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E-Portal

A platform to apply for electric vehicle charging point

MA 2020/2022
Keywords
Sustainability, Co-creation, City as a platform
Overview

To meet the climate goals, over half of the cars on the UK's roads need to be EVs by 2032. We intend to design a platform that will allow residents to apply for the installation of public charging points.  The platform will act as a bridge between the residents and the council. Although most UK councils already have similar application channels, different councils have different platforms, processes and criteria, which causes confusion for users. In the service ecosystem built under the prototype and vision we have designed, users will be able to add an application directly on a map with a click, and the council will share the results of the data collection. Ultimately, users will have a unified platform for applications, communication, checking progress and viewing technical and legal constraints.


We hope to convince councils to adopt this platform, with the potential benefits of increasing insightful feedback by weakening barriers of requesting and reducing the cost of dealing with user enquiries and complaints by increasing transparency of information. EV & potential EV users are very keen to co-creatively participate in the planning of public charging points. With proper guidance, people are immeasurably creative.

Collaboration

The UK government’s transport decarbonisation plan is a world-leading ‘greenprint’ for building a net-zero transport system by 2050. The Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) wanted to encourage more people to switch to EVs. So, PA CONSULTING teamed up with the Royal College of Art to design the blueprint for an emblematic chargepoint as recognisable as Britain’s red post boxes or black cabs.

BACKGROUND

We intend to design a service to help the massive uptake of EVs both infrastructurally and mentally ready.

The UK government’s transport decarbonisation plan is a world-leading ‘green print’ for building a net-zero transport system by 2050. The key to delivering on the plan will be a switch from petrol and diesel cars to electric vehicles (EVs) – replacing all cars with EVs would cut the country’s total carbon footprint by 12 per cent. That’s 42 million tonnes of CO2 per year. The Office for Zero-Emission Vehicles (OZEV) wanted to encourage more people to switch to EVs. By designing a concept that makes charging easy, safe, and practical for as many people as possible, the government aimed to shift how people think about electric vehicles and get more people choosing to drive them.

Research

In our initial research, we interviewed 35 people in total. And we differentiated them as follows: EV users with and without private chargers, non-EV users including petrol and diesel car users, and residents who don’t have a car. We have three main findings:


  1. Nearly four-fifths of EV users think the setting of public chargers is not reasonable enough. They indicated that some places should have installed more public chargers, and also, some public chargers have barely been used or are difficult to find.  
  2. 8 out of 9 EV users without private chargers, don’t have a public one near their residence, while they wish to have one.
  3. Additionally, 7 non-EV users show unwillingness to have public chargers installed around their residence, due to the concerns of making the streets crowded, or occupying parking space.  

To precisely meet EV users' needs, we came up with a hypothesis that, what about allowing users to actively participate in the planning, a co-creation instead of passive acceptance?



We had 3 workshops with 3 councils. Although most UK councils already have similar application channels, different councils have different platforms, processes and criteria, which causes confusion for users. A barrier of information between councils and residents still exists. Councils lack users’ data while residents are unaware of, or lack the proper communication channel to propose their requirements.

DESIGN DIRECTION

How might we build a unified, easy-to-use and accessible platform for EV users to apply for public charging points? 


How might we use this platform to help councils manage demand more efficiently, reduce operational costs and increase information transparency?

Prototype & User Testing


The test's purpose was to verify whether there was such a need by collecting data on user applications and whether user participation in co-creation could provide insightful ideas that could actually help in the planning of public charging points. Users simply draw a circle within the webpage in the questionnaire link or on a paper map to represent where they would like to have a public charger installed. They can also leave additional information, such as the reason for the recommendation.


When the application is complete, we will tell them an approximate hypothetical time and then we divide them into two groups. The first group will know the entire installation process and will be able to see the corresponding time that each process will consume; the second group will only know that it takes about 6 months to install it. The user can then rate the overall experience of this service process.


We found some very interesting results: firstly, most of the users were very enthusiastic about being able to actively participate in the planning of the public charger, and from their comments, we could know some of their priorities. For example, this is what one person said, he thought it made perfect sense for the charging points to be close to some places with entertainment facilities, and then he pointed out that Embankment Place has a perfect location under the bridge for having a charging point, it's next to a COSTA and some shops to pass the time.


Secondly, compared with the control group, people's overall satisfaction with the service increased slightly when they were presented with more transparent information and when they knew the reasons behind why something was taking so long. People become more empathetic. We suspect that if councils adopted such measures, the rate of problem emails and complaints from users would be mitigated.


This conclusion directly influenced the direction we took for the next phase of the prototype upgrade. We realised that perhaps we should make the transparency of information a little more visualized, for example, by 1. allowing the user to see directly at the time of placing the charging point whether there are other ongoing applicants in the vicinity, and 2. whether the electrical infrastructure of the street or the legal code supports the installation.

Strategic Roadmap


In our roadmap, we have completed the first phase of collecting data on user applications without technical and legal considerations and testing whether users have this need this semester. And the conclusion is that we believe EV & potential EV users are very keen to participate in the planning of public charging points co-creatively. They don't know how to get involved or are hindered by processes that are hard to understand. With the proper guidance, people are immeasurably creative.


If this project can be continued, then in the second phase, the purpose is to establish review criteria for evaluating algorithms to process application data from users in accordance with technical and legal constraints. It is therefore also very important to listen to the views and real needs of Councils and to build a positive relationship with it. Then, we will select 10 sites from the data collected that meet the legal and technical conditions to be made available to users as pre-selections on our webpage.


In the third phase, we need to take into account the human factor and, depending on the outcome of the consultation and negotiations, be able to actually install a charging point. Together, these three phases form an MVP.

SPECIAL
THANKS
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