Apps and the morality of driving

When the province of North Brabant asked for asphalt we convinced them that a piece of software might be a better answer to their needs. The province issued a request for tender concerning the reconstruction a notoriously jammed and dangerous provincial road in the south-east of Holland. As usual, the winning bid would be the most economic combination, but in this case 'Credit Points' could be earned and 'deducted' from the bid by proposing sustainability measures. Unsurprisingly all teams came up with solar panels and wind turbines and so did our combination. But in addition, we also offered to develop a device that would really affect the environment: an App that will aggregate the driving behaviour off all drivers on that particular road and advise the individual drivers Real Time on how they actually drive and how they should drive on this particular moment. Since the App 'knows' everything', the App will be able to instruct the driver accordingly in order to avoid traffic jams, accidents, red lights etc.

Is it possible that Road Design affords sensible, safe or even righteous and moral behaviour at the wheel?

We called the App Flowman. Flowman picks up engine metrics that are available through the On Board Diagniostic system (Abbreviated to OBD. Unless you drive a classic, your car has one stashed away somewhere in your dash). The team connected a WiFi transmitter to this port turning the interior of our testcar into a DataSpace. The Flowman App reads these metrics and  assesses how clean, safe or sensible the car was driving. The innovative aspect is that Flowman does not only consider YOUR driving behaviour but also the car in front of you as well as all others who have passed that trajectory in space and time. On the basis of this aggregated data, it calculates a personal desired driving plan and adapts its feedback continuously based on your actual response. Individual drivers can access te Flowman database to get access to their indiviual logs and stats and compare these with the rest of the population.


In a team with architects, landscapers and Information architects, Reframing Studio reframed the assignment which was geared towards Construction and 'Earth moving Logistics': The team aimed at an expressway that affords smoother flow, less jams, lower speeds thus affecting sustainability in a considerable way. A coherent plan was created in which landscape architects designed an open, uncluttered environment matching the uncultivated sandy tracts supporting low vegetation (typically coarse grasses and Ericaceae) and occasionally scattered tree growth, particularly Pine. Together with Lighting systems and Road signs specially designed for this road, it sets a stage communicating a Green Road. The real sustainability gain is realized by the motorist due to the optimized driving behaviour afforded by Flowman. This road (N239) inspired 'road design' and serves as a reference for the future.

A very important conclusion was that the potential benefits of sustainability measures such as adding devices that generate or capture and store energy are marginal in comparison with the behavioural aspects of driving: even a very modest improvement in speed or less de- and acceleration will result in massive improvements that will be in effect every minute the road processes traffic.

Project kick-off: 
August 2010
Project delivered: 
December 2010
Media design
Project size: 
Auto, Truck & Motorcycle Parts
Project developers: 
Gijs Ockeloen
Mother project: 
Service design
Interaction design
Media design
© Reframing Studio