To Scandinavia and beyond: how a learning expedition fostered a community around mobility
As part of the Mobility as Networks study made by Le Lab Ouishare X Chronos, 16 partners and eight team members went on a five-day Learning Expedition through three Scandinavian cities to meet and get inspired by the actors designing the mobility of tomorrow.
The MasN study started in March 2017. Since then, Ghislain Delabie, the Mobility Expert and Camille Chapuis, the Project Manager, have been regularly working with the partners, both private and public actors. Amongst the participants of the Learning Expedition there are representatives from five French cities (Paris, Lyon, Rouen, Montpellier and Tours) and some of the leading mobility actors; such as the SNCF, Systra, Transdev, Mappy, Michelin and Bouygues Construction. These actors aren't used to collaborating, therefore gathering them around the same table to discuss their current challenges and ambitions was an enlightening starting point for everyone involved.
The idea of the Learning Expedition came from the realisation that the partners needed inspiration and concrete examples of how to implement new mobility models. Because the Ouishare team had been working with the participants for some time, they had a clear understanding of their needs and expectations when they started planning the trip. Scandinavia became a clear choice as its cities are known for being at the forefront of urban and transportation design. The purpose was to give the partners the possibility to interact, question and exchange with the actors creating the mobility of tomorrow, today.
Learnings from Copenhagen, Gothenburg and Oslo
In each city, the first stop was meeting people from the municipality to get an insight into the policies and actions implemented to foster new types of mobility. In Copenhagen, participants learnt how the city invested in more actives mode of transport, especially biking as the most efficient mode for commuting, through low-tech infrastructure and communication. In Gothenburg, they saw firsthand how the shared strategy is putting electric, autonomous and connected vehicles at the core of mobility as a service. Finally, in Oslo, they understood the policies used to recover public spaces for the people and how the city is transitioning to green mobility.
"The trip was an enlightenment to understand the role cities have to promote better transportation services and the need for more partnerships between public and private actors."
- Laetitia Flourent | Bouygues Construction
The second stop was meeting with the different actors crafting the mobility services and infrastructures. From transport operators, designers and urbanists, to startups, private companies, innovation labs and research institutes. In total, the team met with more than 25 experts that provided a holistic perspective.
"For me, it was an immersive and truly energising experience that has open my eyes to what can be done in our cities. I realised more than ever that is not the technology, but coherent policies that will make a difference."
- Maud Bernard | SYSTRA
The primary goal of the expedition was to connect people abroad working on the same issues to learn from each other. The program was designed to both inspire actors as well as to offer them concrete practices and learnings that they could implement at their return.
It's not about the methodology, it's about the people
Being an international network gives Ouishare a significant advantage in being able to identify and connect with multiple stakeholders across different cities.
Having access to grassroots local actors gave the participants a more realistic and comprehensive understanding of each city's challenges and opportunities. Moreover, designing more participatory formats throughout the sessions also pushed discussions further.
"One of my objectives was making sure participants would experience the city like locals. You can't understand a city without using its public transportation system, so we planned for practically all the means of transport available: from rental bikes, ferries, buses, trains, and long walks, we can now say we had a fully immersive mobility journey"
- Camille Chapuis | Ouishare
One journey, many opportunities, lasting connections
The most significant accomplishment, besides the relevant content and fun, immersive experience, was creating a little community among the participants as well as the actors met along the expedition. Months after the trip, participants still exchange and communicate through their messaging group. They share updates about their current projects, news regarding mobility services or continue some previous discussions. Participants feel they were part of something together and they want to keep it alive.
Months after the trip, participants still exchange and communicate through their messaging group.
"What makes a difference in the way we organise these trips, is the perfect balance between formal and casual moments. It is what makes it both an enlightening professional experience and gives the opportunity for partners to truly get to know one another, ultimately setting the basis of a community."
- Camille Chapuis | Ouishare
The trip also gave rise to new partnerships and business opportunities. For example, Bouygues Constructions is working with Copenhagenize to work on the design of bike parking lots in their housing buildings, and Transdev is collaborating with Ruter, the ticketing authority of Oslo. The role of Ouishare has been to help them keep in contact and discover potential ways of collaborating, instead of working in silos.
In conclusion, this experience is aligned with the Ouishare global mission. From kick-starting a community to gathering different actors that wouldn't have met otherwise thanks to the power of the international network. Ultimately, Learning Expeditions help connect people and accelerate projects for systemic change.