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UID students collaborate to create new solutions for travel and transport in rural areas

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Within the UNESCO programme 'Man and the Biosphere' the project explores new solutions for sustainable mobility for tourism and food transport in the Vindelälven-Juhtatdahka area.

On September 1, Region Västerbotten launched its pilot study MOBEVI, which will be carried out in collaboration with students from Umeå Institute of Design. The project explores new solutions for sustainable mobility for tourism and food transport in the Vindelälven-Juhtatdahka area. The region is a candidate for the UNESCO programme 'Man and the Biosphere', an initiative developed to safeguard ecosystems while promoting innovative approaches to sustainable economic development.

The project aims towards creating accessibility by other means of transportation than by car, thereby opening up for more visitors while supporting more sustainable modes of transportation. In addition, in order for small-scale food production and restaurants with locally produced food to flourish, better opportunities for transport are needed. 

"We are proud of the support we are receiving in this project by the Swedish Transport Administraion and the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth in our efforts to get more people to visit great places and eat good food in our region, says Bianca Byring, project manager at Region Västerbotten. To do this together with Umeå Institute of Design and with support from other associations, companies and authorities is inspiring. It will be a big challenge and cooperation must be at the heart of the project."

Annika Sandström, manager of regional tourism at Region Västerbotten, explains the importance of rural areas becoming more accessible

- It affects the traveler's experience greatly and it enables the development of competitive and vital businesses in our vast region. Within the project, the goal of gaining greater accessibility is matched by the vision for a reduced environmental impact from transportation. We are therefore both keen and happy to be part of this initiative, which clearly aims at strengthening sustainable development in our region"

Christoffel Kuenen, director for the Master's Programme in Interaction Design at Umeå Institute of Design, will be guiding his students through the project. As an interaction designer, he approaches the problem from the point of view of the prospective user.

"In order to truly achieve sustainable transport and travel, we must focus on understanding the needs of people. If we are to develop mobility and transport in rural areas in a significant way, I don't think it's enough to focus on new technology and a good organization. As interaction designers, we give form to how we as people interact with products and services, and how people meet in these systems. That's how we believe we can contribute towards creating sustainable solutions."