questionnaire, an ethnographic study is contextual and observational—researchers are aiming to learn from what someone says they do, as well as what they actually do. When we meet people in their homes or join them on their journeys, we start to more deeply connect with people and their stories and needs. It’s that moment when we realize: “I’m designing this for my neighbor, for that woman on the bus, for that man I always see at the grocery store.”
“In the bus, I run into people I know and when I notice someone is lost I help them. I like that I can feel useful.” - Kim*
Find out what we learned from some of our initial conversations with Pittsburgh residents about how they move around the city in the “Pittsburgh Community Stories.” We know this is only the beginning and there are many more stories we still need to hear. We invite you to share your own, go out and interview a friend or neighbor as a part of the challenge, and join us in informing city planning and inspiring new mobility solutions that can create immediate impact on people’s lives. Together, we can create a future where mobility is flexible, accessible, and most of all, empowering.
Aniela Kuzon is the Global Lead on the City of Tomorrow Challenge, and Partnerships Manager, City Solutions for Ford Motor Company. Aniela has extensive experience in partnerships and has previously run similar mobility-focused challenges in Detroit and New York City.
*Name has been changed to protect individual’s identity.