The concept of CCAM has emerged as a promising solution to address the complexities and challenges of modern transportation systems. From digital mobility to self-driving cars to smart transportation networks, CCAM holds the potential to revolutionize the way we move from one place to another. However, in the pursuit of innovation, it is crucial not to overlook the most critical element of any transportation system: the needs and expectations of citizens. To ensure that CCAM truly serves the people it intends to benefit, the integration of participatory methodologies is indispensable.

Traditional methods of data collection, while valuable, often fall short in capturing the nuanced preferences and concerns of diverse communities, especially when it comes to people with reduced mobility or with special needs. SINFONICA offers a more holistic approach, providing a platform for direct engagement with citizens and enabling stakeholders to gain invaluable insights into their mobility patterns, challenges, and aspirations.

The project has developed a comprehensive set of guidelines to assist local researchers in effectively implementing participatory methods within their respective communities. These guidelines aim to ensure a standardized approach while capturing the diverse needs of citizens. Additionally, a consensus has been reached on the social groups with special mobility requirements to be engaged and involved in the research (e.g. elderly, disabled, migrants, people living in rural areas and others). By engaging the broader population, the initiative seeks to gather a comprehensive range of opinions and perspectives regarding CCAM.

The methods designed and implemented by SINFONICA are: interviews, focus groups and workshops.

  • Engaging through interviews represents a fundamental tool in participatory research, offering a personalized and in-depth exploration of individuals’ experiences and perspectives. By conducting interviews with citizens from vulnerable groups in society, researchers can uncover hidden barriers to mobility, identify specific preferences regarding automated mobility solutions, and gain a nuanced understanding of the socio-cultural factors influencing transportation choices.
  • Facilitating dialogue with focus groups serves as dynamic forums for collective discussion and idea generation, allowing participants to share their thoughts, concerns, and aspirations in a collaborative setting. In the context of shaping the future of CCAM, focus groups provide a platform to explore complex issues, exchange diverse perspectives, and co-create innovative solutions.
  • Co-creating solutions through workshops represents an interactive and participatory approach to problem-solving, empowering participants to actively engage in the design and implementation of solutions. In the realm of automated mobility, workshops offer a space for stakeholders to envision the future of transportation, prototype new ideas, and collaboratively design user-cantered solutions.

The guidelines for interviews and focus groups have been used in the four SINFONICA Groups of Interest. A total of 130 individuals were interviewed, and approximately 100 actively participated in 14 focus groups. Following the conclusion of this initial phase by the end of December 2023, the guidelines were refined based on feedback from local partners and insights gathered from research participants. With the commencement of the second round of participatory activities, and a subsequent third round planned, SINFONICA ensures a continued refinement and validation of these applied methods. Ultimately, the project aims to produce a robust set of guidelines, thoroughly tested on the ground, to benefit future audiences and advance participatory research methodologies in the field.

The rationale behind this is that it is imperative to prioritize the voices and experiences of citizens in shaping the future of automated mobility. Participatory methodologies such as interviews, focus groups, and workshops offer powerful tools for engaging with communities, co-creating solutions, and ensuring that CCAM solutions are rooted in the lived realities of the people they serve. By embracing a participatory approach, SINFONICA wants to pave the way for a more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable transport future.

Author: Silvia Gaggi, Riccardo Enei (ISINNOVA)

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