| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
- The City of Changwon set out to highlight the Nubija program’s convenience and easy accessibility. They changed “Nubija” into an acronym that stood for “Nearby Useful Bicycle. Interesting, Joyful Attraction.” As ridership patterns shifted, the city monitored changes and made adaptations to ensure an efficient system that met rider’s needs. These goals were achieved through public outreach efforts, a successful public relations campaign, and improvements in the physical hardware and infrastructure, all of which resulted in a surge in ridership numbers.
Nubija Administrative System Improvements
-Because Nubija was an unmanned public bicycle system that combined new IT with bicycles and bicycle infrastructure, moving forward with existing administrative legislation and regulations was difficult. There were particular difficulties in administrating the development and use of the IT technologies that were applied to the public bicycle system. When formulating the system management plans, a variety of logistics required examination like fee collection, member management, processing personal information, and a variety of other factors. New policies were created, examined, and strengthened.
The Construction of a System With Easy Use and Management
Unmanned, open-air Nubija terminals were constructed in areas with high population density and high foot traffic. Each new Nubija terminal had electricity, telecommunication and civil engineering needs that had to be met. However, because many of these Nubija terminal requirements had not existed in these areas previously, the city had to implement new construction methods to meet the program’s requirements.
A Strategic Public Relations Push Encouraged an Increase in Ridership
When Nubija was initially introduced, ridership rates were low due to a lack of promotion and citizen awareness. To address this, the city, alongside local advocacy groups, publicized Nubija’s convenience and its many advantages to citizens through a variety of media and city-sponsored events. As a result, Nubija’s image and usage increased in popularity
- The following is a timeline of Nubija’s development, from planning stages to citywide implementation
▹ March 2008 - June 2008
• The city begins examining public bicycle programs from overseas to better understand system successes and to learn from past system setbacks.
• The city examines designs, functions, and the production costs of all the system components.
• The city examines plans for system production and management.
▹ July 2008 - September 2008
• Designs and the production of components of the system begin and main functions are established.
• The name “Nubija” is selected from a public contest and is adopted by the city.
• Usage plans and the fee systems are established.
• Nubija’s operational format is decided.
▹ October 2008 - December 2008.
• Marketing efforts aimed at increasing Nubija memberships are strengthened and service improvement plans arise.
• Nubija is launched and an ongoing process of expanding terminal construction to facilitate increased ridership begins (2008 – present).
• On May 3rd, President Lee Myung-bak, along with several other high government officials, come to Changwon and partake in a special bike ride to test out the Nubija public bicycle system firsthand.
• The Nubija management center expands and a separate maintenance center is built in Changwon’s most densely populated neighborhood to most efficiently accommodate the Nubija system’s maintenance needs.
• Nubija usage plans are changed to better fit the system’s needs and service improvements were made.
▹ 2010 and Beyond
• The Changwon Bicycle Racing Public Corporation overtakes the managing operation of Nubija and expands its managerial infrastructure and capabilities.
• Advertising becomes stronger and more effective resulting in an increase in Nubija memberships.
• System efficiency, patent acquisition and patent application all increase, resulting in the creation of five patents.
| 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Using Citizen Voices to Help Improve Changwon’s Commitment to the the Environment
- In October 2006, Changwon proclaimed that it would become “an environmental capital city.” The city sought ways to bolster bicycle ridership as means of transportation within the city. The mayor of Changwon chose to put his commitment to the environment into practice by riding his bike to and from work for two years.
- Also, since Nubija’s creation, citizens have been able to directly voice their opinions on the program to the mayor and Changwon city policy experts via Changwon City’s homepage and through a variety of social networking outlets. The mayor and City Hall reviewed citizen concerns and hosted town hall style meetings.
New Departments Created to Better Facilitate Policy Development and Management
- In 2008, The City of Changwon opened its newly formed “Bicycle Policy Department.” This department was the first of its kind in the entire nation and was created to handle all of the city’s public bicycle-related matters. Changwon appointed the nation’s first Municipal Bicycle Policy Specialist to head the department.
- The Nubija system continued to grow so much that it quickly needed it own specific managing organization. Currently over 100 employees work with to Nubija.
Community Groups Help Nubija Form Policy and Lead Pushes to Increase Ridership
The City formed a ‘Committee for Invigorating Bicycle Ridership,’ an organization led by local cycle enthusiasts and bicycle experts, and shared ideas about Nubija including its design, fare charges, operational methods, time limits, station locations and other factors, which would ultimately help shape program and policy implementation.
- The participation of members from local bicycle organizations, lead to public excitement and bolstered media coverage. Nubija put forth various kinds of cycle advocacy campaigns and an aggressive public relations push to increase interest among citizens.
| 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The City Used Its Own Funds, National Grants and Public-Private Partnerships to Efficiently Fund the Nubija Program
- From 2008 to 2013, The City of Changwon spent US$11.5 million on Nubija terminals and system construction, and US$3 million on Nubija bikes. The City of Changwon carried out the Nubija system using funds from its own local government budget. However from 2010 to 2012, Changwon was selected as one of the 10 foothold cities by the national government, thereby receiving close to an extra US$3 million in grants to support its Nubija construction costs. These national grants are included when reflecting project costs.
- To reduce costs of purchasing Nubija bikes, the city sought to create partnerships with private sector companies and asked for their participation in helping to purchase and donating bikes to the Nubija program. With each donation, the logo of the donating business was prominently display on each Nubija bike. Companies used this as a way to advertise how their business was creating a positive difference in the community, thus improving its public perception. Donating funds for these Nubija bike purchases was also a tax write off for the companies. As a result of these public-private partnerships, Nubija received a total of 1,732 Nubija bikes from four different corporations, reducing purchasing costs by US$1 million.
Changwon Used Experts, City Resources and Its Community to Further Nubija’s Success
- The city developed supplemental technologies that improved customer access and user experience, that were quickly incorporated into the management system.
- To further develop the Nubija system’s technology and management, the city’s newly hired Municipal Bicycle Policy Specialist collaborated with the Nubija management office’s IT engineers to strengthen the system.
- Also, members of the cycling organizations such as “The Changwon Bicycle Federation” and “The Changwon City Council for Bicycle Encouragement” helped lead aggressive public relations campaigns and activities advocating for citizens using Nubija for commuting, shopping and other daily activities.
| 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
Low Program Fees Resulted in Higher Participation and Services Were Expanded to Foreigners Living in Changwon
- The city established Nubija in order to create an economic, eco-friendly mode of transportation available for all Changwon citizens. As a result, the daily average use of the Nubija system dramatically increased, as shown here:
241 checkouts (2008)→3,721 checkouts (2009)→5,986 checkouts (2010)→12,705 checkouts (2011)→15,894 checkouts (2012). In fall of 2012 daily usage was close to 25,000 checkouts per day.
- Because of its emerging economy and many factories, Changwon is home to many non-Korean foreign residents. The Nubija program was extended to foreigners.
Efficiency Helps to Transform Nubija’s Administrative Policies
- Newly hired cycle infrastructure employees, like cycle mechanics, delivery drivers and kiosk electronic repair staff, joined Nubija to help the organization meet increasing system demands.
- Nubija switched from being a vertically run organization, with the city government leading and implementing its policy and ideas, toward adopting a horizontal policy that placed value on civilian input and criticisms. This helped make the Nubija system more competitive, innovative, and better suited for the public’s needs.
- Nubija won the 15th Annual “Brands of Korea” Grand Prize. This award was decided by private enterprises, and specifically honors an organization’s brand value and brand management.
System Technology Maximizes Time and Cost Efficiency
- Because Nubija is a public service for all Changwon citizens, it was inevitable that there would be more civil complaints compared to other general administrative services. To create a more integrated and user-friendly experience, Nubija let customers access information and voice their thoughts through its website, an automated hotline, smartphone applications, and a variety of other forms of social media.
- These forms of customer service and outreach made the system more financially efficient and made Nubija staff more efficient in the work place. Consider the following example:
A citizen discovers the ‘Nubija’ bike he/she has is in need of repair. They flag the bike on their ‘Nubija’ app on their smartphone, a delivery truck picks up the damaged bike from the terminal, the bike is repaired in the repair center, put back on a truck, and finally back into a terminal.
This was all done without a single phone call, thereby freeing up employee time and increasing worker efficiency.
| 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Constantly Assessing Customer Satisfaction Helps Nubija Create the Best System for Its Citizens
- Since Nubija’s beginning, the city had always sought to collect public opinion from riders and non-riders in the community to build a system that best meets residents’ needs. As mentioned before, this had been done through in-person and online surveys, the Nubija website, smartphone applications, and a variety of other forms of social media.
- At the end of each year, Nubija uses its customer survey results to evaluate its levels of customer satisfaction in the areas of usage patterns, inconveniences, needed improvements, prospective terminals for the following year, and overall of satisfaction.
- During these year-end evaluations, Nubija examines areas where usage was particularly high, in order to uncover specific reasons for its success. The hope is to learn from these successes and emulate this success in areas with low usage. This constant gathering of customer data allows Nubija to learn from user behavior and thereby create an improved system that is better equipped to meet the needs of it citizens.
Using System Technology to Address and Monitor Maintenance Issues
- Changwon continued to develop newer and better ways to make its system run more efficiently, particularly with regard to identifying and repairing bikes in need of maintenance. Nubija improved how it identified bikes in of repair, making Nubija a more a convenient user experience for customers. Users could report bike maintenance issues via the Nubija smartphone application, the Nubija call center, or at any Nubija terminal, using the terminal’s touch-screen kiosk. Technology was also developed that allowed the system to predict, when a certain bike was in need of repair from usage patterns. If a bike is checked out and then returned within 30 seconds, and this happens three times, its ID code is flagged and is designated as in need of repair. These modals help make a better more efficient system.
- As mentioned earlier this process can run at peak efficiency whereby no phone calls are integral. A bike is flagged as damaged, the flagged bike ID code appears on every delivery truck’s onboard tablet computer, and then the bike is picked up and delivered to the Nubija repair center.
| 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
A Lack of Program Understanding Led to Opposition From Citizens
- When Changwon began its early construction of Nubija terminals, citizens near construction sites opposed the terminals, due to a lack of understanding of the project. To address this issue, the city rolled out a public relations campaign to help persuade locals about convenience of public bicycles. New construction practices were applied to minimize impact on the neighborhoods and in neighborhoods with the strongest opposition, the mayor of Changwon directly met with residents to address concerns.
The Trial and Error of Developing the Nubija Program
- Because Nubija was the country’s first ever self-developed public bicycle system, it was inevitable that its initial stages would be a series of trial-and-error. However through this accumulated knowledge, the Nubija management team was able to quickly make their system better and more efficient year after year. In addition, by developing IT technology that was both highly advanced and homegrown in Changwon, the Nubija system was able to tout its success as local, creative, internationally competitive, and most importantly, uniquely Korean.
Minimizing Operational Costs
- Public bicycle systems in other cities are commonly implemented by private companies, and cultivate funding entirely through users. Nubija, however, is a not-for-profit organization that is funded by the city government, with user fees making back a modest 20% of the program’s yearly funding. As Nubija usage continued rising, operational costs continued to increase. To reduce the financial burden of increasing operational costs, while not raising user membership fees (to maintain the program’s popularity), the government constantly sought ways to minimize operational costs. To cut costs, the city used an in-house developed IT system, donated Nubija bikes from public-private partnerships and expanded its marketing efforts to a variety of target income brackets to boost membership registrations.