Simplicity Meets Accessibility
A digitally scannable parking solution that respects the privacy of individuals with disabilities
Parking with a Disabled Parking Card (Blue Badge) ought to be more straightforward, don't you think? By tackling the challenge from the user's perspective, we've developed a smart parking app specifically designed to address the major challenges they face in their daily lives.
For this particular project, I was engaged by the 'Digital Identity' team at the city of Amsterdam. This specialized team focuses on projects related to the digital identity of Amsterdam’s residents. In our case, the project was centered on developing a digital solution for parking permits specifically tailored for people with disabilities.
Public Interest -> Since this project was funded with public money and serves the public interest, we conducted the entire process transparently. We held tri-weekly demos where we shared our progress with stakeholders and other interested parties. This report is still publicly available and can be found here: Projectblog vooruit inparkeren
"Develop a digitally scannable parking permit with respect for the privacy of people with disabilities."
The current parking solution for people with a physical disability is due for renewal. The physical European disability parking card (Blue badge) is sensitive to fraud, and checks with license plate scanning are impossible. In addition, the privacy of the user requires extra attention.
Mike Alders -Team Lead
Demmy Onink - UX/Service design
Carla de Oude - User research
Lucas Arts - Chain Manager Parking and Enforcement, Leiden
Corrie Bengoua - Lawyer, CIty of Leiden
Bas de Boer - Innovation Manager, City of Haarlem
Because we work in such a small team, we almost do everything together. As a UX/Service designer, my focus is mainly on coming up with possible solutions. Making the solutions concrete by creating a clickable prototype. And based on user feedback, optimize this prototype to a promising design.
We discovered that holders of the blue badge faced significant challenges when using their cars to visit different locations
For our first user survey, we spoke to 11 people, of which 8 with a physical disability and three parents of children with a disability. We wanted to gain insight into their general mobility experience, what role this plays in their lives, and the pains they encounter. We also try to get an idea of their digital skills and how they think about privacy.
Five major challenges
Don't know how to park in the maze of parking rules.
Parking policy differs per municipality, and harmonisation is hard to find. Information on municipal sites is also tricky to find. This results in fines or people take the gamble: they don't feel like delving into all the rules
Can't find a (available) accessible parking space.
It is hard to find out where the (scarce) accessible parking spaces are. And they turn out to be occupied very often. As a consequence, people are forced to park in a paid parking lot or to park incorrectly. In some cases, people drive home without success.
Poor access to parking lot: too small, obstacles and high pavement.
Many accessible parking spaces are too small for a wheelchair van. A parallel, high pavement makes it difficult to acces in a wheelchair. A lamppost or other obstacle prevents getting in and out of the car.
Unlawful use and fraud with GPK.
Everyone knows stories of fraud and improper use of the card. This makes some cardholders feel uncomfortable parking in a disabled parking lot, especially if the handicap is not visible for others.
Having to tell the same story over and over again.
People find it extremely painful to tell the same story about their chronic disability at different counters. This is particularly painful for parents of children with a (severe) disability. They are repeatedly confronted with what their child cannot do.
We discovered interconnected patterns in how the blue badge is used
To make sure that we do not lose sight of the end-user when developing the solutions during the design process, we distilled four personas from the user research. In the end, we focused on the persona that was on the road the most, therefore, most likely run into the problems we found earlier.
Making sure we are solving the right problems
During a brainstorming session with the entire team, we came up with ideas to solve the bottlenecks. We first did an exercise in which we try to define the problems so that we are sure that we are solving the correct issues. And then, we all came up with a possible solution and chose the best parts and combined them in our solution.
We decided to develop a parking app focussed on blue badge cardholders
The chosen idea is straightforward. A parking app especially for disability parking cardholders. With this app, people can look up accessible parking spaces and check if they are suitable. They can also park and pay, as with a regular parking app. Or they can prove that they don't have to pay.
Working backwards -> Before we start designing the app, we want to get a feeling of whether our target group is helped with our solution. We created a fake product page in which we pretended the app already existed and showed it to our target group. This way, we could fast-forward into the future and see the reactions to our finished product before making any expensive commitments.
Service Blue print
Engaging with stakeholders to secure their support and gain a deep understanding of the involved processes
Although the basic concept of our app is pretty straightforward, the processes in the background can get quite complex. The solution has to work for different types of users and all municipalities in the country, no matter how they are organized. To get a firm grip on all the processes involved, we created a service blueprint. This diagram visualizes relationships between people, processes, and physical and digital touch points tied to a specific customer journey.
Identifying opportunities to encourage people to opt for using the app
Having a great product doesn't automatically mean the product will be used. To find out what it takes to get people to use our solution, we map out their behavioural insights onto our Behaviour Influence Framework. We define their 'job-to-be-done', and then we look at how they achieve this and how we want them to accomplish this (the desired behaviour). Next, we map out the forces that prevent people from the desired behaviour.
To facilitate easy onboarding, we segmented the app into three tiers of usage
Level 1 -> You get insight into accessible parking rules and possibilities. You don't have to download the app or even subscribe to the service.
Level 2 -> You can park with the app like with a regular parking app. The app holds your blue badge credentials, so you don't have to pay in most municipalities.
Level 3 -> You can add your disability permit to the app. Because some City's have extra demands if you want to park for free, they work with a permit.
Get insight into accessible parking rules and possibilities.
You can use the app immediately after downloading. All municipal rules are available. The app shows whether an accessible parking space is free or not. You can view the lot in advance in a 360-degree view. You can check the dimensions and if there is a ramp to the sidewalk available.
Carefree parking with the digital Blue Badge
Parking is free of charge for cardholders in many municipalities. Now you can add the digital card to the app and proof that you don't have to pay. This also prevents possible theft of the physical card from the car. With the card in the app and the license plate, you can start a parking action on a regular parking lot.
Disabled parking licence more efficient
Some cities require a special permit to park free of charge. It is also possible to load this parking permit in the app. The aim is for municipalities to trust each other's permits, so you only need one permit to park in all municipalities. With the permit in the app, you can park with one of the license plates included in the permit.
To maximize feedback collection from users and stakeholders alike, we developed an interactive, clickable prototype using Figma.
The design has been received with great enthusiasm. Its appeal extends not only to users but also to large and medium-sized municipalities and experts from the parking sector. There is substantial support for the app among interest groups like 'Ieder(in)' and 'Cliëntenbelang'. The design addresses a long-standing issue that has been a priority for various municipalities. While our budget has been fully utilized, the team remains actively involved behind the scenes to bring the app to life. SHPV, GNMI, and RDW have demonstrated their commitment to taking ownership and advancing the project to the next phase.
Update October 2023 -> After some delays, the development of the app is now in an advanced stage. SHPV has taken the lead, on behalf of the involved municipalities, in developing the app under the name 'Parkeren Plus'. We anticipate starting a trial in Eindhoven in early March. The latest updates on this project can be followed via the SHPV website.