The climate crisis requires an enormous transformation in our society, economy and in the development of future climate-friendly technologies. This also includes new concepts to shape the mobility of citizens. Therefore, the adminisitration of Erding commissioned Inovaplan GmbH and XPACE GmbH to analyze the offer for cyclists in the region, to develop a new concept for everyday bicycle traffic and measures for an attractive, regional bicycle traffic offering.
As part of the project, XPACE GmbH developed a concept and a prototypical app for cyclists in the district of Erding. The cycling app is intended to serve as an interface between citizens and their communities in order to jointly improve the cycling offer in the district of Erding in a participatory manner. Through the use of the cycling app, implicit and explicit feedback from citizens on the traffic infrastructure for cyclists will be collected. The knowledge gained from this can be used in the future to support decision-making and planning processes in the expansion of the traffic infrastructure. At the same time, gamified approaches are intended to encourage cycling and raise awareness of one’s own contribution to sustainability through cycling. The app is not intended to be an alternative to well-known mapping applications (such as Google Maps, OSM or Komoot). Nor was it intended to be a “fitness” or “cycling” app. The focus of the app should essentially be on the interface function and participation of citizens in the municipal development process. This should be made possible for citizens as low-threshold as possible and thus the added value for the municipalities (primarily the collected analysis data) can be designed in an optimal manner.
In a first step, a market and feature analysis of 10 known cycling apps was conducted to discuss potential functionalities for the cycling app. The results were adapted to the app with the district of Erding and entered into a backlog for development. Using the agile approach according to the SCRUM process model, the requirements were regularly reviewed, specified, prioritized and expanded with the district.
From a technical perspective, the app was to be developed as a Progressive Web App (PWA), but also offer the possibility to be offered on native app stores later on. After comparing a number of different frameworks, the Ionic framework was chosen in combination with Vue.js. This enabled both a fast initial development progress, the use of native functionalities of the operating systems Android and iOS via the “Capacitor Native Runtime”, and a platform-specific user interface, all from one code base.
After defining the basic technologies and requirements, our experts started development. The implementation process was done in an agile fashion, so that every 4 weeks (after a sprint) we provided our customers with an executable version of the app that contained the current functionality. This allowed our customers to experience the project progress for themselves and report feedback and change requests to us at an early stage. After about half a year, the basic functionality of the application was fully implemented and a test phase in a small selected group of users was targeted for the spring of the following year. For this purpose, the necessary infrastructure was set up and functionalities for user administration were implemented.
The developed App offers five functionalities at the current time:
- Map functionalities: The user can create and display routes. Furthermore, stations and information of the public transport can be viewed.
- Cycling activity statistics: Statistics on recorded and cycled routes are evaluated. The display includes the kilometers cycled, the time cycled and the associated tons of CO2e saved that users would have emitted if they had traveled the same distance of kilometers by car.
- Automatic route recording: Users can automatically record routes and thus conveniently improve their cycling statistics.
- Manual route recording: In addition, users can manually record routes.
- Reporting: Users can provide feedback as well as report issues in the cycling infrastructure to the administration of Erding.
The app’s potential is far from exhausted. Community and gamification functionalities are planned to increase the utility value for municipalities and citizens. Campaigns and contests are also considered an attractive functionality. In addition, the collected data offers an automated analysis for the improvement and planning of the traffic infrastructure. In particular, methods from the field of artificial intelligence (especially machine learning) offer high potentials.