Community Connects

Community Connects is a pilot project that came out of the Transportation Innovation Lab. Problem/Opportunity: Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) is a region with high levels of poverty and unemployment. Innovation: Taxi service, doorstep pick-up, defined drop-off points, flat rate: $7 seat. Why innovative? In short, the approach (social innovation lab) and those that were engaged (first-voice participants).

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

Community Context: Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) is a region with high levels of poverty and unemployment. Twenty percent of those living in the CBRM are considered low income based on the low-income measure after tax rate (LIM-AT), and the region has an unemployment rate of 17.4% (compared to a provincial average of 10%). Evidence of complexities that impact the high rate of unemployment can be observed by the fact that there are also a high number of job vacancies in the region. Thirteen CBRM employers estimated over 1500 job vacancies at the time of interviews. There are diverse and complex reasons for the persistence of both high unemployment and job vacancies, but one of the reasons is limited access to transportation for individuals living in poverty that will get them to and from work reliably, affordably, and in a timely manner.
Project Objectives and Goal:The Transportation Social Innovation Lab objectives, as given by Poverty Reduction:
Explore the following question: “What is the most effective way to provide worker transportation in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) in a sustainable manner?”Assess the Social Innovation Lab approach and provide recommendations and lessons learned for potential future lab initiatives. As the Lab work began, the goal of the project was sharpened by our team:
To connect under- and unemployed individuals in the CBRM with employment opportunities across the Island by identifying one or more potential transportation solutions.
Social Innovation Lab Approach: A social innovation lab is a process of bringing together members of a community to clarify an issue they are facing, and empower them to collectively create and deliver a solution. Social innovation labs put the people affected by the problem at the centre of the process, following a design thinking approach.
In designing our own social innovation lab methodology for the TIL, we identified four main categories of activity:
Verify needs
Generate and evaluate potential solutions
Validate the solution ideas
Recommend one or more solution idea(s)

Key Stakeholders
At the core of our social innovation lab process is the belief that those affected by the problem must be at the centre of creating a solution. As such, we engaged the following groups:
Under- and unemployed individuals living in the CBRM (first voice participants),
Community organizations and advocates working to support these individuals,
Employers seeking to address labour shortages, and
Government officials and staff.

What is the Prototype?
An initial list of over 50 ideas was generated and then reduced to three final ideas for consideration: a point-to-point shuttle (P2P shuttle), a shuttle to transit service, and a communications solution. Upon conducting further research and following two sessions of voting, a single idea was recommended by the group for further investigation in the Lab process.
Point-to-Point Shuttle
A shuttle for the purposes of employment would use a natural aggregation of riders to pick people up at their homes and drop them off for work or skill-building activities.
A flat rate of $5 per seat, one-way.
During the Lab, one local taxi company, who had been testing one employment shuttle route, joined the process and was able to refine and expand their model, informed by and informing the Lab process. As of August 31st, this service offering had been used by 58 unique individuals, with four individuals newly employed thanks to their newfound mobility. Local agencies, such as Department of Community Services (DCS) caseworkers, pre-employment programs, and local employers have supported their clients and staff to use this pre-prototype service.
CBRM Bylaw’s Department was engaged as soon as a solution idea emerged from the Lab to work towards clarity in defining the regulatory framework for this service, and inclusion of all taxi operators in the service expansion.
Support for the Concept
Employers: strong interest from local employers for a shuttle that would provide transportation to enable their employees to get to and from work, such as the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA), Mayflower Mall, and Convergys Call Centre (over 4100 employees represented).
Transit Cape Breton: Has expressed their interest in exploring a partnership in the future.
Organizations: Agencies that help individuals connect to pre-employment programs and work placements have found the service very useful and expressed their support.
Impact of the Transportation Social Innovation Lab
Community Engagement
The strength of the Lab was a direct result of the breadth and mix of stakeholders engaged throughout the process. Over the five month period, 231 project contacts were made, producing meaningful engagement with: 30 employers, 32 community-serving organizations, nine government departments / bodies, and 36 first voice participants.

Innovation Description

Innovation Development

Innovation Reflections

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Year: 2018
Level of government: Local government


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