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Ideas from the MIT Sustainability Workshop with Continuum Innovation


Description

 

INTRO

On Friday, 4/27 a fantastic team from Continuum Innovation led a workshop with attendees of the MIT Sustainability Summit to think of ways to reduce emissions from personal transportation.  As a global innovation design consultancy, Continuum is used to working with companies to develop new products and think of clever solutions to old problems.  To give the workshop participants a sense of exactly how they operate, they prompted participants to imagine that they were actually working with a real company on a project.  To be more specific, the Continuum team had us envision that we were working with the Segway company to think of new ways to reduce emissions from personal transportation.

After being split up into small groups and instructed to take our own unique approaches to the problem, individual participants then produced a rough sketch of an idea for what the Segway company could do that would lead to a reduction in emissions from personal transportation.  Interestingly, though we did not explicitly talk about the idea as a group, more than half of the workshop participants converged on different versions of essentially the same idea:  A Segway Share program.

 

SEGWAY SHARES

Of those that suggested some version of a Segway Share program, there were two main ways that people envisioned such a program:

1) Some participants envisioned a Segway Share program much like ZipCar, where consumers could pay to rent out Segways to use freely throughout the city.  Some participants even suggested that Segway enter into a partnership with ZipCar.

2) Some other participants envisioned a Segway Share program much like municipal bike share programs.  In this scenario, consumers would pick up Segways from subwan and bust stops or other central locations to use and would then drop the Segways off at a central location near their intended destination for other consumers to use later on.

In either scenario, this sort of program could help Segway to expand its market and, in doing so, increase the number of people who use sustainable means of personal transportation.  In particular, a Segway Share system could attract many middle-aged, elderly, and disabled people who are unable or unwilling to ride bicycles while commuting.  By offering easily accessible Segways near other public transportation hot spots, these consumers would now have an easy, convenient means of commuting without depending on automobiles.

In addition to the basic idea for some sort of a Segway Share program, several workshop participants also converged on extensions of the idea including:

1) A solar Segway charging station, so that Segways are recharged using solar power whenever they are not in use,

2) An iPhone app to determine where shared Segways are currently available, which would further increase the ease and dependence of a Segway Share program, and

3) A formalized lane for Segway users either in conjunction with or adjacent to existing bicycle lanes. 

 

CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE WORK

In less than an hour, our workshop participants thought of a number of compelling ideas for how Segway could help to reduce emissions from personal transportation, and it is particularly interesting that so many participants converged on such similar ideas.  We see a lot of potential in this idea and in Continuum's method of collaborative idea generation.  It is our hope that workshop participants and CoLab community members will offer comments and suggestions to expand upon this and other ideas for how Segway can help to reduce emissions from personal transportation. 

Summary


Category of the action

Reducing emissions from transportation


What actions do you propose?

 

INTRO

On Friday, 4/27 a fantastic team from Continuum Innovation led a workshop with attendees of the MIT Sustainability Summit to think of ways to reduce emissions from personal transportation.  As a global innovation design consultancy, Continuum is used to working with companies to develop new products and think of clever solutions to old problems.  To give the workshop participants a sense of exactly how they operate, they prompted participants to imagine that they were actually working with a real company on a project.  To be more specific, the Continuum team had us envision that we were working with the Segway company to think of new ways to reduce emissions from personal transportation.

After being split up into small groups and instructed to take our own unique approaches to the problem, individual participants then produced a rough sketch of an idea for what the Segway company could do that would lead to a reduction in emissions from personal transportation.  Interestingly, though we did not explicitly talk about the idea as a group, more than half of the workshop participants converged on different versions of essentially the same idea:  A Segway Share program.

 

SEGWAY SHARES

Of those that suggested some version of a Segway Share program, there were two main ways that people envisioned such a program:

1) Some participants envisioned a Segway Share program much like ZipCar, where consumers could pay to rent out Segways to use freely throughout the city.  Some participants even suggested that Segway enter into a partnership with ZipCar.

2) Some other participants envisioned a Segway Share program much like municipal bike share programs.  In this scenario, consumers would pick up Segways from subwan and bust stops or other central locations to use and would then drop the Segways off at a central location near their intended destination for other consumers to use later on.

In either scenario, this sort of program could help Segway to expand its market and, in doing so, increase the number of people who use sustainable means of personal transportation.  In particular, a Segway Share system could attract many middle-aged, elderly, and disabled people who are unable or unwilling to ride bicycles while commuting.  By offering easily accessible Segways near other public transportation hot spots, these consumers would now have an easy, convenient means of commuting without depending on automobiles.

In addition to the basic idea for some sort of a Segway Share program, several workshop participants also converged on extensions of the idea including:

1) A solar Segway charging station, so that Segways are recharged using solar power whenever they are not in use,

2) An iPhone app to determine where shared Segways are currently available, which would further increase the ease and dependence of a Segway Share program, and

3) A formalized lane for Segway users either in conjunction with or adjacent to existing bicycle lanes. 

 

CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE WORK

In less than an hour, our workshop participants thought of a number of compelling ideas for how Segway could help to reduce emissions from personal transportation, and it is particularly interesting that so many participants converged on such similar ideas.  We see a lot of potential in this idea and in Continuum's method of collaborative idea generation.  It is our hope that workshop participants and CoLab community members will offer comments and suggestions to expand upon this and other ideas for how Segway can help to reduce emissions from personal transportation. 


Who will take these actions?


Where will these actions be taken?


How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?


What are other key benefits?


What are the proposal’s costs?


Time line


Related proposals


References