What was Ideas in Transit?
Our five-year project began in October 2007 and was supported by three major sponsors of
transport research under the Future Intelligent Transport Systems initiative.
Ideas in Transit took the 'bottom up' approach to discovering and promoting innovation
in transport. We followed the trend in co-operative and collaborative approaches to create innovative new products and services with users of transport; our "User Innovators".
Ideas in Transit was featured in May 2010 in Local Transport Today.
Why Ideas in Transit?
'User Innovation' recognises that consumers are no longer passive recipients but are adaptors, inventors and innovators
(as recognised by von Hippel & Leadbeater). We witness this in co-creation in software, leisure fields, public services
and journalism. And the opportunity for user innovation to engage the masses is vastly improved via the trends in online
communities and mobile communications. This global connectivity has spawned user-generated content through
conduits such as wikis and blogs.
Work that looks at Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) typically follows a top-down approach, from companies
(like satellite navigation systems providers) or from government.
Ideas in Transit asserted that there may be significant, but largely over-looked, sources of innovation too - particularly
where transport users innovate upon existing forms of information or communications technologies.
Perhaps in a different way than their creators intended.
Hence a bottom-up approach. By engaging with these 'User Innovators' Ideas in Transit sought to explore new opportunities
for existing technologies to address challenges facing transport systems and users.
- to study the creativity and innovation of users and understand how this may be harnessed to advance Intelligent Transport Systems;
- to use a mixed method approach to work out how user innovation related to ICTs can be searched for, identified,
understood and potentially exploited;
- to develop a Wiki portal to catalogue instances of innovation and enable cross-comparison of case studies;
- to take a selected number of innovations and support them towards commercial exploitation via incubator funding; and
- to promote our findings in the ITS field.
Our Mixed Method Approach
There were two key elements to the project - an ITS Observatory and a reserved budget for taking forward innovations.
The ITS Observatory was a metaphor for our mixed-method approach to better understanding user innovation. We examined the context for innovation in terms of people's everyday lives and travel. We investigated and identified the motivations behind and the barriers and enablers to user innovations emerging and progressing.
Incubator funding, as a result of the GeoVation Challenge into 'How can we improve transport in Britain?', was made available from the project budget to support six winners in the development of their ideas.