Introducing the MUV-app through organisations

Gatekeepers are very important to reach target groups. A gatekeeper can be a person but also an organisation. An organisation already has a community. People are more willing, more receptive for the idea if it comes from an organisation they already trust. If you have the support of an organisation, as a researcher, the gap with your target group is smaller.

Very important in selecting your organisation are shared values. If not, there is no advantage for each party (nor the researcher, nor the organisation). So find your common ground.

The school as an organisation

In Ghent MUV engaged a primary school to introduce the MUV-app to citizens, more specific the parents.

Freinetschool de Loods is a small school in the middle of the pilot neighborhood. The school has high values regarding a healthy & safe environment. They participate in strikes for the environment, work hard to have a good relation with the parents to be an inclusive school and each year they have ‘A week of the Bicycle’.

The school is a real neighborhood school. Many children come on foot or by bike.

They educate children to be safe in traffic during the Week of the Bicycle. They encourage children to bike to school. They did a big effort to ask the city for more bicycle storage in front of the school.

‘The school will use the data of MUV to learn which crossroads and routes to school are used by children. During the Week of the Bicycle we will go to these crossroads with the children and educate them there how to cross it in a safe way.’

Els, second grade teacher.

Campaign ‘Show us the way’ in the school.

MUV started a campaign in the school for the parents. The importance of safe routes to school was stressed in this communication. Parents were asked to use the app during one specific week. The communication channels of the school were used to reach the parents: the newsletter, the School Board Meeting and the Facebook Group. MUV created handouts and posters that were distributed in the School.

MUV created a Special Training in the MUV-app. If they used the app 4 times in a row during MUV-week, they received a free coffee in the local coffee bar. This incentive was inspired by the school. After dropping the kids off, parents can stay in the school to have a coffee and a chat. Parents complained sometimes about the quality of the coffee. So offering a specialty coffee in the coffee bar was an appropriate gift.

Outcome of the Campaign

The campaign was very well received by the parents and the school. They were interested and willing to participate. There were some obstacles: no smartphone, children that went alone to school and language barriers. There were learnings about the user experience of the app and ideas to create safer school routes.

The collected data revealed that a particular square is vital in the route to school, for bikers and pedestrians. But this area has also heavy car traffic during school hours. There are no crossing places marked on the road on certain points. These are important remarks to be made to mobility managers of the City.

The use of a school as a gatekeeper towards citizens was a good choice to make. The contact with our target group was so much easier. It also gave an extra value to the MUV-app. The introduction of the App was the data, not the game. However some parents kept on using the app during the City Tournament that was launched during the same period. So, that was a win/win situation for MUV in Ghent.