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DISCOVERY / USER RESEARCH / STRATEGY / SERVICE DESIGN

department for transport NTEM discovery.

We worked with the DfT Transport Appraisal and Strategic Modelling team and Fred Ewing to explore the next generation of the National Trip End Model (NTEM) and its users and explore its future.

Client
Department for Transport
Who they are
The public sector body of the UK government that oversees all transport matters.
What they do
They work with agencies and partners to support the transport network that helps UK businesses, and gets people and goods travelling around the country. They plan and invest in transport infrastructure to keep the UK on the move.
Location
UK Wide
“By completing this Discovery we will understand how and why our users engage with the NTEM model, how we could better meet those needs now and how NTEM can continue to underpin robust analysis, supporting the delivery of better transport for the public, in the future.”
Project Vision

Problem

The National Trip End Model (NTEM) datasets are long-term forecasts they represent the Department’s best estimate of the long-term response to demographic and economic trends. They are viewed as an essential resource in the transport planning and modelling community.

The current NTEM has been in place for many years and the most recent version, 7.2, dates from 2016. The Department for Transport (DfT) recognises that user needs have changed along with technology. This means there is an opportunity to establish what the next generation of NTEM and supporting services need to be.

The DfT Transport Appraisal and Strategic Modelling team commissioned Hive IT to carry out a 6-week research project. This was to better understand the needs of users of the NTEM model and TEMPro (the associated software), and to identify options for the future direction of the service.

Result

Over a period of only six weeks, we engaged with over one hundred and fifty users and stakeholders using our well proven interview, survey and workshop techniques. This meant we were able to immerse ourselves in the complex, esoteric world of transport modelling, develop a deep understanding of the people and public policy as well as the tools and techniques that underpin it.

We worked with Fred Ewing, using his extensive network to engage with users across a wide range of public and private sector organisations.

This allowed us to provide a well received range of short, medium and long term strategic recommendations, delivered by a detailed report and presentations to two project boards.

Approach

Hive IT ran the discovery phase using the GDS (Government Digital Service) agile methodology. As a discovery, the methodology works towards identifying users of a service and their context, their constraints and accessibility requirements, then using that information to make informed decisions about the next stages — should there be an identified need. The discovery also provides the building blocks for further work should this be the case.

The emphasis of this discovery phase was understanding:

  • Who the users of the Department for Transport’s NTEM model are?
  • What they need?
  • Where the NTEM model is currently meeting, exceeding or failing to meet those needs?
  • How NTEM can continue to support the future development of transport planning?
Pulling together a representative list of users

Research

We broke the discovery down into 3 phases over 6 weeks in February and March 2020. The phases of the project were as follows:

Phase 1 : The DfT, NTEM and its current users

Understanding the current situation, landscape and research to date around the NTEM model. Workshops and interviews with DfT stakeholders

Phase 2: Engaging with users

This consisted of internal and external research with users and other stakeholders. We used qualitative and quantitative methods, primarily in depth interviews and surveys.

Phase 3: Analysis and documentation

This consisted of workshops to analyse our results with stakeholders. We then formed recommendations and wrote the report and presentations.

table of engaged users split by type and sector

key findings

Part of the remit of this project was to look at the long term future of NTEM. The most important recommendation we gave is that it must continue to exist in some form. In driving consistency in appraisals and providing reliable long range forecasting while providing useful and unique data it is an essential part of the toolset for transport modellers and analysts nationwide.

Areas where user needs were not fully met included a desire from the community for more engagement and transparency and improvements to the associated documentation and guidance. We identified strong needs for updates to occur more often and on a set schedule, as well as a variety of potential enhancements.

Making sense of our findings

Our advice

To meet the needs of its users, we recommended a series of projects of varying timescales to take NTEM suitable for use into the future. The major projects included moving the guidance and TEMPro online as web based services, and re-writing the model itself as an open source project using open source data. These ranged from further focused discovery projects to alphas and betas, depending on the current state of the service area.

The finished product

We’ve talked at a high level about our research, findings and recommendations here. You can find more details in the published Department for Transport NTEM.

Finally seeing all our work come together