Service for the city of Copenhagen - bringing recognition and assistance to vulnerable travellers with creating safe and reliable public transport.


The project took place during 5-day service design workshops in Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design CIID and was driven by 17 UN sustainable goals. Our task was to ‘DESIGN A SERVICE FOR 2025 THAT WOULD INCREASE THE DESIRABILITY OF SHARED TRANSPORTATION AND WOULD IMPROVE QUALITY OF LIFE IN COPENHAGEN’.

Image of people during workshops


I was in a team of 4 participants from different backgrounds – public sector, business and strategy. My role was to conduct research, analyse data, create an empathy map, ideate and prototype a comprehensive service.



  1. Safari service + User Journey Mapping + Mapping the Ecosystem
  2. Guerrilla Interviews + Card Sorting + Fly-on-the-wall observation
  3. Synthesis + Insights + Opportunities


  1. Ideation + Concept Development
  2. Prototyping + Testing


In the 6 years I have been sick, I have had maybe 5 good experiences on the train – said a girl with MS

Drawing of an old man Drawing of a pregnant woman Drawing of a person on a wheelchair Drawing of a woman with kids

Vulnerable passengers, like disabled, elderly people, or passengers with temporary needs, like patients with fractures, pregnant women, have problems with being legible. They do not get the assistance they need, when using public transportation in Copenhagen.


We created a multi-actor solution called HELPING HAND to empower vulnerable travellers while using public transportation, bring recognition and assistance to them by creating reliable service. Our aim was to reframe public transportation as experienced by people, not by business segments.

We designed service connecting:

  • users – passengers with special needs, owners of restaurants, cinemas, shops and other commercial services
  • providers – public transportation, doctors and hospitals
  • stakeholders – local authorities.
  1. Service starts at the doctor's or at the hospital when you are diagnosed as a person with special needs. You are signed into a program Helping Hand, and you get a special travel card or access to the application which helps you, for example:
    • get a required seat, even on a crowded bus
    • have more time to get on/off the bus
    • be offered help while getting on/off the bus
  2. At the bus stop
    • you only place your card on the special card reader or use the application to inform the system that you need help
    • On the bus the driver gets a notification: ‘A passenger with special needs is waiting at the bus stop and is about to board’
    • At the same time there are voice and visual notifications on, for other passengers travelling ‘A passenger with special needs is about to board and requires a priority seat. Please offer your seat. Thank you’
  3. The collected data can be used by, e.g. public transportation while scheduling busses or local authorities while making decisions about improving the infrastructure (in districts where more elderly people live, infrastructure should be improved - build ramps, lifts)
  4. Business potential of the project is that more service providers like e.g. restaurants, shops, can co-create the service ecosystem especially in the aging western society. They can slowly take responsibility for their customer travel to the place where service is provided so as to improve the quality of their services and gain more customers.


Passengers – are empowered while using transportation so they use it more willingly and often

Local authorities – have knowledge about the actual needs of citizens and have the possibility to take better tailored actions

Owners of other services (restaurants, cinemas, museums, …) – have more customers from the specific, hard-to-get-to sector of clients (which would be important in the ageing western societies)



  1. Service safari + User Journey Mapping + Mapping the Ecosystem

    We started our research with SERVICE SAFARI to experience the service as a user and by using different forms of public transportation: electric bike, scooter, bus, shared bike, underground train. We tried to check every touchpoint of interaction with the service and several delivery channels.

    Our group were supposed to experience travelling by electric bike Bycyklen. We focused on CONTEXT – time, place, weather, emotion, ARTEFACTS – products, devices, screens, STAKEHOLDERS – customers, companies, enterprise.

    We created JOURNEY MAP - what we have learnt:

    • the best experience was during the service itself – passing by all other biking people thanks to electrical drive, very good infrastructure, satisfying navigation
    • the worst experience was before – interaction with the device attached to the bike: touchscreen was delayed, it was refreshing in the middle of the filling up the form, it was difficult to pull the bike out of the rack because of the weight of the bike

    This helped us to MAP THE ECOSYSTEM after we started to create an initial typology referring to the providers of the service:


    We found out that Copenhagen already has highly developed public transportation compared to other European cities; there are lots of possibilities, infrastructure is very good, many people use sustainable transportation.

    During brainstorming and discussing the level of importance, when making a decision which groups of transportation to choose, we decided to change the typology. We focused more on the BEHAVIOUR and MOTIVATION of users. We have changed the initial typology to:


    With this typology, we discovered service actors: USERS, SERVICE PROVIDERS, SYSTEMS & REGULATIONS, MATERIALS & THINGS.

  2. Guerrilla Interviews + Card Sorting + Shadowing

    We did 20 GUERRILLA INTERVIEWS which helped us to gain insights into the behaviour of the people we were designing for; learn what was really needed, not just what we thought was needed. We split into sub-teams, to talk to different users. We went not only to the main junction in Copenhagen during rush hours but also to the suburbs, parks or cafes to hear from multiple perspectives.

    During the interviews, we used methods of 5 WHYS to funnel a conversation using open-end questions, from general questions to emotional, from broad to specific. We also used CADR SORTING to quickly rank participants’ preferences.

    Not only wanted we the stated preferences but also real behaviour, context and unexpressed needs, so we used FLY-ON-THE-WALL method to observe travellers.

  3. Synthesis + Insights + Opportunities

    From interviews, observations and discussions we clustered:


      Many travellers with special needs struggle to get the help and assistance they need when using public transportation.


      Copenhagen is very convenient for a lot of people but not at all for me, there is not much help here. I ride the train 2-3 once per week and most have a bad experience. It’ s hard for me to navigate and get around here – a girl with MS.

      Taking the bus with my kids is more stressful for me than getting on the metro because the bus, for comparison, is unpredictable. In metro, I know the movement of the vehicle. There is even a special sound when the doors close, so I know it’s about to move. – Renate, 42

      In metro people ask each other for help – Tobias, 34


      At the overcrowded bus stop: a lady with a stroller set herself at the beginning of the bus stop, apart from other groups of people. While the bus arrived, she caught the eye contact with the driver and pointed with her hand at herself and the stroller.


      HMW bring recognition and assistance for vulnerable travellers with creating safe and reliable space while travelling with public transportation.


      Mobility is a form of self-expression which allows users to commute and embody their values.


      I like to cycle, because it is also exercise, being outside. I am in control and waste less time – Electra, 29

      I didn’t realize I like alone travel time on a bus or metro until I lost it – Electra, 29


      HMW convince fixed travellers to use alternative shared transportation with both a great level of reliability and varied experiences.


  1. Ideation + Concept Development

    We used crazy8s method to generate ideas. We gathered them into themes, similarly to how we organised our research.

    Sketches of ideas

    We were looking for simple ideas with a clear outcome for the customer. We decided to focus on vulnerable travellers who, even in a city like Copenhagen, struggle while using public transportation.

    The most important challenges and questions which occurred during the development process:

    Who should qualify people for the group with social needs? Because of a high need of credibility, we decided the doctor should qualify their patients.

    Freedom of choice It is very important to give people the opportunity not to use this service (e.g. when a person has a good day and does not need any extra help).

    Who should own the platform? Healthcare data is very valuable and vulnerable so it should stay with local authorities, who would be the owner of the platform.

    Form of the service We started with an application, and then we decided to add a physical card. It is more reliable as it also works when the phone is not charged and may be readily used by elderly people or others technologically illiterate.

    Not stigmatizing We started with an idea of a pin saying 'please offer me a seat'. However, during the iterations and interviews, it turned out that people don’t want to be stigmatized, they preferred something less visible.

    Funding We struggled with this question until we agreed on the controlled commercial use of the data.

    The service has great commercial potential because it connects hard-to-reach users with service providers.

    Data security Users safety is the priority here; that is why all the data would be secret.

  2. Prototyping + Testing

    We prototyped at an early stage and at low fidelity to check the main value of our service and to learn things we don’t know.

    We set the scene by building a bus. We wanted to know:

    • if travellers with special needs would be offered a seat and help, following the improvement of the existing infrastructure on the bus stops and inside the buses by adding signs, light and voice notifiers
    • how other, non-vulnerable users of public transport would feel and behave

    We also prototyped the enrolment process – we sent e-mails and messages, which patients could receive from their doctors to sort out the desirability of the service.

    During the testing we tried to check the customers’ total perception of the outcome, which ‘is the service’.

    Here you can see a video from testing.

    • passengers on the bus felt more comfortable because they were no longer responsible for deciding if a person needs to be offered a seat or not (e.g. an elderly, fit and healthy person can be offended by this kind of offer, on the other hand, a young woman in her second month of pregnancy, feeling ill, may not be recognised as a person who should be offered a seat)
    • notifications were a confirmation for people on the bus that a passenger with special needs is waiting at a next stop, so they did not need to see that person before they got up
    • vulnerable passengers did not have to show or prove, that they are eligible for a priority seat
    • because the announcement went before the vulnerable passenger went on the bus, they felt comfortable and just took a seat
    • both voice and visual notifications should be used as some passengers tend to read or listen to the music while commuting
    • notifications should be done possibly earlier to give time to the passengers to change their seats
    • it was not clear whether only one person with special needs would board or more
    • notification may draw too much attention to the boarding passengers