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EVIE

Cross-council learning for better EV charger rollout

MA 2020/2022
Keywords
Councils, Knowledge sharing, government, electric vehicles, electric charging
Overview

This project aimed at enabling an efficient transition to a future dominated by electric vehicles. We sought to understand different systems to uncover barriers that make it difficult for the UK to be prepared for EVs taking over the streets. Our problem focus was to understand how local authorities and councils are involved in the delivery of EV Charging infrastructure and the difficulties they face in doing so. The service proposition that the project culminated in was a platform to enable cross-council communication and sharing of best practices.

Collaboration

Our project partner for this project was PA Consulting, an innovation-led firm that recently launched UK's iconic chargepoint design at COP26. Our brief was to create meaningful services and experiences centred around electric vehicles in the context of the UK's net-zero plans. Our project was supported by them every step of the way, and it received great appreciation during its delivery.

Context

In its transition to net-zero, the UK government has put electric vehicles (EVs) at the forefront of their Transport Decarbonisation Plan. Due to a ‘lack of coherent strategic direction at a national level’, local authorities lack clarity about their role in this transition. However, they are expected to meet government-set goals of installing hundreds of chargepoints in their boroughs. Many councils require additional support in EV Chargepoint Network planning, transport planning, stakeholder contracts and communication. As described in the LGA’s report titled Scoping The Role of Local Authorities in the Provision of Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure, ‘Local authorities are resource-constrained and trying to operate in a market where demand currently outstrips supply. This is providing an environment where suppliers have the upper hand, and as a consequence, there are risks to delivery of best value.’

The Challenge

Councils across the country are at different stages in terms of their EV Charging infrastructure. A few boroughs have gained popularity owing to their high density of EV Chargers; however, some councils have only started drafting their EV Chargepoint strategies recently. Different councils have employed different strategies in delivering chargepoints and have found unique and efficient workarounds. However, through the independent research we conducted across six councils, we found that councils rarely speak with each other and work in silo-ed ways. It was often found that problems experienced by a certain council have been solved elsewhere by a different council. The video here details our insights and findings about the same.

Our Direction

How might we enable different councils to network and be enlightened by different ideas and best practices in order to catalyse the transition to an EV driven future?

Our Solution- EVIE

We tested and iterated a series of prototypes across four councils. Our prototypes ranged from a simple interactive database for councils’ profiles and questions to engaging games and toolkits for different problem scenarios councillors may encounter.

During this, councillors expressed they needed something that connected them to other relevant councils with minimal effort. Although they trust a government-owned platform, they needed a closed community of councillors to share worries and help each other. 


Our aim became to enable different kinds of value exchange between councils with relevant expertise and those seeking support and updates. This is illustrated in the image below.


This led to the development of our final service proposition, EVIE.


EVIE is a platform to connect councils based on relevance, facilitate communication and sharing of knowledge between them and relevant stakeholders about EV Charger roll-out projects.

Roadmap

The next steps for our project would be to propose a test run with councils under the guidance of the Department For Transport for the first six months, as DFT is a major stakeholder and national EV strategy planner. During this trial, the platform will be constantly iterated according to feedback received from councils. A poll regarding service usability, feasibility, and viability will be conducted at the end of the six months trial for DFT to make a decision before its official launch. 

Government adoption of our service would be an ideal case for our service. If, in any case, the service can not be adopted by the government, we would approach other government trusted organisations like the Energy-Savings Trust and Cenex.

SPECIAL
THANKS

Firstly, we would like to thank Dan Toon and Jing Qian at PA Consulting for the opportunity to work on this project. We are grateful to our tutor Richard Atkinson for his unwavering guidance. This project would not have been possible without the contributions of Rasita Chudasama (Principal Transport Planner, Nottingham City Council), Charlie Allen, (Commercial Lead-Highways, West Sussex County Council), Ruth O’Brien (Sustainability Officer, West Sussex County Council), Vikki Robins (Sustainable City Project Officer, Oxford City Council) , Peter McDonald (Travel & transport planning officer, Croydon Council), Brian Matthews (Head of Transport Innovation, Milton Keynes Council), Anthony Fairclough (Leader, Merton Liberal Democrats) and Jo Wall (Strategic Director, Local Partnerships LLP). We would like to extend a special thanks to all our research participants and interviewees, especially Dr Venkat Reddy (NHS Director) and Dan Escapes (YouTuber). Lastly, we would like to express our gratitude towards Clive Grinyer and Carolyn Runcie for their continuous support.

Team