Jun 062013

So, yesterday I wrote how I was taking 48 hours to work with a team to prototype a solution for the public sector, as part  of Global Gov Jam 13.

Our team – Kim. Gaby, Vlad, Khoa, Catherine and I – worked on a project described as ” Make Perth’s transport and housing accessible to everyone. Make Movement Easier”.

We rapidly prototyped over 10 ideas in 10 minutes by drawing them only. We then took just one of those ideas and rapidly prototyped 10 ways to make that happen. We spent the rest of the morning working up three ideas, before going out to a shopping centre to road test them with real people and returning to the venue and killing off two of our darlings. For the next 24 hours we focused on a single solution.


We decided pretty early on that we wanted to focus on the train system and, given that it would take a lot of resources to cope with the uneven demand during the day that causes crowded and delayed trains at rush hour, we wanted to decrease the pain of the commute for regular commuters. We wanted to encourage more people with regular journeys to take the train to free up demands on the road system.

We killed off an idea to provide regular commuters with free wifi, special movie/music content exclusively to use on the train, pre-ordering of coffee to be delivered at the exit station and “frequent flyer” kinds of bonuses with partners at their destinations. I wasn’t so sad to see that one go. I found the other dead idea – which would have involved specially built big-arsed carriages that not many people could use and re-engineering the train energy supply – much more fun and attractive. We had “bicycle only” carriages where someone could see via an app before they got to the station whether there was space for their bike, then slot the bike into a special stand that allowed them to CONTINUE PEDALLING AND HELP TO POWER THE TRAIN. The app would connect to the “passport” function on their iPhone and let them on and off the train without doing more. It would tell them h.m. KJ they had burnt and how much power they had generated. It would have a leader board with other commuters so that they could regularly “race” other people and get rewards (free transport, coffee vouchers) each time they generated a certain amount of power. The power would also be used to generate hot water for extra showers installed at extra bike parking spaces at stations.


The idea we ended up going with was the Pop Up Hub . It is a reconfigurable community space that makes the railway platform a destination in itself, and gives a much more enjoyable experience to people who had to use the train anyhow. It starts with a basic structure that provides free wifi, work tables, a meeting space, coffee and recharge stations for electronic devices. Depending on the station location, demographic and time of year, other “hubs” can be connected to the core hub – for example a retail hub or a school holiday activity hub or a business hub. The sattelite hubs do not need electricity, plumbing etc independently because that is already supplied in the basic core hub. We recognised that actually local government support would be key to making the project successful so pitched it toward them as a place where flexible, one-off projects could be trialled without huge amounts of procedure and red-tape, and where local government could connect with their community.


We used personas to look at some of the activities that could take place there. We decided to set our hub at the Stirling train station. Jane,70, had set up her iPad cover store in the retail hub. She usually sold on Etsy only but for one month would have a place where people could see what she offered. When not selling she could maintain her site using the free wifi. She taught a craft class in the nearby school-holiday hub as an in-kind contribution. Julie, a mum was there to have coffee with a friend who had taken the train from Kelmscott while one of the kids attended a school holiday activity run by Ahmet, a library officer, and the other played Minecraft using the free wifi. Julie also signed her son up to the local soccer club that was having a registration day at the hub. Ahmet later helped Wayne, a digital consultant, to do some business research on his laptop while he waited for Joe, a mobile app developer from Joondalup , to come for a business meeting at the hub so they could avoid having to meet in the city.


Other projects from other groups  are outlined on the Perth GovJam13 project page. We all worked like crazy to prototype and make movies for upload to the site by the 3pm deadline (It helped having an architect to draw the concept up). We didn’t have time to check the audio at all on our movie, just uploaded it JUST after the deadline. We then had 2 minutes to pitch to the group and two industry experts. The experts had 3 minutes to ask us leading questions. The other projects were:

  • Jumping Jack Dragon a game to let kids know how government works
  • Bang! an app to track and manage one’s household resource consumption and eco-footprint
  • Cardboard iPads an app to federate local government information into a single spot
  • My Life a plan for a single ID number for each person across all level of government with all information connected to this in one spot
  • In Cahoots an exchange and incubator for community projects


Our project was voted the project that participants would most like to see happen, while the Cardboard iPads project was voted as the project that would be most do-able.

You can see more about the Pop Up Hub at the project page. Or, you can watch the (umm…sometimes a little hard to hear but you get the idea)  3 minute movie:


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  3 Responses to “GovJam – Making train journeys more engaging to encourage more regular commutes”

  1. Totally love that bike-the-train idea.

  2. At GovHack it was really interesting to see what ideas were discarded early on in the process. There were some real gems that didn’t get taken further.

  3. Thanks for Jamming and for blogging!
    On those discarded ideas – they are not dead. I always say, it’s not the projects which come out of a Jam which are most interesting; it’s the ones which come after… 🙂

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