CoGet @ Future Everything

We are experimenting with our social logistics software CoGet at Future Everything in March:

http://futureeverything.org/events/coget-things-move-people-around/

Based upon the research from the Sixth Sense Transport project that combined social networking with locative media to support collaborative travel practices, CoGet makes a further leap toward a future in which objects borrow our daily routines to move themselves around.

We are running a serious of experimental workshops – see below for blurb

Sign up here to play:

http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/design-informatics-coget-demo-how-to-coget-tickets-10867024563

and this is the link to the CoGet iPhone App:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/coget/id843552747?mt=8

 

CoGet: Things Move People Around

Co-things is a public experiment that uses software to predict where things need to be, and borrows the legs of humans to move them.

The CoGet workshop and experiments introduce the CoGet iPhone software that reveals where things want to go, and asks the public to move them on their behalf. Connected to the net, and able to read the social complexity of a local area, CoGet lets objects control people’s movements by predicting where they need to be, and borrowing the legs of a human to move them.

To get involved and experience CoGet we have two types of workshop that let you become a node in the movement of some ‘thing’ across a small part of the city:

Demo : How to CoGet including street test
The Demo’s are structured workshops that guide people through the use of the software and end in a performance. We will provide a small selection of iPhones for those who don’t have their own.

Experiments: Let’s see if it works
Experiments are semi-structured events in which previous workshop participants or people who are comfortable in using the iPhone app take part in moving objects.

Across the connected city small things play a large part in sustaining the flow between people and places. Cups of tea, bottles of water, books, four way plug adaptors, bicycles, computers and many more objects are the ‘things’ that support the meeting of people and the jobs that they do. However sometimes these things aren’t where we need them, and flow is halted. If things knew where they were likely to be needed, perhaps they could ask passers-by to move them there.

Day 1
10.00 Demo : How to CoGet including street test
12.00 Experiment: Let’s see if it works
14.00 Demo : How to CoGet including street test
16.00 Experiment: Let’s see if it works

Day 2
10.00 Demo : How to CoGet including street test
12.00 Experiment: Let’s see if it works
14.00 Demo : How to CoGet including street test
16.00 Experiment: Let’s see if it works

You can download the CoGet iPhone application for free from the AppStore

Presented as part of City Fictions, a speculative near future city. Institution: transportation.

Internet of Cars: A Distributed Exhibition & Public Talks

Based upon the research context detailed above, the academic team are working with SCAN, an arts/technology agency, to develop an exhibition for May 2014. The aspiration of the exhibition is to offer audiences and communities the potential to rethink how or what a future transport network might be.

Another type of robots (preview) by featured artist Stanza

Partnering with John Hansard Gallery, Southampton; Bridport Arts Centre; Dorchester Arts Centre; Harbour Lights Cinema, Southampton; and Intech, Winchester, we will present a series of artworks developed specifically by artists who have worked with 6ST data both collected from the project in real time and in the past:

Six project proposals have been received from international renowned artists:

Polak and van Bekkum will use live feeds from ANPR traffic data and Southampton shipping data to generate a sound landscape that plays the different paces of transport coming in and out, and around the Southampton area.

Lanfranco Aceti’s artwork Self-Driven assumes that people can be cars. Literally. Aceti will run a series of workshops in which people will adopt characteristics of cars and explore how ‘being a car’ changes how you relate to people.

Halford and Beard’s piece entitled Router is a short poetic film which explores the concept of a road traffic accident blackspot in the context of the routes tracked by the 20 ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Reader) cameras around Southampton City Centre.

Hollington & Kyprianou’s work The Car That Turned is a road movie that’s structure is derived from the patterns that emerge from data collected by the UK’s ANPR system.

Shingleton’s installation Manifesting the flow of CO2 visualises emissions of CO2 based upon live APNR data. As vehicles are scanned graphic clouds are visualised to represent the real-time flow of carbon between Dorchester and Weymouth.

Stanza’s work A New Order Beyond The Fourth Dimension uses robots that will read transport data gathered through 6ST to draw the state of the transport systems around the South Coast.

In addition to the artworks that are distributed across the venues during the two week show, a series of public talks will connect the 6ST research, including experts from the fields of computer science, transport, tourism, psychology and design, with artworks allowing the public and press to connect the abstract with the real, and the science with the experiences of modern and future transport. Using iOS and Android apps the public will be able to spot themselves within artworks, installations and visualisations extending the impact of the work by making it personal.

Fronting Motion from PolakVanBekkum

http://www.polakvanbekkum.com/doing/at-this-moment/fronting-motion/

Salford and Lancaster Universities win national sustainable travel award

Salford and Lancaster Universities win national sustainable travel award

L-R: Stephen Moody of David Richards Ltd (sponsor); Nikki Jones, University of Salford; Dr Sarah Norgate, University of Salford; Chris Winstanley, Lancaster University.

The Universities of Salford and Lancaster have won a national transport award for a smartphone app which allows parents to keep track of their child’s walking school bus and aims to reduce congestion at school gates.

The Modeshift awards are designed to recognise schemes and activities which support and encourage sustainable travel. The Universities were awarded the ‘partnership’ category for working with Transport for Greater Manchester, North West Modeshift and local primary schools to develop the ‘Where’s My Walking School Bus’ smartphone app.

Walking school buses have been set up around the country to reduce congestion on the roads, encourage physical exercise, increase road safety awareness and address the concerns of parents who are reluctant to let their children walk to school on their own.

Salford psychologists Dr Sarah Norgate and Nikki Jones teamed up with researchers Chris Winstanley, Mike Harding and Professor Nigel Davies from Lancaster University to encourage the use of walking school buses by developing the app. It allows registered parents to visually track their children as they walk to school, stopping at scheduled points along the way.

Dr Sarah Norgate, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, said: “The diversity of partnerships involved has strengthened the delivery of the project. This product is designed by users for users, and our vision is to see it launched as an indicator of ‘smart growth’ in Greater Manchester.”

Steve Glazebrook, Smarter Choices Officer at Transport for Greater Manchester and North West representative for Modeshift, said: “This resource is the necessary link for traditional travel choice interventions and new technology and provides a platform for incorporating existing and new sustainable transport initiatives.”

St Hugh of Lincoln RC Primary in Stretford helped to trial the app. Head Teacher Mr Mountcastle said: “It was a brilliant way to encourage the children, not only to walk to school but to use technology in a creative and practical way.”

The project is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and is part of the wider Sixth Sense Transport initiative between the University of Salford, Lancaster University, University of Southampton, University of Edinburgh and Bournemouth University to develop apps that will encourage more sustainable travel options.

For more information about the app, please contact Dr Norgate ats.h.norgate@salford.ac.uk.

Things move people around

So this is interesting for Internet of Things experiences. Objects telling us to where they want to go…

Part of the Tourism Work Package led by Janet Dickinson and Julia Hibbert from Bournemouth University has involved working with visitors to the Tom’s Field campsite in Purbeck. The visitors have been using the Sixth Sense Tourism app for iPhones that let’s users share information about where they are, what they can share: car journeys or collect things from nearby shops for them.

At the RGS Conference in August I got a chance to play and it was a very unusual experience. Usually when we ask for ‘things’ we are in close contact with the system that will provide it for us. For example I can pop into a corner shop and buy a bar of chocolate from the shop keeper. One more degree of separation away from this I can order a bar of chocolate from an online supermarket store and a nice man/woman delivers it – but that’s their job so no surprises there.

But in this workshop 20 or so participants roamed the area around the conference and in pairs they used the 6ST App to request objects to be delivered to them, and picked up tasks to do some delivering. Objects were scattered across a small area of South Kensington including tennis balls, fly swatters and beach balls. As participants moved in to the ‘field’ from the workshop HQ they could pick up tasks to move objects around from one location to another. They could also request objects to be purchased from nearby shops and delivered to a desired location.

The extraordinary part of the experience was watching objects move around the streets in the care of subservient humans. Because carriers didn’t know the purpose of the object, they could be seen carrying an object to another location as though the object was leading the way.

My workshop partner and I requested some chocolates, the request was accepted by strangers also taking part in the workshop and 45 minutes later the chocolates turned up back at base. It is this flow of things that seemed quite amazing – as though objects are able to move themselves into position in the world to help people out.

This is a quick and dirty video of the event and you’ll see what I mean as objects flowed from one space to another with the help of humans:

 

Research context;

The work is part of the larger Sixth Sense Transport project that involves case studies across the domains of Tourism, Logistics and Education.

This is a deeper video describing how the Tourism app works and how it supports collaborative practices including:

  • Provision of lifts;
  • Cooperative shopping for various items (food, drinks, camping gas);
  • Cooperative transportation of equipment (e.g. beach gear, BBQ) for fellow tourists;
  • Recommendations about local tourism products and services.

and a further video of the Logistics Case Study that Southampton and Edinburgh developed for moving ‘things’ around Oxfam:

In both instances it is the flow of things that is particularly interesting for the Internet of Things. How social networks across people allow products to be moved with great ease – or in the case of the RGS workshop even seem to gain a life of their own as not everyone in the network knows what an object is for, or who it is for.

Duncan Shingleton RA to 6ST uncovered this video which provides a ‘thing’ perspective on their movement through the human world:

 

Digital Economy workshop

We’re running the workshop again at the RCUK Digital Economy Open Digital conference in Manchester at the end of November. More information here: http://de2013.org/index.php/programme/workshops/

If you fancy it sign up…

Spaces of Flows 1.0: A working experience using Sixth Sense Transport technology

“the space of flows . . . links up distant locales around shared functions and meanings on the basis of electronic circuits and fast transportation corridors, while isolating and subduing the logic of experience embodied in the space of places” (Himanen, 2001).

The networks that constitute businesses, organisations and social groups often retain consistent patterns of movement and flow across time and space. Tourists visit the same locations in a city, shops use the consistent suppliers who in turn use the same routes to supply goods to the shops, and social networks walk the same streets to the same bars on a regular basis. Although not predictable, these patterns may allow opportunities for exchange and potentially energy saving if networks are shared and commonalities correlated at a database level. The aim of this workshop is to introduce participants to two new smart phone Apps that demonstrate how network technology can use patterns within existing industrial and social activities to reveal new opportunities for sharing.

Proposed Activities & Outcomes

1. Introduction

An introduction to Sixth Sense Transport research work will set the scene of the research challenges that explore how to reduce/re-distribute transport options through a flexible interpretation of time.

2. Physical activity

This workshop will loan smartphones to participants and embed them within a social network using the Sixth Sense Travel App to explore the flow of objects and information across Media City:

The Sixth Sense Travel App, designed for a campsite community, gives people a sense of being in time by enabling users to follow the collective physical traces of other users in the past, present and, based on space-time memories, into the future. This enables users to make sense of network movements so they can reflect on their place in the social network across space and time.

Workshop participants will be set travel tasks based on the collection of objects around the Media City conference venues. This replicates a shopping trip activity and demonstrates how an awareness of others within a social network might create opportunities for collaboration and reduce the need for car trips.

3. Reflection

Following the activity we will re-convene to reflect upon the experience.

The experience will highlight the opportunities for collaboration and reduce the need for car/van trips. Following the activity we will re-convene to discuss how the activity offers opportunities across the Digital Economy and reflect upon the following questions:

  1. What insights did the experience reveal: personal, social, ethical, technical or other?
  2. To what extent did the demonstration of the App offer an insight into the potential for sharing resources?
  3. Can the group identify opportunities for similar application of the technology and how might the approach address the Conference Challenges areas: Sustainable Society, Communities & Culture

The reflective session will also allow an opportunity for the team to extend discussion through the commercial application of the research in the Sixth Sense Logistics App developed for Oxfam. The App is designed to improve the visibility of transport options and facilitate collaboration for Oxfam shop managers and area managers at the local level. The app allows Oxfam’s local communities to better engage and visualise the state of assets and the location of transport both in the present and into the immediate future. In a dynamic and continually evolving business setting, this can help make better commercial decisions.

Technical & Accommodation Requirements

The research team will provide 10 smart phones preinstalled with the Apps, and it is anticipated that participants will work in groups of 2 offering 20 places in total on the workshop.

The team require a room with data projector to accommodate 25 people with easy access to the outdoors.

Any Additional Information / Comments

We anticipate that the workshop will involve a fair amount of movement around the Media City complex so we would ask participants to consider this when applying.

Acknowledgements

The Sixth Sense Transport project is supported by an Energy/Digital Economy UK Research Councils grant. Additional credits go to the wider 6ST team: Cherrett, T., Davies, N., Filimonau, V., Ghali, K., Harding, M., Hibbert, J., Kubitza, T., Lau, M., Mcleod, F.N., Norgate, S., Shingleton, D., Smith, L., Winstanley, C.

References

Castells, M. (1996) Rise of The Network Society. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Himanen, P. (2001) Informationalism and the Network Society” in The Hacker Ethic and the Spirit of the Information Age. New York, Random House pp. 155–78

BBC – Taxi technology: Why catching a cab will never be the same

Interesting and relevant news story from the BBC

The days when people phoned for a taxi or simply hailed one on the street may be coming to an end. Technology is revolutionising the way we catch a cab with a ride now just a click away through mobile phone apps like like Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, Instantcab and Flywheel.

Many of these services are part of the so-called “sharing economy” in which car owners offer to drive strangers in exchange for a “donation”.

California has just become the first state in the US to regulate ride-sharing, a move that has angered traditional taxi drivers.

Alastair Leithead spent a day in Los Angeles exploring some of the new ways of getting around.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24393348

Chris Winstanley at the University of Colima


Chris, Research Assistant and Developer for 6ST Apps was recently in Mexico to present work.

“Christopher Winstanley, of the University of Lancaster, UK talking on behaviour change in the habits and practices of urban transport, in the International Conference of Information Technology 2013, which was carried out at the University of Colima.”

6ST Oxfam App Movie

The second in a series of movies that articulate the research focus of project from the Travel Behaviours Network.

6STOxfam is designed to improve the visibility of transport options and facilitate collaboration for Oxfam shop managers and area managers at the local level.

The app allows Oxfam’s local communities to better engage and visualise the state of assets and the location of transport both in the present and into the immediate future. In a dynamic and continually evolving business setting, this can help make better commercial decisions (e.g. where a lucrative house clearance can be scheduled in place of servicing some donation banks which may not have reached an optimal fill level, or where valuable donated goods can be notified to the community and an appropriate sales outlet identified and transport arranged).

6ST Campsite App Movie

The first in a series of movies that articulate the research focus of project from the Travel Behaviours Network.

The app aims to evaluate the current level of collaboration (social assistance) at Tom’s Field campsite in Dorset and assess the scope for adoption of collaborative travel among visitors. Use of the app supports collaborative practices including:

  • Provision of lifts;
  • Cooperative shopping for various items (food, drinks, camping gas);
  • Cooperative transportation of equipment (e.g. beach gear, BBQ) for fellow tourists;
  • Recommendations about local tourism products and services.

In particular, the project seeks to understand the barriers to social assistance among tourists and explore solutions which might minimise these barriers thus providing more collaborative opportunities to tourists. We will examine how privacy, safety, security and any other issues affect the willingness of travellers to help or get help from others when on holiday. For example, we aim to better understand what personal information tourists are willing to share and with whom, to provide or accept social assistance from fellow travellers.

Walking School Bus app keeps kids safe on school run

Walking School Bus Co-ordinator, Trish Kiernan, with Chloe, Phoebe and Callum.

The University of Salford has been working with Westwood Park Primary School in Eccles to pilot a smartphone app which allows parents to keep track of their child’s walking bus (a group of children walking to school with one or two adults).

Walking school buses have been set up around the country to reduce congestion on the roads, encourage physical exercise and attendance and ensure children can safely walk to and from school without their parents.

Families at Westwood Park have been trialling the app with one of the walking school bus co-ordinators, Trish Kiernan. The app allows registered parents or children to visually track them as they walk to school, stopping at scheduled stops along the way.

Psychologists Dr Sarah Norgate and Dr Liz Smith from the University of Salford teamed up with computer scientists Chris Winstanley and Professor Nigel Davies from Lancaster University to develop the unique smartphone app.

Dr Sarah Norgate, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, said: “Walking school buses are an effective way to promote children’s independent mobility and road sense. With this new application, parents can track the safe arrival of the walking school bus at the school gates.”

Trish Kiernan, Walking School Bus Coordinator, said: “This app also has the potential to be used in schools with attendance issues. Parents can use it to sign their children up to the walking school bus and know they’ve arrived safely.”

Head Teacher Sara Walker agrees: “Children are motivated to see the arrival of the walking school bus on the screen, and to join other pupils on the school run.”

Steve Glazebrook, Smarter Choices Officer at Transport for Greater Manchester, was instrumental in the initial market research phase of the app design, bringing together the think tank of the Greater Manchester districts with the University of Salford.

He said: “This innovation has the potential to increase family motivation for alternatives to the car on the school run, improve child fitness levels and encourage parents’ peace of mind about their child arriving at the school gates both safely and punctually.”

The project is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and is part of the wider Sixth Sense Transport initiative between the University of Salford, Lancaster University, University of Southampton, University of Edinburgh and Bournemouth University to develop apps that will encourage more sustainable travel options.

For more information about the app, please contact Dr Sarah Norgate ats.h.norgate@salford.ac.uk.

6th Sense Oxfam app being trialled in Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Dorset

The 6th Sense Transport Oxfam app was rolled out for its first trial in the Hertfordshire (21/3/13 – 28/6/13) where the area manager, van driver and three shop managers thoroughly bug tested the system and some useful data on system performance were collected. During May and June 2013, it has been rolled out in Dorset (area manager, depot manager and van driver) and Cambridgeshire (area manager, 3 drivers and 7 shop managers) with both trials still on-going.

The drivers are the backbone of the system, using the app daily to log all of their collections from textile and book donation banks, shops and ad-hoc commercial or house clearances. They also use it to record all deliveries of goods made into shops and cascade movements of stock where unsold items are moved from one shop to another.

Initial findings from the Hertfordshire and Dorset trials have shown that a much greater appreciation has been gained on how time is utilised by drivers and how donation banks and shops are performing relative to each other (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Typical time utilisation (minutes) by activity type. (Watford area van driver)

A key benefit for the area manager has been the visibility of bank fill levels over time afforded by the app with the driver logging the mean fill level before emptying at each site. This married to the actual yield of donations in each case has helped to identify bank sites that are under performing relative to others in their area (Figure 2). Servicing intervals are now being revised in the Watford area as a result.

Figure 2. – Estimated net value per visit for donation banks, 21 March to 16 May (Watford area)

Initial findings: Driver, area manager and shop manager perceptions

Using data from the Watford and Dorset trials, the ways in which the app is being and can be used to improve community communication is being investigated. A series of interviews were undertaken with the trialists two weeks after they started using the app to iron out any last bugs, gauge opinion on usability and obtain examples where the functionality has been positively used. Using a five point likert scale (‘strongly agree’ – 5; ‘agree’ – 4’; ‘uncertain’ – 3; ‘disagree’ – 2; ‘strongly disagree’ – 1), the users gave their initial opinions on the app. The three shop managers, depot manager and area manager disagreed with the statement that the app did not provide them with any extra visibility of the driver’s activity over what they had before (1.8 mean score) and their understanding of the drivers daily activities had improved as a result (3.8). They felt that their ability to communicate with the driver had improved (3.6) and that decision making had been better informed with the data presented through the app (3.6) although all recognised that it was still early days in the trial. Understanding of donation bank performance (3.6) and shop delivery/cascade patterns (3.4) also showed improvement but this was primarily by the depot and area manager who need this information more than the shop managers. In terms of understanding how time is used in the business, all managers felt that the app had had a positive affect (4.2 mean score out of 5).

The depot manager commented on the ability to know exactly where the driver was at any time and should be in the immediate future had had an immediate impact on the way the round was conducted.

‘Like today, I can see where he is in relation to Shaftesbury because he needs to go there before it shuts and he was on his way back from Keynesham and if he’s not going to make it back in time I can call the Shaftesbury shop and let them know’.

An Area Manager also found this feature very useful for better planning rounds, because for the first time, live van fill level data are available which helps pinpoint spare capacity during the days activity.

‘Knowing where the driver is and where he is likely to be is enabling us to re-organise the route because we can see where there is spare capacity in the round. We can now see what is in the van in real-time and get updates on where he is in the network through the notification messages. Knowledge of how time is used in the business has improved. The driver is going out earlier since we started with the app and seems to be producing more’.

In this specific case, the information provided through the app showed additional capacity on a specific day which lead to a re-organisation of the round and the addition of a shop service.

‘This is solely due to the real-time information and being able to get the notifications of round transactions to build up a picture of time use.’ Previously, the transport operated very much on an ‘allotted time per task’ basis. ‘The visibility of where he [the driver] is and where he is likely to be is very helpful in planning activity. We are using real information instead of thinking – he might be, he might be’.

A paper outlining how the app has been designed and applied along with initial findings from the Hertfordshire case study are being presented at the Logistics Research Network conference on the 5th September.

Cherrett, T., Shingleton, D., Norton, B., McLeod, F., Forey, C., Dickinson, J., Winstanley, C (2013) Managing logistics with a Smartphone – developing an app for visualising temporal opportunities in the charity sector. 18th Logistics Research Network Conference 2013, Aston University. 4-6 Sept.