Vulnerable users' perceptions of transport technologies
Journal article, 2016
As the global population continues to grow, age and urbanise, it is vital to provide accessible transport so that neither ageing nor disability constitutes barriers to social inclusion. While technology can enhance urban access, there is a need to study the ways by which transport technologies – real-time information, pedestrian navigation, surveillance and road pricing – could be more effectively adopted by users. The reason for this is that some people, and particularly vulnerable populations, are still likely to be reluctant to use (or even avoid using) technologies perceived as ‘unknown’ and ‘complicated’. On the basis of evidence from British and Swedish case studies on older people's perceptions of the aforementioned transport technologies, as well as of a Swedish case study of visually impaired people's perceptions, this paper makes the case that technology is only one tool in a complex sociotechnical system, and one that brings challenges. The authors also suggest that although vulnerable populations are not homogeneous when expressing their attitudes towards transport technologies, their assessment criteria tend to be ‘prosocial’ as they usually consider that the societal benefits of the assessed technologies outweigh the personal benefits. Emphasising aspects linked to the technologies' prosocial potential or relevance to the individual user could therefore increase acceptance.