Projects for VicRoads

News Item: VicRoads has admitted more than 1400 motorists could have been wrongly fined for driving an unregistered car due a computer glitch with its licence and registration system. Read more Here.

VicRoads had a problem with their software[1] – a technical malfunction that did not communicate with the customer – with disastrous consequences for the customer. VicRoads did send out emails reminders for Registration[2] payments[3] to many who then ended up driving unregistered vehicles[4]. This is illegal[5] – so these people became criminals[6]. As criminals they were then accosted by the police[7]. This is a simple description of this event. It is sufficient to open up a discussion of the existing design of “a service[8] that people in Victoria use to consume mobility”. For more information on the actual events see below:

  • John Fayne ABC 774 Sound Cloud Link here.
  • News Item: “Vic Roads admits stickerless vehicle registration system ‘not up to scratch’, after complaints mount over missing renewal notices” Here.
  • News Item: “VicRoads launches probe after 1432 Victorian drivers wrongly fined due to IT ‘error’” Here.
  • An earlier account of a similar problem with Licences Here.

I am now looking at the possibility that we can undertake a CoDesign exercise to come up with a new way – to reimagine a service surrounding mobility. This is potentially an iterative process of designing. A way that delivers an outcome that meets contemporary standards of expectations of service delivery. 

Or as Fayne says about a future when looking back we are able to say “isn’t it good that VicRoads is now a model agency with no complaints from people”.

In the above account we encounter the existence of:

  1. Software (not apps?)
  2. Registration
  3. Payments
  4. Vehicles
  5. Illegal
  6. Criminals
  7. Police
  8. Service

Software

The VicRoads software is a database of vehicles. The data on the vehicle potentially contains information about the Vehicle. It also merges information about each vehicle with data about a specific and particular human (customer) or firm – the owner.

What other information feeds can be accessed by this database? This is an interesting question that can be activated in the context of improving accuracy.

Let us imagine that VicRoads begins to trust people to be honest[9]. It then is able to handover the management of registration ( and also licence – aka permission for older driver to be allowed to drive) to the customer[10]. Let us imagine then that 80 percent of people will be truthful – I will put Christine Nixon into this category. 20% however will need to game the system – for a variety of reasons. VicRoads then will need a strategy to engage this situation – with multiple strategies – to get the outcomes they want. Let us imagine we have the ability to hire a team of criminals – very Hollywood style – to work up foils for a whole series of scenarios. Let us them imagine that we are able to design a smart system that can activate the FOIL through a very particular set of stages and protocols.

Let us propose that till today I have had no idea why I would need to game the VicRoads systems. I am in effect unable to ever game the system. What we get here is the possibility that I will be able to set up a auto payment system like the one I may have the option to set up for my other services. A very Bingle like app or interface that  we are slowly getting used to within MyGov. Its pre-populated – I can edit and make changes or confirm. So an App will be great to design and prototype [11].

Now to get back to the existing system: It is imagined the database can be queried by a whole series of instruments to generate reports. One report it can generate is about the status of service – has a fee been paid for the relevant period.

Very mobile phone. Only with mobile phone subscriptions you get email, sms/text and potentially hard copy paper reminders through the post. Delayed payments activate a recorded message, which then quickly escalates to a phone call from a real human. Does the software VicRoads uses have this level of engagement with the customer? Good to build the App! [11]

TelstraApp

Telstra goes one step better. They advertise an App based way to self-manage your account. BE THE BOSS OF YOU they say. “Manage your account and services from your smartphone or tablet with the Telstra 24×7® App“. This puts the customer in charge – and so they can pay proactively. Without the interference of Telstra. Why does VicRoads not have an app allowing the customer to self manage their payments? App Again! [11]

In the contemporary period companies activate the proactive customer to work for them. The progressive company co-creates outcomes such as timely payments.

There is a unique philosophical position at the bottom of this narrative – I will state it here.

  1. The Customer is a partner.
  2. The Customer is respected.
  3. The Customer is trusted to do the right thing.
  4. The Customer has to be provided a service better than that being provided by literally everyone else.

The reputation of company as a responsible citizen is then confirmed by the customer. Their emotional value is captured by their expression of loyalty.

There are companies that operate monopolies – which have not, may not have, made the transition to the contemporary economy where goodwill is computed in monetary terms. Government agencies such as health care service providers (hospitals) struggle to make the transition. In an interim period it can be seen that such agencies use the customer feedback to improve service. Such incremental improvements of course mark these enterprises as obsolete. Of course private service providers that have obsolete models of practice close shop when they are accosted by forces of disruptive innovation (Clayton Christensen). Government and state agencies do not have such simple mechanisms of renewal and have to be updated incrementally. They are protected from the forces of disruptive innovation. A very important question then for VicRoads will be. How does VicRoads reimagine itself in contemporary terms? One way is to do a project that uses Scenario Construction. [12]

Registration

Is the notion of registration relevant in the emerging world?

Many people do not use this facility. We can categorise them as a population of people who don’t drive to get themselves about. Who in effect are not mobile or use assisted mobility.

  1. The very ill
  2. The very old
  3. The very young
  4. A group of people who do not have a driving licence.
  5. People who can be driven around.

The future is here as driver less cars. Will this be the new form of public transport? Has VicRoads imagined what will happen to notions of ownership and road use in this scenario? The emergence of driver-less cars has a significant impact upon the notion of ‘driving’. It is possible that in the future there will contain a diversity of mobility options and therefore a few distinct categories of people-vehicle combinations will emerge.

  1. The driverless cars will be common. This may have an older people option, or will permit safe Local Mobility. [LM] This is of relevance to medical aspects of individuals impacting upon permissions to drive/ use roads.
  2. Uber, Lyft and other disruptive services will disrupt successfully. Lets call this Ride Share [RS]. This is the possibility of competitive options of pervasive mobility becoming common.
  3. GoGet and Flexicar membership will be ubiquitous. Lets call this the Share Car population[SC]. This is a membership model – that even today as in GoGet has a free option – that is pay only when you use.
  4. Those taking up cycling will opt out [as in #1] or will drive occasionally and can plan their trips, such as weekend travel[WT]. This is the anti personal transport lobby. The state will build more and more cycling facilities.
  5. A new breed of mobility product will emerge. Lets call this new mobility products. [NMP] See the list at end #11.
  6. A population of people who will opt out of driving. The current generation of teenagers has this culture in some measure. Lets call these the Opt Outers [OO].
  7. A population of people who will want to own and drive. Lets refer to them as the Owner Collector [OC] lobby.
  8. A population of people who have to drive to do illegal acts. (“I don’t think there’d be too many bank robbers who use a driverless car as their getaway vehicle,” he said. For more click here.) Lets call these people the Get Away crowd [GA].

Now we have a question: What proportion of population can be ascribed to each category. I have made a list below – which gives us one scenario.

LM/15%, RS/15, SC/15, WT/15, NMP/ 10%, OO/15, GA/2% – which leaves me with a Owner/Collector, aka those that will drive definitely, proportion of 13%. Are we saying that the population of individual ownership will drop to 13%? In which case we will need to reimagine the ecosystem of Tax as the premises of ownership have to be adjusted to a new reality. Is 750$ a year or 2$ a day the appropriate fee for supporting the road ecosystem? If the quantum of fee collected potentially drops how does the tax/ income stream work. This is a scenario project. [14]

What mobile phones do it they charge you a subscription fee, give you a phone, and then charge you for usage. This in turn transforms the design of the product and the economy of development. For example 41% of people use iPhones (link). Were this to happen to cars we would buy the service, and not the product, and the product would be the best technology. Potentially an intelligent TESLA with its NVIDIA TEGRA Processors [link] is a primitive look at the future of mobility appliances. This is a scenario project. [15]

If we imagine that there exist distinct zones of mobility – such as inner urban [Z1], outer urban [Z2], and rural [Z3}. Then we can start to see the possibility of alternative scenarios of Registration. Who registers, and who manages the registration will change. Also Z1 can see a drop in vehicle ownership. By how much? 75% in the above scenario.

Will that convince the government to close VicRoads and create a department of mobility? Whats is the best future for our children? Another scenario project. [16]

Victoria has approx 4.6 million registered vehicles. How many of these will be shared vehicles or be part of emerging services? Which then leads to what is the best way of ‘taxing’ these? This is another Project – again scenario development.[17]

Payments

One of the dimensions of the relationship between VicRoads and individual owners is a contract to pay a fee for the privilege of being allowed use the Vehicles on roads maintained by VicRoads. Its possible to have, own, a vehicle to look at – and in that instance no fee needs to be paid. There are a large number of such vehicles in Victoria. People who live in this place have this odd habit of owning many vehicles – only some of these being for the express purpose of being used to move about. The others are collected or treated as projects.

The fee that is paid to use the roads – a toll as it were – takes many forms. Vic Roads prefers to keep this privilege simple and charges a flat annual fee. Some other agencies charge on a pay as you go [PAYG] basis – the toll. There is a small amount of chatter about having a PAYG system. How will that work? Good to do a research project to simulate the PAYG system and see how it impacts upon the other “tacit protocols”. Apple convinced the music companies that music consumption through hardware devices – CDs and other material artefacts – was obsolete. Henceforth music would be consumed like a ‘personal radio’. Largely free for the most part – some would pay for a level of control or finicky personal preferences.

Is it then possible for this – fee for use – to be a contemporary service? When compared with iTunes – to consume music – how different is it? This is a scenario project. [18]

Of course Registration is a tax – and needed to maintain the roads. There is a bit of discussion around the need to have an alternative model – “In the end, it’s not important whether fuel tax and other fees pay for roads or not. They’re just another kind of tax and can be used for whatever we as a democracy want it to be used for.” For more click here.

Illegals, Criminals, Police

I am currently not writing this section. Will do this later. Here is a link to a service design project in Scotland by Snook: My Police. While the project of Codesigning the Police Force in Victoria is some distance away – it is possible to reimagine public services such as VicRoads. Or even renegotiate the notions of criminality in the VicRoads space. Of course it may just be that this is too early for Victoria.

Updates

This is a text under development – and I will add more discussion as I go. I am aiming to describe unique projects that can be undertaken to unpick and unpack current practices that are tightly packed into hard bundles. Once we have dismantled the – no you can discuss that – bundles we can start a process of innovation. I have marked 18 potential projects and will open them up one by one.

For now you can leave comments. For more you may need to come back to see updates.

For now I have listed some additional Reading re the FUTURE of MOBILITY – that add to the need to be proactive in reimagining contemporary services like VicRoads.

  1. We see three key trends shaping mobility, both personal and commercial: the move to on-demand mobility, the impact of driverless vehicles and the growth of electric vehicles. More.
  2. Will technological advances and shifts in social attitudes lead to our no longer owning or driving vehicles? More.
  3. What happens to mobility in the next 15 years? More.
  4. What might one expect for the future of mobility in the United States in 2030? Mobility is defined as the ability to travel from one location to another, regardless of mode or purpose. RAND researchers used a six-step scenario development process to develop two thought-provoking scenarios that address this question. More.
  5. In 2008, after I told a global leading car company that they are not in business of making cars, but in the industry of personal mobility, and that car sharing would be an important personal mobility business model of the future, I was almost thrown out of the factory gates. Six years later, the same car company now runs a car sharing business and is in the forefront of developing new mobility services around vehicle usage rather than car ownership. More.
  6. According to the Picture the Future – Mobility research, Australia must focus on social and economic hubs, freight and logistics, alternative energy and intelligent mobility to achieve seamless mobility. More.
  7. Next is an advanced smart transportation system based on swarms of modular self-driving vehicles, designed in Italy. Each module can join and detach with other modules on standard city roads. When joined, they create an open, bus-like area among modules, allowing passengers to stand and walk from one module to another. More.
  8. Twenty years from now, transportation will look a whole lot different. Boston Consulting Group estimates that self-driving cars may account for a quarter of all global automobile sales by 2035. More.
  9. We are experiencing a fundamental shift in the history of transport: the end of the dominance of the privately owned motorcar. More.
  10. AGL toys with idea of electric vehicles for customers. More.
  11. Here is a list of 10 electric bikes made by car companies, placed in the order in which they are likely to come to market. More.
  12. Drivers who have lost their licenses for drink driving and other offences are  another a significant source of electric bikes buyersMore.
  13. Throughout Europe, commuters are ditching high petrol prices for eco-friendly electric bikes. More.

Published by

Soumitri Varadarajan

Soumitri lives in Melbourne, Australia - #probonodesign #codesign #sustainability #patientexperience #quantifiedself #mdg

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