What I did on World Usability Day 2008

I took the Global Transport Challenge and tested my carbon footprint, and I got my brain cells nicely stimulated with 2 seminars. I also discovered once more that I really should get much more training with my camera….

I learned that my carbon footprint for my transport to and from work is 1.2 kg. That covers walking to the station from my home, taking the metro, switching to a train, then walking from the station to my office. If your carbon footprint needs improvement, the Global Transport Challenge provides many tips about getting from here to there in a more eco-friendly manner.

While taking the Global Transport Challenge for WUD2008, I discovered a usability issue: how were you supposed to measure the distances for walking, bicycling, driving, and so on? OK, the car has an odometer, but who thinks about distance in a bus or a train? With those forms of transport, I only think about time – how long does the bus ride take from here to there? I used a running site to help measure distances!

The big event for me on WUD2008 was attending two seminars held at the IT University in Copenhagen. One was about Cultural Usability (not very Transport-oriented!), and the other was about Transport (much more on topic!).

The seminars were kicked off by a dramatic event – the arrival of a fire engine to what I think was a false alarm. I thought it was the perfect motif for a WUD2008 photo!

Fire engine kicking off WUD2008 theme at ITU!
Fire engine kicking off WUD2008 theme at ITU!

I’ll blog about the seminars in a separate post. Right now, it seems more appropriate to throw in the pictures from the end of my day. The repairs on the Copenhagen Metro were coincidentally that very evening. The management and logistics of carrying out repairs on an active train network is extremely tricky. On some week nights, the metro is not open between midnight and 5 AM. That is 5 hours of work that could be completed. Of course, sometimes you need more time, so how do you make a suitable schedule where you interrupt the flow of people throughout the city as little as possible? From my perspective, it looks like that was one of the questions that was raised before deciding on this time and date.

I didn’t think to take photos at Nørreport Station (the start of my journey home) because my thoughts were probably still on the great conversations I had had. As my train approached Frederiksberg Station, an announcement was made to tell everyone to leave the train because it was not continuing on to more stations. When the Metro has repairs, certain stations become switching points. Frederiksberg was one of them. You got off, and if you had to continue, you waited until a train came from the opposite direction to help you continue on your journey.

People waiting to change trains at the Frederiksberg Metro Station
People waiting to change trains at the Frederiksberg Metro Station
Close-up of the sign notifying customers of the delays with the train service on November 13
Close-up of the sign notifying customers of the delays with the train service on November 13

(You’ll find an English explanation about the sign on Flickr.)

I could feel my inner child ooh and aah at the machines lined up behind the glass on the opposite side of the platform from me.

The repair trains in the Metro
The repair trains in the Metro
Six more hours before the job is done and the Metro is back to normal
Six more hours before the job is done and the Metro is back to normal

If you are interested in more photos from World Usability Day 2008, search for the tag “WUD2008” on Flickr.

Enough for today. More to follow soon about cultural usability and international trends in the transport, travel, and mobility sectors – as well as sustainable design.

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