Inspired by Embarq’s Overdrive short docu, we discuss Istanbul’s current situation:
Per day: about 2.25M vehicles cover on average 61.8 km, consume +8M litre fuel and stand still in traffic about 24 minutes. And the total cost of waiting in traffic is €818.000 daily!
Paradoxically there is a wide range of alternative transportation options: bus, dolmus, minibus, rapid bus transit, train, tram, metro and ferry. And many people walk a lot. A TomTom 2012 survey concluded that Istanbul was Europe’s worst congested city.
SO WHAT CAUSES THIS?
In a group discussion we harvest the following challenges Istanbul has:
- Rapid urbanization and population growth: Istanbul keeps growing (now 14M)
- It’s an old city, not the ideal scalable traffic infrastructure
- Steep elevations: the city goes up and down
- Many congestion deadlocks: from the bridges to buses blocking many roads
- Heritage often prevents tunnels as solutions
- Car-oriented culture: single passenger use, personal space and status symbol
- Bad integration of different modes of transportation
- Bad traffic light optimisation
But there are also clear opportunities:
- Improvements in multi-modal commuting
- Decentralising the city centre: at Istanbul’s size local (working) communities seem feasible
- Car-sharing to make better use of passenger capacity
- Improve travel on the Bosporus: ‘Sea Dolmus’
- Make the city open to biking: specific routes do not have elevation
- Park and ride facilities could be created
- Awareness around public transport
This last one was discussed quite at length. It seems that the public perception of how dirty, unsafe, uncomfortable, inefficient public transport is does not really reflect reality. Also commuting time now feels like ‘lost’ time and could perhaps be framed as ‘valuable’. Could an awareness campaign already make an impact or is more needed?
There are many stakeholders in mobility, as in any city. Ranging from citizens from all walks of life, transport and service companies to corporations and their CEO’s. The most interesting remark that is posed is that the local government has nothing to gain by solving the problem: more cars simply means more fuel tax income.
Another point suggests that construction (i.e. roads, new condominiums at outskirts) is a major business for some. The debate however continues stating that this is perhaps only a one-dimensional argument and that the log term socio-economic effects are not considered. Solving the issue could very well be profitable for the government, all depends on what the investment is.
To truly ‘feel’ the problem, the participants form teams and now go on a 1.5 hour Wild Safari interviewing people on the streets of Istanbul and observing behaviour. They are not just looking for the norm, but also for outliers and sketch out different user journeys. Talking to many fellow citizens, some of their assumptions are confirmed, some disproved. Coming back from their field trip each team tries to reframe the initial – quite broad – question:“How might we give Istanbul commuters the most convenient, affordable and greenest transport options through the use of smart technology?”, and craft a more specific one targeted at one particular problem space. Now all teams are set to start developing creative solutions.
In the afternoon all teams go through a series of creative methods that help them towards a specific pitch at the end of the day:
REFRAMING forces you to think out-of-the-box, by flipping personal and popular beliefs.
CREATIVE QUESTION helps you formulate a specific challenge to solve.
FUTURE SCRIPTING invites you to describe on the cover of Time magazine what your success looks like 5 years from now.
TECHNOLOGY CARDS help you work out how your concept might work technologically.
MAPPING helps you create an interaction scenario in 2D space (with lego, magazine cut-outs, drawings).
BUSINESS MODEL CANVAS at this stage helps you to think about the implementation.
All teams were encouraged to work very visually and were supported by sketch artists that translated their concepts into one overall illustration.
7 teams, 7 pitches
- Team Share-a-Ride
- Team V.I.Public Transformation
- Team Superboat
- Team More Time for Life
- Team Plus
- Team Pop Bike
- Team Stardust
(Click on a team to learn more about the concept and who made it)
The pitches approached different types of solutions, showing how big the topic of mobility really is. They ranged from car-sharing, new boat routes, to quality of travel. Interestingly enough many concepts could link to each other and perhaps together form a more complete concept.
The day was concluded with a group conversation about next steps. “What should we do with today’s outcomes and what would be a logical follow-up?” Even after a long day already, everyone was still fired up. Participants found the day very valuable, both from the point of meeting kindred spirits to working on a real city issue creatively. The consensus from the group was that this day was a great start, but it also was a start deserving a serious follow-up to deep dive into more concrete solutions. This would mean a session of multiple days with many more stakeholders present. Also then go to a prototyping stage, with the final goal to pilot a selection of solutions using Istanbul as a Living Lab. As true social entrepreneurs and changemakers they believe execution is essential in bottom-up change.
We are truly grateful for all the energy, inspiration and creativity everyone brought to the table. Thanks!