How can we raise the participation in Smart Citizen projects?



René, thanks a lot for your post and for sharing your thoughts about customer acceptance and involvement. My view is that the most successful and accepted IoT applications do not require any or very minimum user interaction. When people are asking me what my job is and I tell them that I'm an IoT expert, they often comment "oh yeah the thermostat that I can control with my smart phone". I'm then telling them, "actually even better, the thermostat that is talking to your car to understand that you are on your way home and switches the heat on by itself" :=)
10 years ago designing and rolling-out an IoT solution was a technical challenge, somehow there was not other choice than involving the customer or user in the technical details. Nowadays technology is about 5% of the story and it's all about understanding and communicating the benefits to gain customer acceptance. Considering our very active and busy lives, asking even the smallest work/involvement of potential end-users can turn out to be a challenge. Only one way out, try to organize the pilot/solution and demonstrate the IoT benefits with as little end-user involvement as possible. Let the connected "things" do their work :=)

Koen Van 't Hof's picture
Koen Van 't Hof

Interesting read, indeed. I understand that involving participants is essential for the success of smart citizen projects. Behavioural insights can help to solve this issue, because after all, it is specific behaviour that you want citizens to perform. Actionable information is indeed a way to connect with participants and influence their attitude towards the project for the better, since it is far more personally relevant than the 'data' you refer to in the blog. But besides providing personally relevant information, you should consider the information to be as tailored as possible - not only in terms of content, but also in terms of used channels, context, and design (see Rimer, K. B., & Kreuter, M. W. (2006). Advancing Tailored Health Communication: A Persuasion and Message Effects Perspective. Journal of Communication, 56, 184-201; and Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1986). The elaboration likelihood model of persuasion. In Communication and persuasion (pp. 1-24). Springer New York.). Besides using tailored information, there a many more mechanisms you could use to change behaviour (see Michie, S., Stralen, M. M. van, & West, R. (2011). The behaviour change wheel: a new method for characterising and designing behaviour change interventions. Implementation Science, 6(42).) Finally, if you want to change behaviour of participants, I think you should try and help participants to create a habit, since they are asked to engage in one or more activities that they have to incorporate in their already busy lives. Creating new habits is possible, but only if you take tiny steps (don’t ask to much in the beginning, but let participants incorporate small changes in their daily pattern gradually) and if you make it really easy to do (since motivation to participate is not stable over time and the easier things are, the less motivation you need) (see B.J. Fogg and his Tiny Habits method). If you are interested in using behavioural insights into your projects, I’d love to meet!

Maaike Osieck's picture
Maaike Osieck

interesting read. thanks for sharing these insights