“Discover what made me decide to create an app devoted to the school run.”
I’ve just become a father for the first time. There are so many things preoccupying me about my child’s future, but it would be fair to assume the school run isn’t one of them…
So why create an app devoted to it?
The simple fact is, whether we take part in it or not, all of us - parents, children, non-parents, everybody - is affected by the school run.
Growing up in Hampstead I have always been aware of this. People who don’t live there will probably think of the leafy streets and beautiful, historic houses. But if you do live there, you’ll also likely know that it has an incredibly high concentration of schools within a very short radius. Obviously that’s a great thing. But if you’re ever there between 8-9am or after 3pm, the reality is that Hampstead is grid-locked with back-to-back traffic. And those grid-locked cars are pumping out deadly exhaust fumes -that affect all of us.
Of course, Hampstead isn’t the only place with an issue with school-run air pollution. When I started researching, it became clear to me just how widespread the problem is: across London, for example, it causes 25% of morning rush hour traffic - and in some boroughs that goes up to 43%. Shockingly, children are exposed to five times more air pollution on the school run than any other time. Sitting in traffic on the way to school isn’t just time consuming and frustrating - it’s a huge environmental and health issue.
Naturally, I’m not the first person to recognise this. Many people have tried to deal with it over the years. But it’s a hard nut to crack.
One of the core issues is the lack of real data: most of the information around school-run traffic is opinion-based and anecdotal. As you might expect, this leads to conflict as there isn’t one set of information to draw logical conclusions from, or to use as a benchmark to measure what is improving - or deteriorating. And the even greater challenge is how do we even begin to collate that data? How can we easily, credibly - and legally - track the day-to-day behaviours of hundreds or thousands of unrelated private individuals?
Our initial idea was quite simple: schools are creating a common destination for many journeys. A lot of the people making these journeys are coming from the same areas, they just don't know it. If we could create an app that would connect those people, then we would be able to create a network that enabled them to share their journeys. This in turn would lead to multiple life-enhancing benefits, such as freeing up parents’ time and offering support at short notice, as well as, ultimately, more car-sharing, which also leads to safer journeys, an increase in active travel, such as walking or cycling - and, for the local community, a greatly reduced environmental impact.
An additional layer is that our network is able to update us on their behaviours via the app, thus creating a regularly updated pool of vital, actionable data for us to build on.
Our first client was University College School in Hampstead. The results were fantastic: there has been a 50% reduction in single family car use since Autumn 2018, and a total reduction in car use by 31%. Their school-run CO2 emissions were more than halved - a saving of 30 tons, the equivalent of planting 1,500 mature trees. For the parents, the school, and for us, it’s been a huge, amazing journey.
We know school-run pollution is an issue for many. We also know that the approach we’re taking for HomeRun works. And we want that success to be felt by as many schools and communities in the UK as possible.
To make that a reality, we need you to join us on the journey. Pooya Kamvari, Founder of HomeRun