When it comes to mobility, some issues are easy to see. For example, when we are downtown or in commercial areas, we notice the vast empty parking lots that span a block, and we think space can be better used. We notice congested streets and see the need for alternative transportation such as bussing, biking, and walking. Many of these issues are noticed by the City as well, in fact, recently the City of Grand Rapids shared their goals with the community.
The City of Grand Rapids - Mobility Service Investment Plan
$200,000 to be spent on transportation solutions including:
Employer outreach programs
Try transit initiative
Bicycle and pedestrian safety education and programming
Seeking car share programs
These are great goals and areas of improvement for our community. However, what is missing from this discussion is what many do not see. Which is the transportation difficulties that seniors, those with disabilities, and our school-aged children face on a regular basis. Because of the baby boomer generation, this demographic is growing faster than any other group and is something that needs to be addressed now to strengthen and take care of our community. As a community, we need to pull together to make this a priority and give a voice to those who are too often overlooked.
The Challenge Question and/or Opportunity Area
The City of Tomorrow Challenge is looking for ideas for mobility options that can extend or enhance the existing infrastructure and services within the West Michigan Area, as well as solutions which focus on improved access, greater mobility, and increased safety for the City’s most vulnerable travelers. The proposal we are submitting focuses on the underserved and most vulnerable in our area and creates a viable solution which extends and creates mobility services for seniors, those with disabilities and our youth.
What we found to be true is a gap exists between West Michigan residents' personal mobility needs and existing services which are available, specifically, those residents of West Michigan who are more vulnerable (including seniors, those with disabilities, veterans and even school-aged youth). These individuals have decreased options and availability when it comes to transportation. Sadly, most are forced to make do with the restrictive or limited options available to them. If nothing is available, the lack of transportation has a varying degree of life-altering consequence, and can negatively impact those in our communities to miss appointments or sacrifice quality of life activities. In the West Michigan area, the services that exist like Go Bus are excellent, but not enough, and beyond relying on family and friends, there are not many options in our community that our most vulnerable know, like, trust or can afford.
Design a transportation platform to assist and transport Seniors, those with disabilities, those that cannot or should not drive, or those wanting extra assistance or more security. The platform should be capable of assisting and protecting vulnerable passengers, including, but not limited to those that are hard of hearing, have a visual impairment, cognitive issues, and physical limitation, as well as advocating for people of all races, age, genders, social status, and Veterans. Finally, this model should be designed to be inclusive and work with communities to address the differing needs which cities may have.
Kboose is a socially conscious technology company designed to address the mobility gap which exists in our society, by providing a PaaS hybrid rideshare platform for seniors, those with disabilities and our school-aged children. (PaaS is the technical term for platform as a service)
Kboose takes an innovative approach to mobility. We created this hybrid platform by combining a human element with PaaS technology. With our technology we pair contracted companion drivers with those that request a ride. Each driver can interact with the rider and assist them as much as necessary. Sometimes it is a pickup and drop-off, and other times it is a stay and support round-trip experience. The real-life case studies of Pat, Karen, Jason, Don, Bonnie, and our Youth (which is included in attached documentation) highlight the diversity of our clients and how we need versatility to transport and assist our riders. To contrast this with other services, Kboose companion drivers do more than just curb-to-curb pickup and drop off. Our Drivers offer our customers complete door-to-door service, from assisting our passengers to and from the vehicle or loading groceries, to waiting for passengers while they run errands or attending appointments with them as a companion.
Our piloting within the community taught us the Companion Drivers may embrace and require technology; however, riders may not. Our hybrid platform addresses this by allowing us to connect with the driver in multiple ways, including outside of technology.
Additionally, our platform can expand with emerging technologies. However, at Kboose, we recognize the functionality of a computer program or a tech platform will never replace the need for human compassion, empathy, and kindness. At Kboose, we want the time our riders spent with us to be the best part of their day - not just how they got there.
Finally, our service model is scalable and would not just target large cities. Rural and outlying communities would be welcome and encouraged to utilize Kboose to assist with their mobility gap as well.