By 2050 it is probable that 80% of the world’s population will live in urban centres, and as transport is a very significant contributor to global carbon emissions, as well as road congestion and urban air quality problems, it is important that everyone is encouraged to rethink their personal mobility behaviour. It is particularly important to encourage people to reduce urban car travel. However, our journeys are increasingly disrupted by weather as environmental changes impact on climatic patterns. When transport networks are affected by flooding, wind and extreme temperatures, we need to reduce demand on the network for safety reasons. Information and messaging requirements are different between normal and emergency situations but our individual experiences of disruption may help us to reflect on habitual travel choices and help us to change less sustainable choices and become more resilient.
Using persuasive technologies to influence behaviour change is an emerging area for transport research, though it is well established in other fields such as healthcare. There is growing interest in applying a practical argumentation approach to behaviour change, as it is self-evident that theories of behaviour change and persuasion (which underpin many existing behaviour change interventions, in transport, environment, energy and health, both on and off line) involve making use of arguments.
Using approaches from computing science (persuasive technologies, human computer interaction and argumentation theory) and transport studies (geography, statistics, social science), the ADAPT project will investigate how to influence people to take voluntary action for mitigating and adapting to environmental change. Understanding how constraints and choices interact with the messages in existing travel behaviour change communications is an important research area in order to develop better communications about the benefits and drawbacks of different travel modes in order to develop smart approaches to influencing sustainable behaviour change.
The aim is to better understand how people use information to make decisions under uncertainty and disruption as well as to understand what constitutes effective messages about behaviour change in ‘normal conditions’. This will underpin the development of persuasive but ethical argumentation-based tools for supporting individual behaviour change for sustainable transport through the flow of information directed to the travelling public (in both normal and emergency situations), using available technologies such as Smartphones, web applications, customer information screens and variable message signs.
The ADAPT project is led by Dr Kate Pangbourne, a University Academic Fellow in the Institute of Transport Studies, University of Leeds. Her fellowship is funded by the EPSRC (Grant Number: EP/N030524/1) under the Living with Environmental Change Challenge programme. Over the course of five years Dr Pangbourne will develop a small group of researchers, and is working with a number of project partners to identify different application areas where different messages can be trialled and evaluated. You can follow the progress of the project on these pages.