Designing the ideal commute

Even as the world changes humans will continue to commute regularly in urban environments. A future shaped by the climate crisis and the accelerating advent of emerging transformative technologies provides an opportunity and an imperative to improve urban mobility.

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Urban density will thicken as the population grows, and this requires that commutes are designed to serve even larger populations while also working towards solving the climate crisis. To define how we approach the ideal commute, we invited 100+ thought leaders and subject matter experts to join us for a full day’s participatory design summit at the Techfestival in Copenhagen in 2019. Together, we collaborated on finding five design principles to guide us towards designing the ideal commute.

Reduce, adjust, join, include and attract
5 design principlesdesign principles
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#01

The ideal commute reduces emissions from transport and mobility bringing them closer to zero.

By necessity, emissions have to reach zero. As consumers and legislators grow even more aware of this, demands for holistic sustainability solutions will increase exponentially. Paramount to this is designing services that will be the preferred choice over less sustainable options. This entails going much further than just requiring transport solutions to be powered by green energy at the last mile.

Sustainability has to be addressed holistically and this requires considering every touchpoint: From production to the ecosystem at large, ensuring efficient energy usage and reducing consumption; considering things such as logistics, intermodality and management of large scale mobility solutions. The end goal should always be to find the solutions that are collectively most beneficial - for human and planet combined.

The ideal commute works to reduce emissions. To constantly improve the entire service ecosystem as well as the life cycle of individual products with a view to bringing emissions from mobility to zero.

#02

The ideal commute adjusts to give commuters reliable and flexible choices when they need them.

The urban population is gravitating towards conveniently available mobility solutions. We cannot always expect users to choose what is best for the planet when faced with choosing between the greater good and their own individual needs. To approach the ideal commute, these choices have to coincide. That’s why the future of mobility will be shaped by the solutions that have the collectively better impact of shared transport while also providing the flexibility and freedom as that of privately owned transport.

This is a challenge with massive potential for providers of Mobility-as-a-Service. When faced with choice, the commuter will gravitate towards the option that is most reliable, flexible and effective. Who would want to own a car, if service providers could deliver better on the shifting individual preferences of the commuter - be that in terms of availability, waiting time or time in transport.

That’s why the ideal commute adjusts to be there when we need it.

#03

The ideal commute joins mobility services to improve the commute across all touchpoints.

The ideal commute is connected. It joins mobility services to maximise the potential for systemic and incremental improvement. At all touchpoints, every type of cargo, across silos and means of transportation, the ideal commute connects to optimise a city’s throughput. From the user experience to the learning of transportation patterns, there is an ongoing opportunity to improve the services delivered, the efficiency of energy consumption and the availability for the user. Therefore, connecting services will also be key for the Mobility-as-a-Service market, as we work towards the ideal commute.

Knowing when and what to deliver requires smart use of data and user interaction. But it also requires strict respect for the user’s privacy. To optimise, service providers and stakeholders need to cooperate across silos, means of transportation, and to challenge typologies. For instance, private mobility providers should work with public transportation authorities to give the individual as well as the city the right mobility solution and ensure seamless and convenient shifts between the different options provided. Connecting to support rather than to compete with a view to optimising a city’s throughput.

The ideal commute is approached when mobility services join with a view to share and improve.

#04

The ideal commute includes everyone.

Making commutes accessible is not only a question of convenience but also a question of demography and personal capability. As we design solutions for everyone, we should be open to holding the definition of everyone to the highest standard. The solutions on offer should always consider the user’s instinctive and physical potential and restrictions.

Commutes are to be provided at costs that are reachable for everyone and they should also be intuitive, safe and flexible when catering to different ages, genders, single users or groups. Some users might live in less reachable locations, even urban ones, and services should consider how these can be reached. Another aspect to consider is whether the solutions cater to various mindsets that go beyond commuters, such as families, tourists and ad-hoc users.

The ideal commute is open to everyone.

#05

The ideal commute attracts to be the preferred choice of the user.

Designing for a better more sustainable future is fruitless if we do not make sure that the best options for the planet and society are also the most desirable ones. As we design, we should strive to build solutions that reflect people’s preferences and desires — solutions that simply are nice. The ideal commute is an evidently better choice because it delivers attractive tangible or intangible value to the commuter.

Sometimes the things we desire are icons that are unlike anything we’ve experienced before, other times we desire something surprisingly simple and convenient, even invisible. The challenge to overcome with the ideal commute is designing something meaningful and desirable. This could be a design that defines typologies or an ingenious simplification.

The ideal commute is desired above its alternative. Maybe for its looks, its experience or its uniqueness. That’s why our final principle is, that the ideal commute attracts.

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