Co-designing interactive systems to increase autonomy and improve the door-to-door customer journey for irish rail
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Public transport companies like Irish Rail have a vital role to play in countering the many problems that modern society is facing, such as climate change, energy independence while at the same time increasing the mobility of citizens and improving their independence. Accessible, high-quality public transport with low barriers is more likely to be sustainable and potentially contribute to a modal switch whereby private vehicle owners reduce their dependency and increase their utilisation of public transportation (Doyle et al , 2020, Ch. 5). Literature highlights the increased use of technology and digital platforms and the transport and travel industry globally has been quick to embrace new opportunities that these platforms afford. However, even the most cursory look at the selection of smartphone apps provided by the industry shows a focus on the ticketing / commercial / timetabling aspects of their business, overlooking the in-depth needs of public transport travellers. In the absence of deep design research on Irish Rail to determine gaps and unmet customer needs, this research considers these needs in the context of the broadest possible door-to-door journey. The overall objectives of this research are to inform Irish Rail on new areas for interactive systems for travellers through a user centred design process, learning how to do so and to provide information on how to do this type of design activity in the future. The research questions for this study are as follows 1. What interactive systems should be designed to improve experience and autonomy for Irish Rail's customer’s door to door journey? 2. How can user centred design frameworks assist Irish Rail to meet this objective? To answer these questions the study applies a mixed-methods methodology using qualitative and quantitative data from surveys (N=316) and co-design workshops (4 workshops N=15), following the guidance of Irish Standard I.S. EN 17161:2019 Design for All. The research collects deep insights into the mindsets and needs of Irish Rail travellers to show the potential to improve the door to the door customer journey. Interpreting and analysing these needs, emerging outcomes vis-à-vis the complex stakeholder relationship are reviewed, to parse out the results related to Irish Rail in the context of information technology. The research concludes 11 that travellers' autonomy and the sense of freedom they experience can be improved, particularly if their needs across the complete door-to-door customer are supported in the areas of information accuracy, personal safety and general accessibility. The study proposes a high-level conceptual model for a new digital assistant for travellers supporting most of their needs throughout the door-to-door journey which Irish Rail will consider in their technology roadmap for 2022 to 2025. This model and several data visualisations showing the general findings from this research and recommendations for further research will be provided to Irish Rail. The process of user-centred design and 'co-designing' has successfully yielded many positive outcomes in this study. This method of 'designing with, not for customers' is a method that Irish Rail can and should adopt. This study provides a Design Guide for the company and summarises many of the lessons learned throughout the study to communicate the need for improved usercentred design and further design research by Irish Rail.
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