Sat 16 May 2015 11:38PM

Mobile Phones and Mobility

PM Paul Minett Public Seen by 236

I'd like to start a discussion about the statistics captured about means of communication as they interact with transportation. Location-aware devices (smart phones) are changing the way people access mobility, and also (it seems) changing their desire to be drivers. Last census, data on telecoms was captured as a component of the 'dwelling', reportedly to know if homes have reliable means of calling in or out during a natural disaster. We hear that at the last moment the question was added about mobile phones, and the focus was on there being a phone that would be available whenever people were at home.

Now the reality of life is hugely different, and the smart phone is becoming ubiquitous and changing the way people do many things, from getting the news, being entertained, sharing details of their lives, way-finding, tracking and sharing exercise, and so on. I hope that the Census can capture this at an individual level. So many policy areas are impacted, none less than the field of transportation.

We hear about the Millennials rejecting traditional models of transportation - not getting drivers licences, not owning cars, preferring to live in the city core, and there appears to be a strong link to the rise of the smart phone. Of course, the availability of the smart phone might also see other generations modify their own patterns (my own household is an example), and the rules of thumb that ruled for generations will be changed - but only with reliable data of the type that only the census can provide.

What do YOU think?


Robert McCallum Sun 17 May 2015 12:13AM

Would also be good to capture main method of communication for use in event of disaster. In Christchurch during the earthquakes and after would have been good if public safety messages were more effective. Perhaps TXT to all area phone numbers or some such would get better coverage than just News and Web.


Paula Warren Sun 17 May 2015 10:57PM

I agree entirely about the implications for transport. Particularly when combined with sensible use of data by the transport providers. For example a smart phone makes PT use far less stressful and uncertain IF the provider has real time information that is accurate and easily accessed. Personally, as a rather technologically illiterate person, I still ring Metlink rather than using the bus stop text system, but I'm sure younger people use their smart phone properly.

I think the connection between smart phones and transport is in its infancy and still developing. The number of apps is increasing, as is the quality of information provision by service providers. For example they currently don't tell you that the bus you are expecting will be full, but I hope that will be an added piece of information in future.

This also affects visitors to cities or NZ. Central Wellington seems full of tourists blindly following the map on their smart phone in an attempt to find their backpackers accommodation. But they are also more likely to be willing to use local transport services if they can find out about them on their phones. I used apps on my phone to work out Sydney buses and trains, which made me much more confident about using them as my only mode of transport for longer trips. I look forward to seeing an app for Wellington that suggests PT routes for particular purposes - to visit Weta Cave and similar attractions, to get a great view of the city, to get to a beach, to get to the best museums/galleries, etc.

For planning purposes, key things to know are what proportion of people have smart phones, how much they take up transport information options on the phones (e.g. apps), what existing barriers to PT/walking/cycling would be taken away/eased by some form of information provision through a smart phone, what effect smart phone use has on their transport choices.


Sophie Davies Mon 18 May 2015 4:03AM

Have just moved this into the "Other" category now as this is the place for any additional discussions :)


Paul Minett Mon 18 May 2015 10:08AM

The chances of other people commenting on this thread is much lower when it resides in 'other' rather than in the topic area that it belongs. If the intention is to have an open discussion, the topic should be there to be seen by people who are interested, not just happened across when misdirected into a heading called 'other'. IMHO.


Sophie Davies Mon 18 May 2015 10:52PM

@paulminett sorry to move the discussion - we're just trying to keep a bit of structure - all new discussions will be in other from now on so people can clearly see they are new discussions. We've invited all the people from the telecommunications and transport into the 'other' group now so they can continue to contribute. This thread will also appear first on the home page so it's visible to people. Thanks for starting up this interesting discussion, we'll work on getting more people involved


Frances Horton Wed 20 May 2015 11:56PM

Hello everyone on this thread - so interesting. I just want to submit [1] that while we look to the Millennials for a glimpse into how the smart phone might work in future, there is still a huge gap in how this technology works for almost everyone else. I am thinking here of the disabled, the deaf, the partially-sighted or blind, the elderly [some have never used a computer, let alone a mobile] and including those who cannot afford, or don't need, a smart phone. Or those who have opted to not take part in on-line technology for any reason. They are still valid users of PT etc.
It's expensive for PT and city administratiors to have to maintain so many different channels of communication to include all users. If we make on-line technology the only, or dominant technology, we will be excluding many.
[2] Robert McCullum raises a valid point about Civil Emergency facilitation - if it's possible we should organise for this throughout NZ. If the census includes a question on this topic and reveals a majority own either mobile or smart phones, could the Telecos be required/requested to do this?


Paula Warren Thu 21 May 2015 3:22AM

Frances is right that there isn't uniform access. But what I'm starting to see is people sharing their technology with other people. So if asked how to get somewhere, or whether they know why the train hasn't turned up, they will use their phones to get the answer for someone without the phone. In the past I generally only carried a mobile phone if I was using PT and wanted to be able to ring Metlink, and it's usefulness for PT travel is one of the reasons I now have a smart phone. It would certaintly be useful to have information on access to technology, so we can be sure that the best coverage is being provided.


Andrea(facilitator) Thu 21 May 2015 10:46PM

Hi everyone, my name is Andrea Lawson and I am facilitating the discussions under the 'other' topic. Thanks for starting this discussion on Mobile phones and Mobility @paulminett. Mobile phones are changing the way people carry out their lives. They may be a crucial means of communication during a civil emergency and are being used to aid public transport and this may increase. As mentioned, there are issues for people who do not have access to online technology and there may be solutions to this, such as sharing. I'm interested in further thoughts on the need for collecting information on mobile phones and what level of detail is needed.