In August of 2019, the Human Services Council received the National Center for Mobility Management’s (NCMM) Community Mobility Design Challenge 2019 grant (CMDC). The CMDC guided our team of community members and organizations through the Human Centered Design Thinking (HCDT) process.
The HCDT process started in the planning phase, where we framed the problem and started planning our research. Next, came the discovery phase where we started conducting research by reviewing human service transportation plans, surveying community members, and speaking with community groups. We explored the problem from the perspective of patients, hospitals, caregivers, and transportation providers; through these lenses we were able to see the problem in full. With the data and information we gathered, we began to ask ourselves “how might we ensure residents in both Clark County and Vancouver find transportation to health-related destinations?”.
With this question in mind, we entered the Idea Generation phase and development of multiple solution concepts. Each solution concept provided a unique twist on how to increase access to health-related destinations. The solution concepts explored creative ways to market the service, acquire funding, and how to provide multiple benefits to the riders other than just transportation. We generated eight solution concepts in total.
Over the next several months, our team and solution concepts entered into the Prototyping and Assumption Testing phase, which is essentially the Thunderdome for solution concepts. The unsuspecting solution concepts were crafted into prototypes. The prototypes were displayed via hand-drawn comic strips on laminated sheets of legal paper. These prototypes were subjected to customer testing at community group meetings and community meal sites.
With the customer feedback, our team was able to narrow down the solution concepts from eight to six, to three, and finally down to one. The final solution concept contained most of its original idea, however it was improved with the best parts of the previous solution concepts.
Our final solution concept is now known as the North County Shuttle Service (NCSS). The NCSS provides shuttle service for residents of rural North Clark County into Battle Ground (BG) who are homebound due to a lack of transportation (including seniors and people with disabilities). In BG, riders will have the ability to access healthy destinations such as grocery stores, food banks, medical clinics, pharmacies, and recreational/social activities. With access being provided via a shuttle, the riders have the ability to socialize while traveling. Socialization is often overlooked, but becomes increasingly important to one’s health as a person ages out of the ability to safely provide their own transportation and lives in a rural area.
Well that was the plan… As we exited the first NCMM grant phase and entered into the second, the Limited Launch phase, COVID hit. During Limited Launch, we were supposed to test trip length, in-town social meeting places, target populations, scheduling methods, how to best provide service, and most appropriate vehicle type. For the most part we ended up testing how to safely provide public rural transportation during a pandemic. At the moment, we aren’t quite sure what the future holds for the NCSS during COVID, but we are excited to provide safe transportation to those who need it most in our community.
Team members included representatives from Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities of Southwest Washington, Battle Ground Healthcare, Clark County Public Health, Community Health Plan of Washington, C-TRAN, Free Clinic of Southwest Washington, Human Services Council, Kaiser Permanente, Meals on Wheels People, Molina Healthcare, PeaceHealth, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, and multiple community members.