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Investigation of Västtrafik s real-time system Implementation of a new iphone application for public transport travellers in Göteborg Master of Science Thesis in Interaction Design JOAKIM BÖRJESSON MARTIN

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Investigation of Västtrafik s real-time system Implementation of a new iphone application for public transport travellers in Göteborg Master of Science Thesis in Interaction Design JOAKIM BÖRJESSON MARTIN HJULSTRÖM Chalmers University of Technology University of Gothenburg Department of Computer Science and Engineering Göteborg, Sweden, June 2010 The Author grants to Chalmers University of Technology and University of Gothenburg the nonexclusive right to publish the Work electronically and in a non-commercial purpose make it accessible on the Internet. The Author warrants that he/she is the author to the Work, and warrants that the Work does not contain text, pictures or other material that violates copyright law. The Author shall, when transferring the rights of the Work to a third party (for example a publisher or a company), acknowledge the third party about this agreement. If the Author has signed a copyright agreement with a third party regarding the Work, the Author warrants hereby that he/she has obtained any necessary permission from this third party to let Chalmers University of Technology and University of Gothenburg store the Work electronically and make it accessible on the Internet. Investigation of Västtrafik s real-time system Implementation of a new iphone application for public transport travellers in Göteborg JOAKIM BÖRJESSON MARTIN HJULSTRÖM JOAKIM BÖRJESSON, June MARTIN HJULSTRÖM, June Examiner: OLOF TORGERSSON Chalmers University of Technology University of Gothenburg Department of Computer Science and Engineering SE Göteborg Sweden Telephone + 46 (0) Department of Computer Science and Engineering Göteborg, Sweden June 2010 Abstract Most of today s public transportation companies make use of real-time information system. This master thesis is about the evaluation of the current real-time information that is distributed by Västtrafik AB to their customers. Based on the result of the evaluation an iphone application was developed. The development of the application is the biggest part of the project. The application is a tool for people who are travelling with Västtrafik and introduces some new and innovative features including; filtered disturbance information, and showing a vehicle s position on map. This report describes the evaluation of Västtrafik s real-time system, the development of the application, and the results. During the development of the application a questionnaire, an expert evaluation, and a user study were carried out. Those studies are also included in the report. Sammandrag De flesta av dagens kollektivtrafikföretag använder sig av realtidssystem och realtidsinformation. Den här rapporten handlar om en utvärdering av realtidsinformation som Västtrafik AB distribuerar till sina kunder. Resultatet av utvärderingen låg till grund för en iphone applikation som utvecklats under större delen av projektet. Applikationen är ett hjälpmedel för Västtrafiks resenärer och innehåller nya och innovativa funktioner, bland annat; filtrerad störningsinformation och möjligheten att se ett fordons position på en karta. Rapporten beskriver utvärderingen av Västtrafiks realtidssystem, samt utvecklingen av applikationen och resultatet. Under utvecklingen av applikationen genomfördes: en enkätundersökning, en expertutvärdering och ett användartest. De undersökningarna beskrivs också i rapporten. We would like to thank some people that have helped us during this project; Maria Gustafsson our contact at Västtrafik, Olof Torgersson our tutor at Chalmers, and Pontus Engelbrektsson at Chalmers. We also want to thank all the people that participated in the different studies that we conducted during the project. Table of content 1. Introduction Background Real-time systems Objectives Dictionary Methods Focus groups Paper prototyping Questionnaire Extreme Programming Expert evaluation Colour-coded sections Pre-study Västtrafik's current real-time system Västtrafik's API Focus groups Participants Questions Results Delimitations Questionnaire Specifications Development IPhone development Paper prototyping Navigation Trip planner Real-time departures Disturbance information Development of the application Graphical design Navigation... 18 Calculate a vehicle's position Trip planner Real-time departures The map Disturbance Information Expert evaluation Evaluation Results Trip planner Real-time departures Disturbance information Discussion Weaknesses Evaluation against the goals of the application Future work Our work Conclusion References Appendix A: Questionnaire Appendix B: Gantt chart Appendix C: Interview guide Appendix D: Poster Appendix E: Poster 1. Introduction In today's modern public transportation it is very common to make use of real-time information systems. Companies invest a considerable amount of money in this kind of equipment and applications [1]. This report describes a master thesis done in cooperation with such a company; Västtrafik AB, which are responsible for the public transportation in the region Västra Götaland. The focus of the thesis was Västtrafik's real-time system, and more precisely the information provided by the real-time system to the end users. The initial plan was to evaluate the system and then come up with ways to improve the system for one or more of the issues that had appeared during the evaluation. After the evaluation the decision was made to develop a new iphone application. This paper will describe why we choose to make an iphone application, and the design process to make it as well as the results Background In 2009 Västtrafik introduced a new payment system; the new system received massive criticism [2]. The system was confusing and users didn't understand how it was working, as this report is written a lot of people are still confused about the system. We took contact with Västtrafik to see if they wanted any help with the payment system, and if it was possible to form a master thesis around this problem. We thought that, as interaction designers, we could evaluate the design and together with the users redesign the system to make people understand how it should be used. But they had already made the required reinforcements to fix it and it wasn't possible to include us in the process. We had a meeting with Västtrafik anyway, to discuss a few other possible master theses. After some discussions with Västtrafik and with our examiner a project was formed. The focus of the project was to evaluate Västtrafik s real-time system, and based on the evaluation come up with solutions that could improve parts of the system where the users aren't totally satisfied. Throughout the project regular meetings with Västtrafik were held and they gave input on the project and helped us navigate in the right direction. During the meetings we also gave feedback on the different systems that belongs to Västtrafik that we used, the homepage, the iphone application and most important the API. Hopefully the work that we have done will influence the systems that will be developed in the future by Västtrafik Real-time systems Real-time systems in the context of this thesis concerns the different systems that provides users with information that can aid them in their travels. The displays at the bus and tram stops might be the first thing that comes in mind when talking about real-time information in public transportation. But real-time information can also be presented through other channels. Cell phones can present real-time information for the user before, during, and after a journey. The information that is presented today is usually only useful before the journey, to check when a bus or a tram will depart, or to search for a journey. The same information can be presented on the internet, that might be a more common place to search for journeys and check for departures than using the cell phone. Displays on the vehicle you are travelling with are also presenting real-time information. They usually give you information about upcoming stops and important information. 1 Information regarding disturbances is another form of real-time information. It might be crucial that this information reaches the users as soon as possible. There are different ways of presenting the information. The most common ways are to make use of displays and speakers at the stops; however it is not so common to make good use of digital media Objectives The two main objectives of this thesis is to investigate what problems users have with the real-time information distributed by Västtrafik today, and then try to come up with ideas that solves some of those problems and realize one or more of those. With users in this report we refer to people in the Göteborg region that currently travel with public transportation. It is not our goal to develop systems that will attract more people to travel with public transportation, but rather to enhance the experience for people that already do. The reason that we have decided to not try to attract more users by improving the real-time system is because we believe that it is not changes in the real-time systems that will make people take the bus rather than take their car. We believe that other changes have to be made to reach those users Dictionary API: Or application programming interface is a set of rules describing how the communication between two applications should look like. Journey: A journey is when you travel from a stop to another, a journey can involve transfers. Trip: A trip is a part of a journey. A journey with one transfer consists of two trips, one trip to the place of the transfer, and one trip to the destination. Route: Is the way of a journey or a trip marked on a map. Line number: The number of a specific vehicle. Stop: The places where a vehicle stops. Each stop has at least two traffic islands. The traffic islands are different places at a stop where vehicles depart from. Trip planner: Is a tool for searching for journeys. Region: In the data from Västtrafik Västra Götaland is divided into four regions. County: Each region is divided into counties. 2 2. Methods This section will describe the various methods that have been used during the realization process. Focus groups were used in the pre-study to evaluate the Västtrafik s current real-time system. As soon as it was decided that an iphone application would be made we started working with paper prototypes. A questionnaire was made in digital format to gather data about what functionality that was most wanted in the application. When we started to code the application we were influenced by extreme programming (XP), for example we were programming in pair. Expert evaluations where used during the project to test our application and to get some feedback on the usability and the design of the application. Towards the end of the project a user study was held to evaluate the final prototype and gather any last design issues Focus groups Focus groups [3] is a qualitative research method where a group of people are interviewed at the same time. What makes it different from most group interviews is that it generates data based on the communication between the participants. Which means that instead of asking questions and let the participants answer one at a time, people are encouraged to discuss their experiences and thoughts with each other. Focus groups are especially useful to explore users' experiences and knowledge. It can also be used to examine not only what the people think, but also why they think that way. In a focus group session you start a discussion with the help of open ended questions for the participants to discus. The people will communicate with each other around the topic while the organizers takes notes and keeps the discussion going. When the group dynamic is working well the organizers and the participants are working together and are exploring new ways of looking at the topic. It is more likely that some unexpected discussions will appear and it is a good way of gathering data. Because the interview is held with a group of people, it enables the organizers to use a more varied type of communication types to get a better group dynamic. For example it is easier to make jokes, tell anecdotes, arguing, and teasing when working with a group rather than with individuals. Having this large set of communication techniques to choose from makes it easier to get information from persons that might feel uncomfortable in a normal interview and might not open up. A downside with doing group interviews is that the individual thoughts that stick out might have a hard time reaching through the big noise from the group. However it is up to the organizers to make sure they collect correct data from each of the participants and not draw conclusions too fast. It is important that the preparations are good for the interviews to be successful. The organizers should have a red line to follow, even though the questions should be open-ended to encourage discussion Paper prototyping Nowadays development processes tend to get shorter and shorter and to find quick solutions for tasks that usually take a lot of time is good. Instead of using HTML or any other digital prototype that might be very time consuming it can be a good idea to make paper prototypes [4]. Paper prototypes are simple prototypes that don t require anything else that pens, scissors, and papers. It also invites people that don t have any technical background into the design process. They will probably understand a paper prototype better than a digital one. 3 The paper prototyping technique enables you to experiment a lot with very short iterations. The paper pieces are easy to move around in your design while a digital prototype might take more time to change. If something has to be changed or removed in a paper prototype it is easily thrown away and you can move on. It can be used within the development team to quickly try out a few design ideas for themselves. It is a quick and cheap way to try out the design and the flow in the product. Figure 1: Example of a paper prototype 2.3. Questionnaire A questionnaire [5] consists of a set of questions with a few different options as answer. Questionnaires can be distributed in many ways; the most common way is in paper format. However since most people have a computer these days, a good way of distributing a questionnaire is through the internet. Digital questionnaire can be made in any number of copies and can be sent to a large number of people. The main advantages of using a questionnaire are: Usually a very low-cost data collection method. The results are easy to process. If it was a digital questionnaire the processing will be even easier. Sometimes the processing is done automatically by the service you are using. The range of people you can come in contact with increases a lot. Those people might not be able to attend interviews but you can easily reach them with a questionnaire. 4 The main disadvantages of using questionnaire are: Generally low response rates. Some people are unable to complete a questionnaire for different reasons. It could be old or handicapped people or young children. The organizers are unable to support the participant during the questionnaire. If any misunderstandings will occur explanations can't be presented which might end up with unreliable results. No control of how the questionnaires are answered. The questions could be answered in the wrong order and by someone else than the intended person. Unable to collect ratings or assessments based on observations. The layout of the questionnaire could affect the response rate. If you start the questionnaire with some big open ended questions the respondents might feel that too much work and time has to be invested in answering the questionnaire. A better way is to start with some short awareness questions to get some information about the respondents. Towards the end more advanced questions could be added, since now the respondents are almost done and feel that they can spend a little more time. The questions in a questionnaire can be either open or closed. In general a questionnaire has mostly open questions or mostly closed questions. An open question is a question where there are no answers to choose from and the respondents has to come up with an answer that he or she thinks is correct. Closed questions come with a set of answers to choose from. Questionnaires are mostly used as a quantitative data collection method but it can be used as a qualitative data collection method as well. If used correctly the questionnaire can be a powerful tool in a design process. It doesn't cost much to invest in a questionnaire and the result is easily processed and very useful Extreme Programming The development process used during this project was influenced by extreme programming [6]. The most fundamental aspect of extreme programming used in this project is pair programming, which means that you're programming in pairs. The reason for this is that both know how all the code works and both can improve the code anywhere they want. This makes it a very rapid development technique. The result is also more stable since two people have had an eye open for solutions that aren't foolproof. Another benefit of working in pairs is the knowledge exchange that constantly is going on. Other techniques from XP that were also borrowed into this project were; the system was fully integrated at all times, several builds were made every day, and the design evolved during the whole project. Supporters of XP believe that the end result will be better if you let the design evolve during the development instead of doing one big design in the beginning. The benefit of keeping the system integrated throughout the project is that you are sure that it will work in the end. You don't have to spend time on integrating different parts and you will avoid any integration errors. 5 2.5. Expert evaluation To avoid any errors to be found later in the design process it is crucial to perform evaluations throughout the project. But performing user tests too frequently is very time consuming and expensive. The normal user might also have difficulties to explain the experience of interaction while using a prototype. An expert though, could give feedback on the interaction and come up with possible solutions. On top of that it is quick and cheap to perform expert analysis. The basic idea about expert evaluations is to see if there are any areas that are likely to cause problem for the end users. The expert checks if the design violates any known cognitive principles or ignore accepted empirical results. The expert evaluation [7] might sound very powerful, and it is, however it doesn't give any feedback on the actual use of the system. It only gives results on the design and if the system upholds accepted usability principles Colour-coded sections Colour-coded sections [8] is a technique used when dividing information of an application or site into sections. It is done by colouring the surrounding in different colours depending on what section you are looking at. Using colour-coded sections is good as it makes it easier to identify what section of an application or site a page belongs to. It might also be easier to remember where to find a specific page if you can remember them by colour. Colour-coding sections are especially good to use when the different sections have a unique purpose or audience. It has been used and is still used on web pages to make the navigation easier. 6 3. Pre-study In this section we will present the work done during the pre-study. It starts with a description of Västtrafik s current real-time system, and of their API. The section continues with a description of the focus groups. Based on the outcome of the focus groups we narrowed down the scope of the project, this is reported in sectio
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