How to Save the World in 10 Steps

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How to use data and behavior-change techniques to gamify smart cities and change the world.

You may have heard the saying, “If you can’t measure it, it probably doesn’t exist.” This talk is about measuring what we want to change and getting really good at changing it.

Simply disclosing data has enormous potential to catalyze change. We will peek into the surge in new data being collected in smart cities by satellites, drones and sensors, and the exciting start ups using this data for environmental change. We will ask the questions “What are you measuring and how are you measuring it?” and “What will this future world look like when you have have achieved your goal?”

I will reveal the surprising power of behavior-change and gamification techniques -  like using pledges, leaderboards, awards, progress bars and smileys. I will show how to use these features as parts of a feedback loop of real environmental data, exploiting the concept of agency (motivation) in game design. This will lead to the overarching principle of cybernetic ecology, in which a feedback loop exchanges information between nature and machines.

I teach a practical how-to of community-based social marketing, based on the principle of social diffusion, and why it is essential to incorporate narrative design when selling sustainable behaviors.

My talk will end with fun ideas we can implement across cities, such as city-to-city competitions, satellite-driven data games, and dynamically changing eco billboards - showing that creativity is the only limiting factor in saving the planet.


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