Infrastructure as social catalyst: Electric vehicle station planning and deployment

Although transportation infrastructure is often recognized as a powerful driver with regard to urban form, it is less frequently recognized for its ability to act as a social and behavioral catalyst. With the demographic shift of people moving to cities and the corresponding increase in competition for the space of transportation infrastructure, as well as the introduction of new technologies to transportation, innovation on how to approach the design of such an important urban component is essential. Here the authors present a project which responds to the question ‘How do you plan and implement an infrastructure for the introduction of a new transportation technology?’ This paper describes the planning, design and deployment of a network of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in British Columbia from a synthetic human-centered design perspective. The project can be used as a reference when discussing holistic approaches to emerging technology based product adoption. In particular, this project focuses on the infrastructure required to support EV uptake and presents a new methodology for planning and deploying EV infrastructure based on a holistic multi-disciplinary approach. The authors' approach considers that the design of new infrastructure is both a social and cultural undertaking as much as it is a technical one. This view of infrastructure design requires a different design perspective and a pedagogical shift to accompany it. The innovation process in a service sector, such as infrastructure design, precedes the innovation in the product and, as such, a study of a novel process is important (Abernathy et al., 1975, Linton and Walsh., 2003). The methodology the authors propose for the deployment of a charging stations network is here presented in all its components, reflecting the approach described. They developed the project from a staged network framework built on the technology adoption curve. The framework is adaptable to an evolving deployment, technology and market timeline. The strategies adopted include context specific station phasing, regional network design, station design and branding, and a phased business model. The deployment plan is based on a GIS analysis of urban form which engages predictive analysis to inform where the infrastructure will have the most impact. Ultimately, the case presented demonstrates a complex set of variables involved in the design of infrastructure for emerging technologies, thus contributing to the argument for synthetic design in the study of innovations.


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  • Accession Number: 01748869
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 5 2020 3:55PM