Award Number1910281
Funding AgencyNational Science Foundation
Effective Date2020-01-01
Expiration Date2022-12-31
Funding Amount$288,231


This project will lead to a novel understanding of effective design strategies for shared mobility systems for underserved rural and urban communities. Due to advances in networked information systems and ubiquitous connectivity, use of shared mobility systems is increasingly common. Underserved communities typically have the greatest needs for low-cost and high-quality shared transportation services. Yet, these communities experience financial, technical, skill-based and social barriers to their use. The study will result in a shared mobility system that leverages community strengths, addresses potential obstacles to use, appeals to community members, and uses a service model that is sustainable after the grant period. Furthermore, the study will advance the design of timebanking systems by accounting for the unique properties of transportation as a service and of rural settings. This work could lead to a broader set of participants in timebanks, and an expansion of the timebanking model to include new approaches involving nonprofit and healthcare organizations. Results can also inform policy efforts to promote transportation models that are equitable and inclusive for residents of underserved communities.

This project involves collaborations among two academic universities and 14 representatives of non-profit organizations in two geographic areas, and it has three primary aims. Aim 1 is to assess transportation needs and barriers and to generate participatory design ideas for a shared mobility system using the timebanking concept. Sessions will focus on: trust, reciprocity, design for skill development and access for people with limited computer skills and Internet access. Patients at partnering healthcare agencies and potential drivers will be interviewed, and participatory design sessions will be conducted with these groups and third-party intermediaries. Aim 2 is to develop and implement a shared mobility system for healthcare transportation; new features based on Aim 1 will be integrated into an existing timebank platform. This aim will involve a pre-pilot field study. Aim 3 is evaluation of the feasibility and preliminary impact of the system on the primary outcome of missed appointments at healthcare organizations. This will involve a four-month pilot study using an interrupted time series quasi-experimental design. Analyses will leverage electronic health record data, timebank platform server log data, user surveys, and observation at healthcare organizations.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.