NEWS - 2023/10/31

Promoting Safe School Travel Across Europe

The sCOOL2walk project, led by CARNET and supported by the city councils of Barcelona, Malta, and Riga, aims to promote safe travel for children and young people. Its primary goal is to encourage students to go to school through a web application that fosters collaboration between parents and students. This initiative will be implemented in various schools across Europe, including Siggiewi Primary School in Malta, Col·legi Sant Ramon Nonat in Barcelona, and Rïgas 45th Secondary School in Riga.

The digital mobile application allows students and parents who walk to school to connect with each other and commute together. In May, workshops were conducted in the three pilot schools to define the essential application requirements tailored to each school’s specific needs. The participation of parents and students proved invaluable in identifying different concerns and emphasizing the necessity for safer routes.

The diverse school contexts provide a rich sources of information regarding the various needs, perspectives, and requirements of parents, students, and other members of the school community. This diversity ensures that both the methodology for designing the application and the application itself are highly adaptable and can be replicated in other schools and regions facing similar challenges in school mobility. The variations are primarily due to the type of user each school caters to, the characteristics of the school, and the city’s unique attributes. For example, in Siggiewi, Malta, a smaller city, concerns were raised about inadequate pedestrian infrastructure. In Barcelona, a larger city with a substantial population, the focus was on a specific user group: adolescents, who perceived a sense of insecurity while walking to school, particularly among female students. In Riga, despite being a capital city, its compact size emphasized the independence of children in their commutes.

sCOOL2walk’s adaptability to small and medium-sized cities underscores its versatility and potential to benefit a wide array of cities globally, regardless of their size or population, making it an exceptionally scalable and applicable tool for diverse urban environments.

A critical feature illustrating the project’s scalability is the capacity for each educational institution to create customized routes that cater to their specific needs, promoting active user engagement. This dynamic enables users, especially those for whom predefined routes may not be ideal, to propose and join new routes that better suit their individual circumstances.

This participatory approach not only enhances the user experience by allowing active involvement in solution design but also enriches the route database, rendering it more comprehensive and diverse. The addition of more routes enhances the application’s robustness and adaptability, ensuring that the project not only scales geographically but also evolve and remains responsive to changing local user needs, endowing the application with a high degree of autonomy.

Throughout its development, the sCOOL2walk project has advanced through Technology Readiness Levels (TRL). Beginning at TRL 6, the project commenced, and with the insights gathered from the workshops, it progressed to TRL 7 when initiating the pilot phase in October 2023. Continuous improvement, addressing detected issues and other needs during this phase, has allowed the project to advance to TRL 8. These tests, conducted in real-world urban scenarios across the three cities, demonstrate the technology’s adaptability to different urban contexts. The sCOOL2walk project’s ultimate objective is to achieve TRL 9 by December 2023, aligning with the project’s conclusion and ensuring that the final product is ready for commercialization and implementation in numerous cities worldwide.

Project co-funded by EIT Urban Mobility.