KONE co-designs sustainable future with citizens and stakeholders in SPARCS
23 june 2021 | Location: Espoo
Citizen Engagement

KONE is a global leader of people flow solutions with a mission to improve the flow of urban life. In the SPARCS Espoo lighthouse city and as part of community engagement tasks, KONE focuses on co-creating sustainable and energy positive cities with citizens and varying stakeholders. KONE studies citizens’ urban mobility behavior to define and validate new mobility concepts for encouraging people to change their daily mobility habits. To bring the citizens and different mobility stakeholders at the center of co-creation activities, KONE has organized a series of user studies, co-design workshops and concept evaluation activities in Espoo. 

Engagement through different methods

From the beginning of the SPARCS project, KONE has engaged both citizens and other stakeholders in several different ways to join the discussions, ideation, and other activities. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, different methods of engagement and co-creation have been succeeded with the help of interactive online tools. 

Understanding diverse citizens’ needs

With Espoo citizens, KONE conducted a large user study in Autumn 2020 by utilizing a self-documentation method called mobile probing. For eight weeks, ten diverse citizens of Espoo documented their everyday habits and mobility through WhatsApp. The citizens were interviewed before and after the documentation period and they also attended a final workshop where different mobility solutions were ideated. Through qualitative research methods, KONE has gained a wide understanding of motivations and drivers of citizens’ needs, challenges, and behaviors. In the workshops, citizens from SPARCS demonstrations areas Espoonlahti and Leppävaara suburbs, have ideated and validated new mobility solutions. Some of the highlighted needs have been for instance improving micro mobility services, high curiosity to try electric vehicles, increasing trust in shared mobility and effortless registration and payment systems for multiple mobility modes and services. 

Another way of engaging citizens was done through a survey about micro mobility preferences. In total, 120 Espoo citizens responded from Espoonlahti and Leppävaara areas. The survey that was done in collaboration with SPARCS partner Citycon. Through the survey, it was found that the current infrastructure for bicycling and walking in Espoo is very good and many citizens have already experience of electric bikes or smaller electric vehicles. The local improvement suggestions are related to the limited availability of shared city bicycles and safer locking and parking solutions in public transport connection points, as well as improved guidance around construction sites.

Facilitating cross-disciplinary collaboration with stakeholders

To make the citizens’ perspective visible and to bring together different mobility experts, KONE has also hosted several activities with stakeholders representing both private and public sector. Through qualitative expert interviews, KONE has researched the future directions of mobility and energy sectors. Most recently, in June 2021, KONE arranged a business model co-creation workshop with 15 stakeholders from central mobility players, including companies that operate on shared mobility, micro mobility, sustainability, real-estate, navigation and more. The workshop was arranged in collaboration with a business design agency Embassy of Design. In the workshop, the participants identified success factors and obstacles for mobility concepts through interactive exercises and discussion. A co-creation online platform enabled the experts around Europe to participate and present their views about the mobility concepts and validate their potential based on criteria of sustainability, scalability, inclusiveness and customer value. These multi-stakeholder workshops gave insights on the possible partners and ecosystem service providers that need to be included to make new mobility solutions succeed. The value for customers and citizens should not be compromised in the process. 

Sustainable future requires actions from all

In SPARCS, KONE has brought together different actors that all play an important role in creating sustainable future for cities. Both citizens, companies, and city organisations has their own needs but also responsibilities. Mobility industry is rapidly developing as new solutions and services on the market are aiming to tackle the ecological and societal challenges. When it comes to mobility, citizens are often guided by their everyday habits and needs. Changing the daily routines requires learning and initiatives which can be increased by raising awareness and inviting citizens to have a dialogue with company and city representatives. Providing citizens possibilities for testing and trying out new mobility solutions is one way to increase the uptake of novel mobility solutions and drive the behavior change. Later in the project, KONE together with its partners, will experiment new solutions in real environment in Espoo demonstration sites.