It would be right to say "everybody hates traffic", but that would be a fallacy of hasty generalization. Traffic hawkers don't, they profit from it.
Economically, socially and productively, traffic congestion does more harm than good, and has gained the hatred of many, including all of us at team Tranxit.
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As a continuation of the design thinking process introduced in my first article (City Transport - A Primary Market Research on users of public transport in Nigerian cities), we formed an hackathon team and we continued to the problem definition phase.
We found out that these traffic congestions are more popular in cities because of their dense population. Their increasing population density is something that cannot be controlled so long as resources are not evenly distributed. For instance, for a company in Lagos that gets its raw material through the port, It would be unwise to transport those raw materials to a less populated region where their company/plant is located and later transport the finished products back to the commercial capital for sale. Meaning, the company would have to situate their plant in an already densely populated city. All its staffs would also want to stay near their place of work. For those staffs, there would be other institutions that provide services such as educating their children, restaurants and fast foods, recreation centres, transportation, traffic control, security, and the chain goes on. There is little that can be done if we want to find a solution to the traffic congestion issue by reducing overpopulation.
We also found out that at some time of the day, there is an exodus of people from a particular part of the city to other parts, this is when most traffic congestion begins. In the morning on weekdays, people move from the residential part of the city to the industrial parts, students leave their homes to get to school, others leave to get to their place of work. Later in the day, they do the opposite.
Also, many people rely on only one means of transportation (which is the road). Most times, their option is narrowed to one particular route to get to their destination. Before 8 am daily, more than 20 long busses would take off from Ikorodu garage, heading towards Eko Bridge. Many of its passengers are going to the island. But, only a tiny fraction of them knows that there is a ferry route to the same destination that guarantees 45 mins commute time.
Many other times, abnormalities such as accidents, fights, robbery and even parties sometimes block the flow of traffic leading to congestion.
The problem of traffic congestion affects everyone whether directly or indirectly. According to the world bank, The Lagos state government loses N42 billion annually due to traffic congestion. Workers in Lagos state spend many of their productive time in traffic. there is also a problem of excess vehicle emission since a journey of 30 mins would now take 90 mins. Also, congested traffic results in a higher accident rate. There will be no way for hoodlums to steal from commuters in fast-moving traffic.
In designing a solution, we thought of capacity. i.e increasing the total kilometres of road. That is a work of the government and way beyond our power. we also thought of decreasing the density of the population. That also can only be done intelligently by the government. We as a team cannot achieve that without stepping with peoples freedom.
We agreed on easing the traffic on the roads by providing information on an alternative means of transportation, or most likely, an alternative route to get to a destination. We also chose to provide information on the abnormalities that causes congestion on the road, so drivers can think of an alternative route that helps them avoid congestion. These solutions would be embedded in our application called Tranxit. To combat fake information, we allow users to verify any traffic report given. To encourage users to use the platform, we encourage users to mark helpful reports. Users with the highest number of helpful report each month would be rewarded.
We created low-fidelity prototypes for the solution (using pen and paper) then we tested it with members of other hackathon groups.
Finally, we pitched our solution to a team of judges, some of them are business analysts and CEOs of startups in the presence of other fellows, and got lots of helpful feedback.
I have joined many hackathons and completed only a few, but none of them was as impactful as this one you are reading about. Reason being that during the IFA fellowship, we were introduced to design thinking and guided practically on how to use it to solve problems. Applying the design thinking approach to a problem makes even a novice an innovator in that field.