Sixth Sense Transport: Social Media As a Collaborative Travel Tool



Sixth Sense Transport: Social Media As a Collaborative Travel Tool

Authors

Janet Dickinson, Bournemouth University, Viachaslau Filimonau, Bournemouth University, Chris Winstanley, Lancaster University

Description

With the rise in social networking, new opportunities have arisen to forge connections between people, places and things. The further shift of social networking from desk top computers to mobile devices has provided a ubiquitous media that is transforming travel practice and has the potential to be harnessed to bring about more sustainable travel.
This paper reports on findings from the Sixth Sense Transport project. The project’s main aim is to revolutionise the process of decision making in travel behaviour by using social networking principles to create 'visibility' of potential transport options in time and space. Through a user centred design process a smartphone app has been developed which places tourists from a UK campsite community into a social network to enable collaborative use of the transport resources available.
Campsite communities lend themselves to collaborative activities given people stay in close proximity and share space and resources. A network of some strong, but mostly weak, bonds emerges that might be enhanced by social media to enable travel collaboration. However, social media enabled travel collaboration also presents challenges which are explored in the project and include trust, reciprocity, safety and privacy concerns.
The Sixth Sense Transport Campsite App is under trial at a UK campsite in 2013. Data compiled from the app, user interviews and user questionnaires will provide user based evidence on the utility of mobile social networking as a tool to bring about more sustainable travel.

Abstract

With the rise in social networking, new opportunities have arisen to forge connections between people, places and things. The further shift of social networking from desk top computers to mobile devices has provided a ubiquitous media that is transforming travel practice and has the potential to be harnessed to bring about more sustainable travel. This is brought about not just through social networking that maintains and extends new ties between individuals anytime and anywhere, but through enhanced network connectivity not just with people, but with things. Within the transport domain, the Internet of things (the anticipated technical and cultural shift to ubiquitous computing in which everyday objects, including vehicles, are connected to the Internet and have the ability to sense their environment, generate new information and communicate) has yielded new opportunities to connect networks of people with transport resources such as private cars, taxis and buses.

This paper reports on findings from the Sixth Sense Transport project, specifically work within the tourism domain. The project’s main aim is to revolutionise the process of decision making in travel behaviour (whether it be for the movement of people or things) by using social networking principles to create 'visibility' of potential transport options in time and space. Through a user centred design process, informed by interviews and focus groups, a smartphone app has been developed which places tourists from a UK campsite community into a social network to enable better use of the transport resources available. This includes collaborative use of private cars, collaborative shopping to avoid car trips, revealing local travel problems such as congestion and car parking capacity, and word of mouth recommendations about local tourism opportunities to minimise car use.

Tourists have not generally been considered as a community, yet in many contexts tourists reside together, albeit temporarily, and exhibit shared travel practices within a destination area. This temporary community, with a shared rhythm and flow to their day-to-day travel, provides interesting opportunities for shared use of travel resources. Campsite communities lend themselves to collaborative activities given people stay in close proximity and share space and resources. A network of some strong, but mostly weak, bonds emerges that might be enhanced by social media to enable travel collaboration. However, social media enabled travel collaboration also presents challenges which are explored in the project and include trust, reciprocity, safety and privacy concerns.

The Sixth Sense Transport Campsite App is under trial at a UK campsite in 2013. Data compiled from the app, user interviews and user questionnaires will provide user based evidence on the utility of mobile social networking as a tool to bring about more sustainable travel. Analysis will also explore positive features and negative implications of travel collaboration facilitated by mobile social media.

Publisher

Association for European Transport