Internet of Things (IoT) works in various parts of our lives and connects our daily life with various “things.” However, there is still a gap between people in our society, and there are vulnerable groups. How can this IoT technology be applied to connect the gap among people that exist in the transportation system and to help the mobility impaired? In this article, I would like to share ideas that incorporate IoT technology to improve the user experience for women, especially pregnant women who are carrying a new life inside.
- Pregnant Women in the Public Transport
“In the early stages of pregnancy, I want to be seated, but people are totally focused on their phones.”
“Never assume that a woman is pregnant.”
According to the survey conducted by the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare on pregnant women in 2016, 40.9% of pregnant women said they had not received consideration as a pregnant woman in the public transport. However, when asking the general passengers why they did not care, 49.4% said they did not know whether the women were pregnant. Women in their early months of pregnancy may not yet be showing, but it is the time when the mother and baby should stay in the most stable position to grow normally.
- Please Offer a Seat
“It’s not only polite, it’s the law.” New York City Transit
Transport for London has been giving out free “Baby on board” badges since 2005. 130,000 badges are handed out each year, but most of the time it is not easy to notice the badges. Smartphone applications can also improve the badge campaign to help pregnant women find a seat on public transportation. In London, the dual app service “Babee on Board” was launched and offers a Request Seat app and an Offer Seat app. The version of Request Seat with the alert feature costs £3.99, while the version for Offer Seat is available for free. 100% of profits from the app are donated to charity. Meanwhile in Tokyo, the popular messaging app in Japan is used to match pregnant women and the passengers who are willing to give up their seats through a message instead of downloading a new app. In New York City, passengers are required to relinquish seats in the priority seating areas under federal regulations and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) rules of conduct. Recently, MTA has also started a new awareness campaign “Baby on Board Buttons”, handing out yellow badges for pregnant women to remind passengers to offer a seat for the mother-to-be.
- “Pink Light Campaign”: Signal light inside of metro?
“Consideration for pregnant women should prevail and they should be able to use public transportation more easily and conveniently with this policy.” Busan’s mayor Suh Byung-soo
Could these campaigns and ideas be a package of public transportation infrastructure while avoiding the need for an awkward conversation?
The “Pink Light Campaign” is a public campaign using Busan’s advanced Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). “Pink Light” was installed in Busan-Gimhae Light Railway for the first time in 2016, which is a system to induce the passenger to offer the seat to a pregnant woman. It emits a signal with Pink Light when pregnant women with a beacon (transmitter) board a train and approach within 2 meters of priority seats. This is done by leveraging new IoT technology and using next-generation short-range communication technology with low-power Bluetooth (BLE) to more precisely locate priority seats. Beacons for pregnant women can be issued if they bring maternity passbooks or pregnancy certificates at public health centers or major transit stations of Busan City Railway. The newly created Pink Light has added a function to guide the concessions as well as the light by voice. The beacon is made of buttons for the convenience of the pregnant women to control themselves. Pink Light is also certified by accredited organizations that have been subjected to physical property tests to block harmful components such as electromagnetic waves.
- Pregnant woman receives pre-issued beacon
- Pregnant women carrying beacons board Busan-Gimhae Light Rail
- ‘Pink Light’ installed beside the caring seat of the pregnant woman detects the beacon signal
- Pink Light induce the people to yield a seat
Under the Mobility Enhancement for the Mobility Impaired Act 2009, more than one-tenth of the seats in the urban railroad in Korea should be assigned to the priority seats. However, during rush hour, passengers are packed like sardines on the subway, and it is not easy to leave the priority seat empty. The purpose of priority seat is not letting the unconditional leave a seat, but it is the intent to give place when the mobility impaired need to have a seat. The Pink Light Campaign is receiving a good reputation because it has created a culture that encourages voluntary participation through communication. It does not impose concessions but provides a warm connection between people by offering an opportunity to concede one’s seat to a pregnant woman.