Two CAMD professors approached our team at Scout looking for a fresh perspective on an ongoing research project on increasing environmental awareness and sustainable behavior among people in their transportation habits.
This project posed a unique challenge: there was no tangible problem to solve, no concrete deliverable to work towards. The project was completely open for us to discover and define on our own.
We decided we needed to hear from real people, so we talked to our (college) friends about the way they use transportation, and then ventured into the public to get a wider perspective to speak with people who use the transportation system on a regular basis.
How might we adapt people’s transportation habits to reduce carbon emissions, while educating them on the importance of their impact?
If we provide an evaluation (long-term or one-time) of a user’s environmental impact of their transportation habits, then that user will be motivated to improve them.
We learned that when being told their behavior causes damage, people become defensive and begin to rationalize. Positive reinforcement was the best approach to this problem. If we identify existing environmentally friendly behavior, even if just small everyday actions, we can affirm and reward this behavior in some way.
We decided to create an experiment where participants run through a simulated scenario to make transportation decisions, along with an environmental assessment.Though a real life scenario would be ideal, tracking data on participants' real transportation habits would too tricky for the scope of the project (maybe one day!).
In our hypothetical choose-your-own-adventure scenario, we start by giving the participant a choice of job opportunities (where the only differences lie in the location), followed by a choice of living options relative to the chosen job. We attempted to recreate the options that would be available in a real life scenario (cost, living, work).
We worked on the content, and worked together to go full-speed ahead on interaction and visual design. We held collaborative sketching sessions and had one designer follow through to execute a final high fidelity design.
In just four short months, our team launched a full research initiative on sustainable transportation, environmental effects, and the psychology of motivation, and concepted and designed a data-driven experiment. We fearlessly sprinted down a path that, while not always clear, was full of valuable lessons along the way.