The unrestrained use of vehicles negatively contributes to the citizens’ well-being in Dutch cities. Their frequent use is responsible for the increase in traffic congestion, air pollution levels, and noise levels. Not to mention an increasing feeling of insecurity for weaker traffic participants. A potential solution to this problem is the reduction of vehicle use while motivating drivers to seek more sustainable alternatives. For that, we combine the use of smartphone technologies with behavioural sciences to persuade drivers to change their mobility behaviour. Drivers are encouraged to engage in this change through personalised positive incentives made available via a smartphone app. These incentives, defined by municipalities and sponsors, consist of challenges to reduce vehicle use. The innovation here is the way drivers are challenged. They freely choose which sponsor(s) and challenge(s) they want to take part in, and they then commit to it by putting money at stake. If the challenge is completed, the selected sponsor rewards them with a product or a service free of charge. Otherwise, the sponsor charges them extra for the product or service. Our idea relies on the economic principle of loss aversion to get people to commit to their challenges. The expected impact is that challenges will keep drivers motivated to not use their vehicles, seeking therefore for sustainable alternatives. The success of our experiment will be measured by the number of users who will use our smartphone app. We will also observe any resulting impact in the city of Enschede.
For more information: look at www.empowerproject.eu or watch the presentation of Towards a liveable low-carbon smart city.