A navigation app that uses crowdsourced routes and location-sharing with friends to provide the most comfortable experience for public transportation riders throughout the entire journey.
how might we make people more comfortable
on unfamiliar public transportation journeys?
Sept - Dec 2017
Primary User Research
public transportation in smart cities
As cities evolve, public transportation is in greater necessity than ever. However, the perception of safety, especially on unfamiliar journeys, still deters riders from utilizing transit services. Imagine how anxious one would feel waiting for the delayed bus home in a strange part of town.
power in numbers
From our preliminary desk research, in-city observation, and paper prototype testing, we discovered the main insight that drove our design process: safety through congregation - the more people one is connected with, the safer one will feel.
A friendly navigation mobile app catered to public transportation riders. cozie promotes ease of mind on unfamiliar routes by providing crowdsourced navigation data, status sharing with friends and families, and adopting an amiable companion.
Once you’ve entered your destinations, suggested routes are ranked based on crowdsourced data. By riders. For riders.
Adding your friends and loved-ones to your trip, virtually. Notifying them of your high-level journey status without compromising privacy.
Delivering the most important information at the top of the screen without overcrowding the entire view. Detail-oriented riders, however, can have the full map at the ease of a swipe.
Detecting potential delays in your journey and suggesting nearby spots so you don’t have to wait for that late bus at a poorly lit bus stop. Don’t worry, cozie will remind you when your bus is close by.
At the end of each journey, cozie asks for your feedback to keep on improving. Simply tap on the characters to give as many “claps” as you like.
On the receiving end, see your friends’ trip updated in real time with the necessary information.
how we got started
According to the American Public Transportation Association , increased ridership on public transit has helped to revitalize previously underdeveloped areas, reduce energy consumption, and contribute to a sustainable future; all of which resonates with our imagination of smart cities in the future. However, as urban studies have shown , perception of safety, or fear of crime, prevents many from using public transportation even in areas with low crime rate. Through our literature review, we were motivated to find a way to improve people’s perception of safety on public transportation, therefore promoting increased usage.
 Neff, J., & Dickens, M. (2017) 2016 Public Transportation Fact Book, American Public Transportation Association (67)
 Valera, S., & Guàrdia, J. (2014). Perceived insecurity and fear of crime in a city with low-crime rates. Journal of environmental psychology, 38, 195-205.
into the wild
From our preliminary findings, we conducted an observational study to test our initial assumptions and discover what contributes to the perception of safety. I crafted rideshare service signs as a form of catalyst to see if riders would prefer these services over public transportations under different conditions that might be indicative of safety: time of day, presence of other riders, lighting, etc.
1. The effects of darkness and isolation on people’s awareness of their surroundings are more pronounced when it is late at night
2. People are unlikely to switch to a rideshare service if they’re at a bus stop, unless it is more convenient or if there are significant incentives
3. The presence of one or two individuals in close proximity can be more alarming than in moments of complete isolation
We then began generating ideas that address our observations by running Crazy 8's exercise. From 30 widely different concepts, we narrowed down to 3 concepts that later developed into the main features of cozie:
A platform that users can report public transportation infrastructure issues straight to the city and get rewarded with transit credit
A navigation app that provides the most populous bus routes
A recommendation feature that suggests nearby establishments when waiting for the bus in unsafe area
Overall, we were focusing on bettering the waiting and on-the-bus experience
turning assumptions into insights
We then translated our concepts onto paper prototypes to test it with 12 participants with varied backgrounds and experience with public transportation. We asked our participants to make explicit comments about their thought process while navigating through the prototypes.
participants thinked otherwise
Our initial hypothesis of riders feeling unsafe on the bus was refuted by our participants. From the responses, we discovered that the scope of experience we focused on was narrow and inaccurate. People’s mental model of a bus ride journey starts from the planning process, through the transfers, and up to the final destination, not just the single bus ride.
From the received feedback, we zoomed out and looked at the in-between moments: walking to the bus stop, waiting for the bus, and transferring between buses.
Participant insights pushed us to reimagine the entire journey. With additional analysis of potential competitors (One Bus Away, Google Maps, Uber, Lyft, etc.), I sketched up new user journeys and turned them into wireframes for cozie (FKA sfty)
We then went one level of fidelity higher to develop full-fledged screens for cozie. Given my experience in similar engineering system maps, I took charge of creating the overall application map and interaction wireflow, focusing on creating a logical flow between screens and states.
I took the initiative to animate the cozie character and related scenes to convey a sense of delight and friendliness throughout the journey.
My philosophy when animating is to pack emotions into subtle movements and in as few frames as possible for better graphic performance and less information overload for users.
beyond phone screens
There are opportunities in branching out to different public-facing platforms, including interactive kiosks or screens on board/at stops.
During our final presentation, there were demands for a mode where cozie spots would be automatically shown on your everyday routes for discovery purposes
One of cozie's main features is crowdsourced reviews of routes which require a solid body of users in its early days. From a business perspective, this will require a fleshed out acquisition plan for the first hundreds or thousands of users.
the abuser case
As we dealt with location data, we always had to be critical in looking at ways these data can be maliciously used against the users.
embrace the ambiguity
It took me a while to get comfortable with ambiguity in designing for such a broad topic, but it helped me stay nimble, keep on exploring alternatives and always ready to pivot.
design is no lone journey
I was lucky enough to be on a great team that helped me learn, grow and be a better team player. Because at the end of the day, it's the people that matter!