Gillam, T., Lyons, G. and McDonald, M.
Traveller information systems: what do end-users really want?
Proccedings of the European Transport Conference 1999 Traffic Management Safety and Intelligent Transport Systems.
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Undoubtedly, traveller information is an important and exciting area for research. The rapid evolution of technology coupled with the public's growing acceptance and desire for information has ensured that research and system manufacture is continuing apace. Indeed, the UK Government's Transport White Paper (DETR, 1998) has necessitated the re-appraisal of traveller information by setting time frames and guidelines for the implementation of good quality services. However, a large proportion of the traveller information research literature is very much service-provider centred, in turn reflecting a similar philosophy in the supply and presentation of information. With the development of advanced traveller information systems (ATISs), there has certainly been a demonstration of the ability to provide a high tech basis for information provision. Although the means and style of delivery is advanced, the underlying core information is often similar to that found in a paper-based timetable.
Whilst there is a 'technological push' towards ever more sophisticated information services, there is some evidence to suggest that while the 'market pull' might not be in a totally different direction, it is not altogether aligned with the services on offer. In short, there is a mismatch between the information available and the information required by the end-users that could stem from an ignorance of the end-user's requirements. Many contemporary services may be based on a set of fundamental, underlying assumptions about the traveller and the traveller's information needs. If it is accepted that current services are not fully meeting the needs of the travellers, the need to focus research on the end-user appears to be the best approach in attempting to optimise information provision. To this end, this paper aims to present the background philosophy and methodological issues currently being used to address the question, 'What do end-users really want from traveller information?'
In approaching this question, it is hoped that a greater understanding of user needs will be achieved, potentially leading to the provision of information that is more effective in assisting trip-making decisions. Therefore, the rationale of the study addressed in this paper has been to challenge existing design and, in proposing alternatives, employ methods and techniques hitherto typically regarded as unconventional in the field of traveller information provision. The paper highlights limitations in the current provision of traveller information and associated research. It then presents the rationale and evolution of an alternative approach that seeks to better understand user requirements from traveller information systems. Although specific findings of the ongoing study are included in the paper, they are intended to be illustrative rather than giving a comprehensive account of results. The focus of the paper concerns the underlying approach.
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