Digital Single Market
Digital Economy & Society

Smart changes in Smart Cities


The Low2No initiative in Helsinki suggested that 50 per cent of a citizen’s carbon footprint concerned lifestyle choices.  They therefore embarked upon an ICT enabled campaign to induce behavioural change.

Behavioural psychology research suggests that two key drivers of behavioural change are ‘active learning’ and ‘social proof’ – trying something out and seeing others do it.  ICT and social media can enable this learning and share and reinforce social proof. 

Do you know of other inspiring examples? How can smart city solutions promote a behavioural change to achieve the EU sustainability objectives?

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Bob Jones's picture

Townsville won an award for its smart infrastructure earlier this year. Residents have the opportunity to be fully engaged and informed about their water consumption, and the impact of any changes made to appliances, usage habits and irrigation systems. Using automated meter readings and smart analytics, the system can proactively notify residents about issues such as leaks and abnormal use that might previously have been unknown.

A similar project in the US recorded a 6.6 percent reduction in water consumption and an eightfold increase in leak detection.

45 users have voted.
Juan Pablo Laporte's picture

This is a very interesting example. In order to engage citizen's they need to be aware of the consequences of their behavior. ICT will support the environmental friendly usage of resource by enabling traceability of goods and elements. Information, for example about waste disposal or usage of water needs to be collected, stored, analysed and distributed to the users in order to make them aware of their impact on the environment.

46 users have voted.
Richard Potter's picture

Just as a general comment, there is much discussion on behavioural change which might be interpreted as policy makers wanting to implement polices effectively and cheaply. But any system of Smart change must include developments to listen to what residents want and adapt the policies.

44 users have voted.
Richard Potter's picture

John Cawley at Cornell University has carried out some interesting research on changing behaviour - in relation to economics, health and obesity. Although rewarding people if they lost weight had some influence (payment on results) he found better results were achieved with a reward for people "in advance" for the intention to lose weight and then the threat to take away the reward if they did not fulfil what they had promised.

48 users have voted.
Paul Foley's picture

An intersting insight.

Studies over many years have found that behavior modification programs are rarely successful at producing lasting changes in attitudes or even behavior. When the rewards stop, people usually return to the way they acted before the program began. The Cornell study is thus an interesting variant. Did the study have any longer-term review, beyond the end of the 'withdrawal' period about results?

The other end of a traditional behavioural continuum is 'punishment'. Educational studies have found that punishment and threats are generally counterproductive. I guess the problem in cities (smart or not) is that 'the bad' consequences are longer-term and shared amongst many.

50 users have voted.
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