This semester-long course project for Service Design examined the problem of private transportation for people with physical disabilities. We focused on Uber as a case study and, in a team of three designers, we utilized service design tools and processes to create a prototype service. This project was later included in Modern Atlanta’s “Design is Human” 2016 exhibit in Atlanta.
This project allowed us to explore various service design tools and ideation methodologies while focusing on a single, real-world client. As a team, we discovered the importance of storytelling and precise language in presenting ideas and products.
As a team, myself, Catherine Johnson, & David Chiang went through the entire process from client exploration to ideation and from brainstorming to prototype development. In addition, my specific roles included facilitating design and ideation sessions, creating our interactive prototypes, assisting in developing our final presentation, and filming and editing the product video.
A working prototype of our service, a formal presentation of our service and business case, a product video, and various design assets (stakeholder maps, service blueprints, customer journey maps, etc.).
01 - A problem exists
Private transportation services – such as Uber and Lyft – have been an invaluable innovation to people around the world. Their success, however, has come with its fair share of problems and lawsuits, including many issues with accommodating people with physical disabilities. These riders are often denied rides because the driver claims they cannot fit a wheelchair in their car, the driver won’t allow a service dog in the car, or the driver just doesn’t want to deal with a passenger who they assume will require extra effort. We chose to focus on Uber as a case study to examine the problem and develop an innovative solution.
02 - Understanding our Stakeholders
We started digging into the problem by looking into all of the stakeholders involved in a rider-driver interaction. We mapped this out, categorizing each entity into primary, secondary, and tertiary stakeholders so to see where everyone exists inside the service. Building on this, we added relationships between stakeholders to examine how each entity is connected to the others. This allowed us to simulate how a change to one area – say, drivers – could affect stakeholders both upstream and downstream. From here, we discovered three key relationships: rider & driver, driver & Uber, and rider & Uber. This relationship triangle laid the foundation for our service solution.
04 - Building on an Existing Service
One might argue that private transportation services exist for people with physical disabilities. In fact, Uber has UberAccess and UberWAV – wheelchair-specific transportation – in some cities. The problem with all of these services is the wait times are either astronomical or you need to reserve them at least a day in advance, removing the “on-demand” nature of Uber. Further, in many cases, wheelchairs, walkers, etc. are able to fold to fit in any car. This led us to the conclusion that we could incorporate our service into Uber’s existing ecosystem, creating a truly universal transportation service, rather than separate a whole user group into an accessible service.
05 - Introducing UberCARE
UberCARE works to bring the same Uber service to all riders by intelligently matching riders and drivers using enhanced profile data. The service informs Uber’s matching algorithm that a rider has a wheelchair, service dog, etc., then intelligently matches them with a car that is able to accommodate them. Once matched, the app notifies the driver of the passenger’s needs and notifies the passenger that the driver is aware of their needs. This removes the rider pain point of needing to contact the driver on each match to explain the situation. UberCARE is not a separate service, rather an add-on that can be applied to any part of Uber’s fleet of cars.
06 - Putting it into Reality
In order to make such a service successful, driver training is necessary to demonstrate how to fit a wheelchair in the car, to educate drivers on the ADA, and more. We developed an incentive system that includes free gas and coffee to convince drivers to participate in the training and, therefore, improve rider experience. Further, upon completing these trainings, drivers would be eligible for increased payout on each ride the complete. This system sounds like an expensive proposition, so we crunched the numbers and determined exactly how much this would cost Uber. Turns out, such a system would only cost Uber .027% of their total valuation! Of course, many more factors contribute to implementing this, but our estimate shows it would be a small price to pay for a massive improvement to their system.
07 - Product Video