In the past few years, the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant put itself forward as a breeding ground for innovation. Now home to world-class businesses, knowledge institutes and research institutions, the province truly became an innovation ‘hub’.
To strengthen their position as pioneers in the Netherlands, province officials identified key themes they wanted to develop a vision for. STBY worked with Noord-Brabant in developing the vision for the future of Mobility.
Take a peek at the future by looking at innovators
The theme of mobility is rather large. On one hand, it entails all the aspects related to linking the cities and the rural areas. On the other hand it also entails a broad range of aspects related to transportation, such as smart mobility, information systems, electric driving and safety.
In order to identify which mobility sub-themes should be prioritised, STBY conducted an in-depth exploratory study amongst citizens of Noord-Brabant. Particularly, STBY selected citizens who were early adopters of new mobility services to participate in the study. By understanding how these innovators are making considerations on their mobility options, we were able to identify key mobility themes for the future.
When imagining the future with innovators it is always important to recognise the gap between these early adopters and the much larger group of “followers”. STBY also conducted interviews with followers in order to understand their key decision drivers and what keeps them from adopting new mobility solutions. The outcome of this initial research was a series of visual profiles, customer journeys and video fragments to illustrate participant’s considerations.
Co-create the roadmap
These results from the initial research were explored in a co-creation workshop with different stakeholders: policy makers from Noord-Brabant, citizens, creative professionals and people from organisations dealing with mobility. Working in small groups, STBY facilitated a co-exploration of the research findings and identification of themes related to the future of mobility.
Building on the future of mobility themes, participants went through a series of “what if?” exercises so that innovative solutions could be co-created.
The themes and ideas developed in the workshop are currently being explored further by province officials and used as a basis for the formulation of the roadmap for mobility for 2014-2020. Also, inspired by the new design-led approach to address this matter, the province of Noord-Brabant decided to learn more about it and wants to integrate design research in their standard processes.
Sustainable public policies inspired by sustainable research
One of the key benefits of Design Research is that results can be re-analysed under a different light, eliminating the need to conduct new research if new topics are related with old ones. For example, policy makers from Noord-Brabant are recognising this possibility in the work being developed for the theme “electric driving”. Instead of conducting new research, public officials can re-analyse the research output from the “future of mobility” project and generate specific insights and opportunities for this sub-topic.
In this project, policy makers from Noord-Brabant were introduced to a people-centred approach when addressing complex service matters. They discovered how much inspiration can be drawn from listening and exploring the stories of their citizens and were taught how to use this input to formulate specific action points. Furthermore, the richness of this stories makes it possible to listen and use them again and again, from a different perspective, and derive new insights. The province of Noord-Brabant is not only taking steps towards a more sustainable economy in the future, but is also supporting sustainable research.