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Lively London: Step-by-Step

Encourage Londoners to take the stairs on the underground by installing oyster card readers at the top & bottom of each station's flight of stairs. Allowing commuters to record the number of steps they've climbed & descended! Also possible in offices

Photo of Ryan Warnock
23 22

Written by

Install oyster card readers at the top and bottom of each station on the London Underground, also possible in office blocks. The card would be updated with the exact amount of steps between the card reader at the top and bottom of the flight of stairs at each station. Moreover, a separate tally could be recorded for stairs climbed and stairs descended depending on if the card was scanned at the top or bottom of the flight of stairs first. 

The same principle could easily be applied in an office block, so individual businesses could independently encourage their employees to be more active on a day-to-day basis. 

To maximise participation a website should be created whereby a friendly competition could easily be started between friends, family and colleagues.  

What are the benefits of your concept for the individual and the employer?

Benefits to the individual: - decreased body fat - increased fitness - healthier heart - increased energy levels Benefits to the employer: - increased productivity - employee bonding through creating a friendly competitive atmosphere

What might the impact of your concept be and how might it be measured?

Potential impact: - healthier London and/or healthier workplace Measured via oyster cards or equivalent.

How might your concept be designed to scale and spread to reach as many people as possible?

Once initial infrastructure is installed the concept would grow naturally but would be taken up far faster if coupled with an innovative marketing scheme.

How might you design a small experiment around your concept that would mobilise action?

To test the concept card readers could be installed within one office block and the businesses within the block should create a scheme to reward their most active employees.

Evaluation results

7 evaluations so far

1. Is this concept addressing clear health needs for users?

Indeed! It’s addressing an unmet need in a new way - 71.4%

Yep – it’s addressing a need but in an already crowded space - 0%

It’s not clear to see how this idea would significantly improve people’s health - 28.6%

2. Overall how do you feel about this concept?

This concept rocked my world - 42.9%

I liked it but prefered others - 42.9%

It didn't get my overly excited. - 14.3%

3. Does this concept feel like it could potentially be sustained as a business or movement over years rather than just months?  Does it feel like it will continue to be relevant in the future?

This concept has enough momentum to stand on its own two feet and remain relevant for years to come - 42.9%

It’s not clear how long it would take for this concept to stand on its own feet or how it will continue – but there’s reason to feel hopeful - 42.9%

This concept may have trouble sustaining itself in the long-run and stay relevant - 14.3%

4. How easy would it be for people to get involved and improve their health with this idea?

Very easy. It's clear how people could get involved quickly in this concept - 71.4%

I'm not sure if I can grasp how people could get involved easily - 14.3%

It seems challenging for people to get involved quickly in this concept - 14.3%

5. Does this concept have the potential to reach large numbers of people?

Sure. I could imagine this would spread like wild fire - 42.9%

It's interesting but feels like it would be slow or challenging to grow - 28.6%

It seems somewhat limited in scope - 28.6%

23 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Hey there Ryan – If you're interested in pursuing your idea further, you might want to check out the Knight News Challenge. They're focusing on the topic of health and the winning entries will receive grant funding to bring ideas to life. You can check it out here http://kng.ht/1aunB0h.

Photo of Robert James
Team

I was really captivated by this idea; particularly in applying it to the office. As a context, I work in a 10 story building, with approx 2,500 employees in the building at any one time. There are 12 lifts, and 4 poorly positioned stairwells that function as fire escapes rather than 'real' travel routes between floors.

There is a gigantic 10 story atrium which could easily accommodate a well designed stairwell, encouraging people to use the lifts less and be healthier. The problem is in the fundamental design of the building (which is brand new). How do we present a compelling business case for a stairwell? Through a health-linked initiative like this!

With that in mind, I approached our facilities team to see if we could use our existing infrastructure of staff ID-Pass readers which are positioned at the entry and exit of every stairwell door. It'd be simple enough to read the access data of each 'swipe' of an employees ID pass, along with the time and location, and plot against a leaderboard of floors climbed per day/week similar to the City Peaks challenge already mentioned.

In reality, my initial test/prototype raised a number of issues that we'd need to address in our own business; and which you may also need to address in any roll out of a scheme on the tube or in similar office environments;

Firstly the issues with data protection; people always get a bit concerned when they think they're being tracked around the building. Next up was access to this data. While we generate data on who swipes thier ID where and when, the data isn't owned by our firm. I've been told we'd need to contract (and pay) the third party software provider to get access to the SQL server where this data sits. Then there were liceing issues around this, snowballing in to issues around testing, business continuity and compliance. A headache.

Not impossible, but not as easy a win as I initially thought. Still, I think this has the power to fundamentally change the way people move around buildings and fundamentally the design of a lot of new office buildings.

Best of luck in the considerations for the finals!

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Great stuff Robert – and fascinating issues you've raised here. We're big fans of prototyping and applaud your efforts on this.

Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Such a good idea!
The companies could also save on energy bills as the lift would be used less. I don't think a cash incentive is necessary. Just being able to track your progress would be enough, and to be able to see what other people are achieving.

Good Luck!

Photo of Andrew Li
Team

To improve participation, some financial incentives could help. For example:
1) Cash prizes for the top 3 stairwalkers as registered on the website.
2) 10 pence off your Tube fare if you took the staircase exit in/out of the Tube station.

Photo of Ryan Warnock
Team

I like the idea, however, I think rewarding the top 3 would only act to encourage the fit stay fit. The reduced rail fare incentive is a good idea although it may be hard to organise, plus I don't think it is sensible to encourage people to take the stairs late at night. Alternative suggestions:

1) The monthly leaders of each group of stairwalkers on the website are entered into a prize draw to win cash prize or prize donated by sponsors.
2) 10 pence off tube fair if staircase taken in/out of tube stations - between say 7am and 7pm.

Thanks for the thoughts they are much appreciated, I will add you to the virtual team - please feel free to contribute any other thoughts you have.


Photo of Robert James
Team

I make a point of taking the stairs at the tube station every day (London Bridge - about 80 stairs every morning!!) and I don't think you'd need a cash incentive; after all, the incentive is in getting fitter.

A way to record your cumulative steps, or convert the number of steps in to calories or some other tangible measure would be great. Oyster readers would cause a bottleneck during peak times, as there are often queues just to join the escalators in the mornings.

Thinking about incentives however, you could look at what Nectar (Sainsbury's) do when you bring your own bag; you earn separate 'green' points which can be redeemed in another way. The only challenge is finding a way to record the steps, and prevent abuse of the system. Perhaps personal acknowledgement and benefit is where it starts and finishes?

Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Checkout City Peaks from Digit London: http://digitlondon.com/our-work/project/city-peaks

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Nice find Samuel – and great design they've used. I'm going to let the guys collaborating over on the Climbing Mt Everest concept http://www.openideo.com/open/well-work/concepting/climbing-mount-everest-one-step-at-a-time/ about this as well. Hope to see you on more conversations across the challenge...

Photo of Robert James
Team

I think the ability to compare and convert your efforts in to something tangible like calories / building heights would negate the need to 'pay' a cash incentive. Just look at frequent flier tiers; thousands of people take flights JUST to achieve the next tier; in this case, the next building, and as Alek points out, the 'bragging rights' of getting there.

Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

I saw once @ uni ... the # of burnt calories (printed on each stair step) to encourage people aiming for their health.
The number was increasing as the user was getting to the top of the staircase , summing the last number.

Photo of Robert James
Team

A superb low-cost, low-tech approach to getting the message across. You'd need a different approach for moving stairs / escalators however (perhaps rolling increments every 10-20 stairs: "+ XX calories")

Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

I wonder about the cost of implementing this concept and who would cover the cost. I like the idea of rewarding people for utilizing the stairs and maybe the reduced electricity costs would offset the cost of implementation.
I just wonder about the limited application of only being at the Underground stations and wonder if currently available pedometers or GPS-enabled fitness tracking apps couldn't be utilized to implement a similar idea with less new infrastructure required.

Photo of Scott Womer
Team

As a thought if this became a successful thing. I assume the card readers would be electrically powered. What if there were little weights on the handrails that you could push up as you go up the stairs that could power the card readers as they fell back down to the bottom of the staircase via electrical braking. Each time you pushed one of the weights up you would get more points/discounts etc.

Photo of Ryan Warnock
Team

Really sorry guys, been very busy with job applications and interviews recently... After the weekend I will do a big refinement on this concept as some really interesting things have been pointed out! Please get as many ideas flowing as possible so we can move things forward.

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

This is just awesome, Ryan – and I love how it builds upon an existing platform like the Oyster card (and could be scaled to other locations by building on their own similar cards) One thought I had – to build on your idea of creating healthy competition between friends and co-workers – would be to have stats show who is doing be best my week / month as well as overall. That way folks who haven't done so well overall may still be incentiised to compete to be best of the week / month. Looking forward to seeing more of you across challenge conversations...

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

OMG. Just realised how many spelling mistakes crept into that last comment – the down side of auto-correct! Hopefully you've pieced together what I was on about ;^)

Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Awesome stuff, I like that push this gives to commuters to combine their travel time into getting healthier, and that competition that comes with it. I can already imagine swarms of commuters climbing the stairs at Covent Garden station to win those extra 'bragging rights'. Perhaps it could go even further into the depths of the underground and take into account the smaller sets of staircases the tube has to offer?

Photo of Joel Chan
Team

great idea! nicely leverages the principle of "nudging" (http://www.amazon.com/Nudge-Improving-Decisions-Health-Happiness/dp/014311526X), and lots of interesting opportunities for gamification.

i wonder about funding for reduced fare incentives program(s). perhaps companies can publicly sponsor such a program (the incentive for them would be to demonstrate their commitment to worker wellness), or perhaps these reduced fare programs could be internal to companies (even more "bragging rights")?

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Great builds, Joel!

Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Great way of encouraging people to use the stairs, if you do add the reward idea of taken money off the fair it will enoucourage people even more. It will also keep people fit and healthy at the same time.

Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

I agree with Gul, I think that if there is another reward maybe people will be more encouraged to do it.

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Congrats on being shortlisted to the Top 20 for our Workplace Wellness Challenge!

Our expert panel loved this fun idea! Could customers also get a discount on their Oyster journeys (or a bonus) for taking stairs instead of lifts? How could we work with TFL to reconsider wayfinding to make stairs more compelling than lifts? Perhaps Google The Fun Theory's piano stairs for inspiration as well. How might this be implemented without the need for infrastructure investment? Could you use your phone for example?

Read more on how to get involved with our Refinement phase: http://bit.ly/oi_refine And here's some tips on refining specifically for this challenge: http://bit.ly/wellwork-tips Ready, steady, refine!