Oct 6: Sustainability & Comp Sci seminar on ride sharing

"Why People Don't Want to Share Rides and What We Might Do To Change That" a panel with Jim Morris, Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley; Lorrie Cranor, Institute for Software Research & Dept. of Engineering & Public Policy; and Kusat Ozenc, School of Design.

On average, it takes people 30-40 minutes each way to travel to work in the US, and the vast majority of them travel in a single-occupant car. The goal of this project is to understand both the positive and negative aspects of commuting, and to design a ridesharing service concept that will leverage technology to overcome obstacles that such services have traditionally encountered. We conducted semi-structured interviews with thirty commuters in the Carnegie Mellon University community, including solo drivers, carpoolers and bus riders. We observed that convenience, cost, commute time, and personal preferences motivate commuting choices. Once commuters establish a routine, they tend to continue commuting using their chosen method. We followed up with an online survey on commuting choice and collected responses from 240 participants. We found our previously observed motivations remained significant in the larger population. However, we observed that people who most valued convenience and flexibility tended to be least motivated by cost. We did not find a significant correlation between commuting preference and standard personality types. People characterize their best commute times when they are experiencing "me-time," "traffic-free time," or "routine and ritual time." Based on our interview and survey results and literature review, we developed 13 ride sharing service concepts and tested them in a series of focus groups. We refined the most popular concepts and developed a paper prototype that we are currently testing in a laboratory study. In this presentation we will discuss the motivation for this project and detail our findings to date.

This is part of a seminar series on computer science and sustainability. The goals are to create a forum for discussion of ways in which computer science can and will contribute to sustainability, energy, and the environment, and to foster greater consciousness, conversation, and collaboration in this area. We hope to cast a wide net: topics will include both computer science research relevant to sustainability challenges, as well as research areas in sustainability, energy and the environment which may provide fertile ground for novel work involving computational thinking. Talks may also present mature research in sustainability -- both to increase our general sustainability "literacy" and to generate discussion about how computer science could help advance the work. In all of these areas, we look forward to collaborating with other groups on campus.

While viewed from a computer science perspective, this seminar is deliberately--and necessarily-- interdisciplinary, and we invite both speakers and participants from all areas. We also hope to foster some "meta discussions:" exploring opportunities for collaboration, funding, outreach, and so forth. Please do let us know if you would like to speak in the near future.

3:00 pm in the Rashid Auditorium, Gates & Hillman 4401. To be added to the sustainability mailing list, please send mail to: copetas@cs.cmu.edu .

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