LinkLocal is an app that borrows much of the functionality of 6ST Travel and allows people to share resources. The app was used across the Wester Hailes community in Edinburgh to better understand how it could support sharing within the community. The field work was part of an Arts and Humanities Research Council Connected Communities grant: Communities within Spaces of Flows.
The Communities within Spaces of Flows project emerged at a time of public sector spending cuts in which services were stretched and there was a government call for a return to localism to address well-being needs. Linklocal was deployed to understand how a collaborative travel app might extend place based community support networks to unlock community potential to achieve well-being gains.
Linklocal is based on the 6STCampsite and 6STTravel apps. It offers much of the same functionality:
- a map interface to show the user's current location and allows users to add places of interest
- a heat map which visualised the collective travel patterns of all users over time on the map
- a message system that enables users to offer or request help
However, Linklocal goes beyond travel collaboration and users were encouraged to share in other ways, for example, through offering items or time.
For more information about Linklocal, take a look at our project leaflet
Participants were recruited through a partnership with the West Edinburgh Time Bank. Eleven participants were recruited, with nine loaned project iPhones and two having the app installed on their own phone. Each participant was briefed on the nature of the trial, given an introduction to the Travel App and a user manual. Participants registered with a username, password and a unique code that joined them to the social network. The participants were encouraged to use the app for the duration of the trial (approximately seven weeks in April and May 2014). Contrary to previous trials, car users were in the minority (n=1). A £10 shopping voucher was offered to all participants at the start of the trial as recompense for their time. Additional incentives were offered to encourage app use later in the trial. A focus group was held after five weeks and five participants were interviewed at the end of the trial. App usage data were compiled by the app itself, which logged all activity on a secure computer server, and through researcher observations.
Users were positive about their experience of Linklocal and the potential for the concept to succeed in the future, however, as in earlier trials, offline activity facilitated by the app was limited. Active use included lift sharing, help being offered and accepted and information sharing. In addition to the findings of the 6STCampsite and 6STTravel trials, the key issues to note are:
- The trial context was limited by the number of participants. It is recommended that any future trials should have a minimum number of 20 users.
- User communication and information sharing was a positive feature of the app.
- As per the 6STCampsite and 6STTravel trials, offers of help exceeded requests for help. Users taking part in the trial all volunteered to do so; they were predisposed to offering help. Most users did not consider themselves in need of help.
- Incentives were controversial as some users felt these conflicted with the ethos of the Time Bank where help is offered freely.
- Lead users can facilitate app use, however, an 'agreement of expectations' should be set with lead users so that their role is unambiguous.
Dickinson, J., Cherrett, T., Hibbert, J., Winstanley, C., Shingleton, D., Davies, N., Norgate, S., and Speed, C. (2014).
Fundamental challenges in designing a collaborative travel app. (Submitted to Transport Policy).
We understand the extent to which behavioural change in transport habits and practices can be facilitated through the creation of a new form of ‘transport network’, based on extending social networking principles to transport users.
The project has developed a suite of mobile phone apps for each of the corresponding research contexts. Watch videos and read details of the projects aims, key findings and outputs.
The 6ST team comprised researchers from the universities of Southampton, Edinburgh, Salford, Bournemouth and Lancaster.