It has been a while since the last blog post, but we have certainly not been taking any time off for sitting on our hands! The development work has been progressing on a frenzied pace and the results are already showing. The system is nearing its debut in June and we have already built impressive prototypes. This however, is not the time to get cocky, but stay humble and open for suggestions. For the last couple of months we have taken these out of the lab and exposed them to the critical gaze of a wide range of experts in multiple occasions.
Of course, the best experts are our users and so they were among the first that we turned to for comments to perfect our design. Technical University of Berlin gathered together a group of diverse users to try out the prototype and were met with enthusiasm – but also many points of potential improvement. Following their practical advice (and the advice of some user interface specialists that we also turned to) we actually revamped the whole visual design of the app. After all, the point is to make traveling easy and enjoyable, like it should be and with that nothing beats hearing from the users themselves.
We also got the opportunity to impress the European Commission representatives and external evaluator with our achievements in a formal review meeting in February in Brussels. All of the partners came in anxious to display the results of our hard work and put forward their very best effort on display.
We were relieved to hear that our vision was shared with the EC and we certainly benefited from the high-level view to our efforts that help us to build towards the common European vision of a unified, open MaaS market. On my trip back though, filled with visions of a DORA-powered bright future of mobility, I was quickly brought back to the ground with seeing close to a hundred people queuing for a taxi in the cold wind outside Helsinki airport. Now I wish they could have DORA already.
Finally, just recently we assembled the Advisory Board of DORA, a kind of Council of the Wise, to our second workshop with them. We were also joined by our sister project PASSME and MaaS Global, the world leading private company in providing commercial MaaS services. Hungry for feedback on perfecting our solutions both projects presented their achievements and future plans to this esteemed group of European experts, and as may be expected, excited discussion ensued. The discussion especially highlighted that taking good care of the users is the key to have a successful and sustainable service. Topics flying around the room included things such as inclusion of all passenger groups, including those with disabilities, passengers’ rights to privacy and freedom of informed choice and the centrality of the user’s experience in all situations. While both DORA and PASSME ends up reducing the time spent traveling and at the airport, it is still just as important to make the time on the trip enjoyable and stress-free – good advice indeed.
Having taken in this council from the Wise in each of these occasions, we are now pressing forward with the very final developments and gearing up to launch the pilots in June this year. Stay tuned for more information coming shortly on that and your possibility of joining the first group of people that get their hands on the app!