Melbourne, Australia’s fastest growing city, has a comprehensive transportation network that offers trains, trams, bicycles and car travel as viable modes for urban mobility. However, its system has not kept pace with the city’s rapid growth and as a result, severe congestion, and longer travel times are common. Critical to the city’s resilience building efforts, this is negatively impacting the city’s social systems – with opportunities for civic engagement and community participation undercut by the hours residents must spend commuting.
To invite innovative solutions that address the dual concern of traffic congestion and social isolation, Melbourne’s office of the city’s Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) and its partners set up a challenge. Teaming up with with 100RC Platform Partner Citymart, the challenge sought “creative, feasible and impactful ideas to address these complex and connected issues, and bring new thinking to address the challenge problem: to help reduce transport congestion, and/or make the experience of travel more socially fulfilling, thereby making an important contribution to our city’s resilience.” Citymart, a New York-based company with a global reach, empowers city officials to better serve their communities through access to data, insights, and peers.
The challenge was open from March 29, 2017 to June 23, 2017. The challenge received more than 100 submissions from individuals and organizations across Australia and around the globe, including from the USA, India and Europe. Proposed solutions involved ridesharing, user insight, reward systems, social well-being zones located within public transport precincts, and innovation in transport technologies.
The joint winners of the Resilient Melbourne Citymart Challenge, Freewheeler and Joinwheels, are both smartphone apps that encourage people to change how they travel. Freewheeler uses mobile technology to automatically track commutes and reward healthy travel choices. Joinwheels is a peer-to-peer e-hailing app that encourages like-minded passengers with similar routes and destinations to find and connect with co-travelers.