Newcastle City Council / University Project

Newcastle's Net Zero 2030 action plan

Newcastle City Council recently set out their action plan to become a non-contrubitor to climate change by 2030. As a result, our team designed an interactive screen located in Newcastle's Metro infrastructure to encourage the use of Metro lines over less environmentally friendly modes of transport.
Installation Design
UI Design
The Challenge
"In this brief you will design a digital service (or artifact/installation/system…) that creates a positive change and contributes to Newcastle’s vision to not be a net contributor to climate change by 2030."
The Solution
Big carbon-emission figures are hard to understand by the public, making it difficult to make personal change. With our solutio, we wanted to visualise and communicate to the Metro users the benefit that they are having on the environment (and other factors) by using that mode of transport.
Understanding the Action Plan.
With Newcastle City Councils’ announcement to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2030, they released an action plan document outlining the key points to target, how they will do it, and at what cost. Looking into this was key to understanding how the council plans to go ahead with achieving their goal, as well as giving us the correct guidelines, information, and limitations to work with in order to create something that can actually be feasible and beneficial.
Initial Ideas
We began sketching out some ideas, exploring how different mediums can communicate information and inspiration to the user, looking into aspects such as sound, visuals, and motion to do so. At this point in the process, we kept our minds open to different technologies being used as to not limit ourself on ideas, and in the end settled on 3 key ideas.
Chosen Idea
Visualising the Metros environmental benefit in a way people can understand.
We came up with the idea of using statistical data about the Metro and its impact to encourage its use. The aim would be to encourage existing customers to continue using the Metro and hopefully interest others too. The idea is to show the environmental impact the Metro is having on a personal level, whether that’s through equivalent trees planted or reduction of carbon emissions, and allow users to see the impact Metro usage has had on those factors.

Existing Data & Competitor Analysis
A really strong selling point for this idea is that Nexus the company behind the Newcastle Metro services already collects a lot of this information. So not only is this kind of idea really effective but if this were a real proposal it would be relatively easy to implement. The downside to this data is that whilst the impressively large numbers are great to many people, to the regular user it's hard for them to comprehend the impact that they are having. As a result, if the user can break down the data to see their own personal impact, it could reap much greater benefits and motivation.
With a strong base idea for our concept, we began looking at existing installations or experiences with similar aspects to ours. We looked at what they do well and what could have been done better so that we can apply those learning to our own concept. Looking into different avenues of competitors such as the use of personal kiosk displays to visual campaigning for road safety gives us a better understanding of how we can communicate and implement our idea.
Proto Personas
With our idea and motive set, we went ahead and produced some proto personas specific to our concept as a way of imagining the various scenarios in which our concept might be interacted with by a user. These can then be referred back to during the development process to ensure we are designing for all possible user requirements.
Nexus Data Collection Interview
We managed to book an interview with Alex Finkel and James Moore who are members of the Data Collection Team at Nexus. Alex and James have extensive knowledge of what data Nexus currently gathers, how it’s gathered and how it’s used, which was essential when trying to understand whether our idea would actually be feasible to create in the future.

They were able to give us a great insight into the data infrastructure at Nexus, as well as reinforcing our concept as they responded to our proposal with great enthusiasm.
Environmental Benchmarks & Trials
James shared research with us that Nexus has already collected regarding the environmental impact of the Metro. Some of the results are shown below and as you can see the Metro is on average the second most efficient form of travel, meaning that people that use it are inherintly benefitting the environment over other modes of transport.
Nexus completed a study trail similar to ours in 2019 in which they tried to incentivise Pop Card usage via gamification. One group was a control, another was given information about their journeys, and another was entered into a prize draw on top of journey details.

As you can see, the two new groups both had a much greater completetion rates not their journeys, proving that the motive behind our concept is reinforced once more.
With our concept thoroughly researched and backed with solid reasoning, we began sketching. Initially we developed on our early sketch of the screen in which the user would navigate through different categories via CTA buttons, and then visualising data separately in each. However, as we thought more about it we figured it might be too much to navigate through and not quick to use. As a result, we sketched out other methods of interaction with the screen and layouts of visualising the data on a single page.
Wireframe User Conversations
Before we committed to developing digital screens, we conducted some user interviews around our wireframes. The benefit of this was it allowed us to have an open ended conversation with potential users, about the installation and possible UI, without getting too caught up in the detail of the design. We discussed our ideas with the users and asked for their thoughts, whether it be regarding the data itself or the way in which we should present it.

We spoke to 4 participants over Facetime and shared our wireframes and early concepts. Each participant was from a different demographic, to create a fair spread amongst the possible user base.
Digital Wireframes
Based on our sketches we began developing low fidelity digital wireframes for our strongest concept. We decided to move forward with a circular slider that allows users to navigate between different categories of information without having to remove their finger from the screen.

The screen will have 2 separate states, scanned in / scanned out. If no users have scanned a Pop Card, the screen navigation will automatically scroll through the collective data benefits of the current Metro passengers. When a Pop Card is presented, the screen will flip to a state offering personal data to the user based off their journey history. From here is where they can interact with the slider and navigate through the sections.
Metro Guidelines & Illustrations
With our wireframes done we felt it was important to look into the design system we should use / create for our installation. In the end we decided it would be best to complete our interface using the Metro guidelines, as this would mean it would fit much more naturally into the environment that the Metro riders are used to.

Furthermore, by designing the installation in the Metro guidelines, the users would feel a much greater sense of trust and willingness to give it a go as opposed to if it was a third-party company. To accompany the data points, we designed respective illustrations to help communicate the category that the user is exploring, further improving user intuition.
Environmental Screen Developments
In the first section of the installation, the user is presented with the environmental benefits. Here we wanted to focus on two points of data: how many trees they have planted based on carbon emissions saved, and how many cups of tea can be made from a kettle relative to the energy saved by taking the Metro.

We believe that by presenting these figures in playful, less morbid ways, it can help embody a positive message as opposed to having negative connotations.
Congestion Screen Developments
As for our congestion benefits, we wanted to get across how much time people have saved in traffic, as well as how much fuel has been saved, both based on average car journey lengths in Newcastle, fuel costs, and average miles per gallon of a UK car. We think by having this section it greatly helps elleviate the benefits of using the Metro over a car, due to a having that personal comparison of something so familiar to Metro users.
Health Screen Developments
We found it difficult to relay tailored data points surrounding the health benefits of using the Metro, so we focused more on presenting general statistics and powerful messages. We managed to calculate how much further a Metro user walks in comparison to those who don't, so we applied an average to give personal data sets in that aspect, however for the second benefit we simply just wanted to reiterate that using the Metro will in fact benefit your health, by using strong communication methods also seen in Think! campaigns.
Marketing Video
To summarise the project and present to Newcastle City Council,we created an informative video outlining key details of the project. In this video, we presented what the concept is, the motives behind it, how it works, how it fits into the everyday lives of a Metro user, and finally how the Council alongside Nexus can implement the screens.

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