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Carpool Incentive Proposal Earns McMaster students Public Health Pitch

Carpool Incentive Proposal Earns McMaster students Public Health Pitch

From left: MSc Global Health students Khalid Fahoum, Alana Changoor, Himani Bhatnagar, Buvani Sivagnanasunderam and Nicole Viscek.


January 30, 2018

A team of McMaster students from the MSc Global Health program took first place and won the participant's choice award in the Toronto Thinks 2018 Global Health Case Competition at the University of Toronto on January 27-28. As winners, the group will present their project next month to Toronto Public Health and will have their case published in Juxtaposition Global Health Magazine.

The event is hosted by the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the university's global health magazine,Juxtaposition. The competition is open to all undergraduate and graduate students from Canadian universities and colleges and challenges teams to develop multidisciplinary solutions to a specific global health issue. This year’s problem to tackle was traffic-related air pollution in Toronto – a major public health issue in the city, and across the world in other major cities.

McMaster students Khalid Fahoum, Alana Changoor, Himani Bhatnagar, Buvani Sivagnanasunderam and Nicole Viscek applied their skills and training to develop a social enterprise business model. With a budget of $5 million dollars over three years, the solution was to target the 1.7 million cars – the majority being single occupancy vehicles commuting to and from work – in the GTA.

To do this, they designed a unique ride-sharing platform: Carmunity.

“Carmunity incentivizes drivers by subsidizing their gas and parking costs,” explains Buvani, “which our model made possible by taking advantage of the time and cost-savings of carpooling.”

The team’s special matching and points-earning features made the business model truly unique, and would allow for the creation of mini carpool communities throughout the GTA.

“Our thinking was to change the culture surrounding the norm of car ownership, to reduce its necessity and increase the convenience of getting to work, while building healthier, and more social communities,” says Himani.

The team also wanted to make it easier for those who may not be able to afford a car, such as recent graduates, low income families, and new immigrants.

Viscek credits the MSc Global Health program’s transdisciplinary and team approach with helping them succeed in the competition. “I think the strong emphasis on collaborative group work provided us with the skills to work effectively as a team in a high-pressure situation with limited time,” she says.