UX Strategy | UI Design
Mobile App Strategy & Design
to Track User Transportation Data
Arity approached us with the issue of a gap in transportation data. Cities have more transportation data than ever but lack the capability and bandwidth to get data from their user's perspective.
With a transportation data tracking app already built, we were asked to find a solution in a 4 day design sprint to transform the app into a useful tool for users and incentivize them to share their data to make their cities safer and more efficient.
We live in a society where we are constantly connected, and in doing so, we are constantly sharing our data. In this sense, people have both a cautious and ignorant approach to the data they share. When speaking to users about directly letting them know that someone is taking their data, their initial reaction is defensive and unfavorabl, which is understandable considering recent large data breaches like Equifax, Uber and Yahoo!. On the other hand, people give away their data all day long without thinking twice about it - when they log into a new app with their Facebook credentials or every time they allow an app to turn on location services.
In this sense, we faced a difficult challenge in being transparent and open with our users about allowing us to monitor their transportation and movement data. At the core of Arity is transparency, and they have no interest in taking user's data without the user being aware and opting in. So how could we provide enough value to users that they would see it worthwhile to share their data with us?
Users can be incentivized to opt in to sharing data with their cities without monetary reward.
We made sure to list our assumptions and biases around our ideas to make sure that we weren't making false assumptions. We also affinity mapped around different ways to approach the problem - with physical incentives, creating a game, and many other ideas.
We focused our research in Denver, because it's a city we knew well, and it has the potential to be a pilot city for Arity when they land on a solution. On a tight schedule due to the sprint, we spoke to 5 people, and gathered several insights from synthesizing their words and feelings.
Many people love their city, and Denver is no exception. What really struck them was the heart of the project - making their cities safer and better. We found that people want to get involved in their communities, but don't see an easy path to doing so, especially with busy schedules.
Denver is where they chose to raise their kids, find jobs, spend their weekends hiking, and even start businesses. What goes on in their neighborhoods and city affects their lives, and they want a say in the matter.
Transportation was a pain point for our users - Denver is undergoing many growing pains, and people are feeling it in their commutes. Many of them take multiple modes of transportation in one day - a car, the bus, walking, biking, etc. What should be a 15 minute drive quickly turns into a 45 minute trip home in the evening.
Our main takeaway: People take pride in their cities and want to feel that they are personally contributing to making them a better place to live.
We wanted to avoid a traditional incentive model of paying users for sharing their data and focused our strategy on creating an app that gave users a meaningful way for them to feel that their data was contributing to bettering the city they lived in and loved.
Our vision was to utilize Arity's existing data collection technology and use it to develop an app that allowed users to vote on projects they found meaningful in their local communities. By offering up their transportation data, users could earn votes to support the projects that matter to them.
By allowing users to get more involved in the improvements that get funded in their communities, not only do the cities collect the transportation data they need to fill in the gaps from the user's perspective, but it also creates a channel between the city and the user for the city to better undertstand what their constituents care about.
With this objective in mind, we developed Matter, an app powered by the data collection and analysis tools of Arity, that let users build a better city.
By allowing users to earn points simply by letting the app run during their commutes and daily trips, we give them an opportunity to vote and have a real impact on the projects completed in their city.
The city benefits by getting the quantitative and qualitative (bonus points for giving more details about your commute) data they need to fill in gaps in their transportation data. They also get support for local initiatives.
Finally, Arity also benefits by positioning themselves as an altruistic startup that supports cities and their citizens by donating to local projects. More importantly, they collect powerful data from different cities that will improve transportation systems nationwide.
One of the biggest challenges we saw was getting Matter off the ground and getting the concept up and running. Arity already has a relationship with several cities, and we knew we could leverage that. An opportunity we saw for Arity to directly contribute was to donate funding to the first 'winning' initiative. Depending on how many people got involved and downloaded the app, the amount Arity donated would increase. Arity already has a budget per user they planned on spending, and we used that number to decide how to calculate the donation per city downloads. This incentivizes cities to increase people using the app, because it's money that will go back into their communities.
We learned from speaking to people in local politics and city officials that it is a fairly simple process for cities to accept private funding, and it usually takes one internal vote to approve the donated funds. Arity would work alongside the city to decide on which initiatives they would like to put in front of the public and get an opinion on. This becomes a simple way for the city to push initiatives of interest to them, and gauge community support.
Finally, we see this as a sustainable platform that can be used repetitively as new initiatives are put on the table. Ideally, it would begin as a campaign at launch, with 3 or 4 initiatives such as 'new bike paths,' 'a new pedestrian crossway,' etc. for people to vote on for a set amount of time. When that time is up, the initiative is closed and the winning project is funded. Depending on the city and budgets, we could see several campaigns running a year, or a single campaign - and perhaps people who are not in a live campaign can be contributing to their friends and family's campaigns in other states as a way to stay involved.
Here's a video on how the process works:
Designing an interface that converts data into meaning for users.
When building out the UI of this platform (given our small time frame of 4 days), I wanted to make it visually appealing, easy to see the progress of your votes, and also leverage the powerful data Arity was collecting. Users can stay informed about their movement and transportation data through beautiful visualizations that bring transparency to the data they are contirbuting. Below are some annotated wireframes.
Watch the interface in action:
Finishing the sprint and validation of our designs.
Due to our tight time frame, we presented the concept to Arity on day 4 to get feedback from their product team. We delivered key assets to their team, and next steps include validating our designs through user testing and iterating on our design. Overall the Arity team was excited by our solution and discussed further developing the idea for potential implementation - assets were handed off to their team. Feedback from their team lead us to realize next steps would be developing an implementation strategy and more logistics on the city policy side. Time wasn't on our side for this project, so we would also like to go in and build out more user flows and do testing around perceived value to the user.
Maria Rogers © 2022