Although not the sole focus of this blog, innovation and technology certainly provides the primary “food source” for the majority of its content. However, with all the talk of innovation and technology, one can easily lose sight of the fact that the greatest gains to be attained in transportation safety and efficiencies are generally social (human) in nature. Each individual traveler is empowered (consciously or subconsciously) with the ability to affect a transportation system, based on their unique decisions made with regards to the transportation (mobility) ecosystem. As a result, the ability to manage and incentivize certain aspects of human behavior as they relate to transportation systems represents the greatest potential for an operating agency and ITS practitioners to improve the safety and efficiency of a transportation system, as well as provide improved experiences for each individual traveler. The following video, “Incentivizing Responsible Commuting” provides a decent introduction to general social engineering principals. As they relate to transportation.
Gamification represents a wide range of social engineering and behavioral management strategies that can be applied to any industry (outside of gaming) through the use of traditional game theory and gaming mechanics. Gamification (also known as game theory, gamming mechanics or behavioral economics) focuses on how “game thinking” can be used to engage, persuade and empower participants to solve large-scale, real-world challenges. Gamification utilizes specific strategies and user-interface principals of game design, including community-building, group problem solving, rewards systems and applies them for addressing specific goals or solving unique problems. As mentioned in the following Google presentation, “gamification” is the process of using game thinking and mechanics to engage audiences (travelers) and solve problems.”
The general principles behind gamification focus on introducing persuasive mechanisms that appeal to natural instincts and behaviors of human beings. Therefore, if transportation planning, design and operations goals can be aligned with human stimulants commonly utilized in traditional gaming mechanics (such as community-building, rewards systems, public praise and residual user benefits), gamification can be utilized to address certain transportation issues.
This year London implemented the Chromaroma application to launch new transportation demand management strategies based on game mechanics. Chromaroma is an automated version of Foursquare, which tracks a range of commuter statistics and provides rewards for those that optimize the use of public transport. The application introduces game theory that appeals to human behavior, thus making public transit more of an appealing commuting alternative, benefiting both the user and the transportation environment itself. Competitions include “pounds of carbon saved”, and “gasoline saved”. New features to this model will include the ability to see the points and status of closely ranked friends, and the service would tell them how to “beat” the person directly above them, thus encouraging deeper engagement.
References and Resources
Get in the Game: Use Gamification to Drive Sustainable Action
London’s transport infrastructure gets the gamification treatment
Gartner Says By 2015, More Than 50 Percent of Organizations That Manage Innovation Processes Will Gamify Those Processes