The ULTIMO project is unique in many ways, one of them being our 23-strong consortium. The ULTIMO partners each bring their own strengths and knowledge to the table – safe to say we want you to meet them.

Next up: Open Geneva! Within ULTIMO, this partner ensures citizens have a say in the automated mobility services they’d like to see on their streets. We sat down with Julia Dallest, Executive Director of Open Geneva, to ask her how she ensures everyone’s thoughts are taken on board.

Within ULTIMO, Open Geneva is responsible for the co-creation and citizen involvement. How are citizens engaged within the project? 

In ULTIMO, Open Geneva actively involves citizens through a series of hackathons and interactive workshops ensuring broad and inclusive participation. We emphasize understanding community needs by facilitating open dialogues, collecting feedback, and encouraging creative collaboration. This approach allows citizens to directly influence project outcomes, ensuring solutions are tailored to actual needs and expectations. Our goal is to make citizen engagement not just informative but also empowering, allowing participants to see the tangible impact of their contributions on the project. 

Why is citizen involvement so important?

Citizen involvement is crucial for ULTIMO, for several reasons. First of all, it raises awareness and interest in the project among future users. It also ensures that the solutions developed are truly rooted in the needs and preferences of the community, leading to more effective and better-accepted results. Citizen involvement contributes directly to creating a sense of ownership and responsibility for the project, which strengthens its acceptance and implementation. By creating safe, non-judgmental spaces, citizens can express not only their doubts, but also their hopes and expectations in the construction of a service that best meets their needs. This approach enriches the project with diverse perspectives, leading to more innovative and inclusive solutions, beneficial not only for ULTIMO, but also for the mobility sector at large. 

So far, two Hackathons have been organised, in Geneva and Oslo. Following these can you already say something about the needs, wishes and demands from citizens when it comes to automated mobility? 

The hackathons in Geneva and Oslo are essential for uncovering citizens’ perspectives on automated mobility. Key observations include a strong desire for safety, reliability, and ease of use for effective integration with existing public transport offerings. Citizens have expressed a need for inclusive design that caters to all demographics, including the elderly and those with disabilities. The issue of cost also appears to be decisive in the adoption or rejection of this future mode of transport, which aims to be an alternative to individual cars or taxis. These results highlight the crucial technological and social challenges that the ULTIMO project must address. 

Do you see any challenges in your task (or maybe you have already encountered them) and how would you tackle them?

Motivating citizens to be part of the solution is the greatest challenge of citizen engagement! To address these challenges, we adopt an innovative approach. We do not implement a participant selection process based on knowledge level or population representativeness. Instead, we rely on the subject’s interest and the participants’ intrinsic motivation to engage in a co-creation exercise on a topic that is meaningful to them. We provide them with open dialogue spaces, free of pressure, where every voice can freely express itself, ensuring an authentic and citizen-driven engagement process. 

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