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Singapore Smart Grid Games

Turn the energy consumption and recycling data that is currently only used by planners into an open source live commentary on our environments. Promote competitions and prizes for the towns, developments, blocks and individuals that contribute most.

Photo of James Robertson
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Smart Grid data is collected from individual flats, blocks, entire HDB developments and towns. This data is then vibrantly presented to local residents through playful interactive digital advertisements at Bus Stations and MRT stations, where people feel most connected with their locality. Residents will be able to see how their block or HDB development compares with others locally, and be presented with tips on how to lower their energy costs and recycle their waste more effectively.

Graphics displayed on digital advertising platforms can be either 1 minute video loops or interactive; while waiting for the bus, citizens can check how their apartment or block is faring in comparison to others in the same development. They can check the average consumption and recycling quotas, measure themselves in consumption (per sq ft or per person). Accompanying Apps can be downloaded to iPhones and android devices for people to keep up to date on their consumption while on the move. 

As homes gradually become more aware of their minute by minute consumption, this consciousness will affect decision making, unused lights will be turned off faster, water used with more care and consumables purchased with waste management born in mind.



How does your concept inspire collaboration between individuals, private sector organisations, and the government in an effort to create cleaner neighbourhoods?

Monthly, Quarterly and annual prizes and recognition can be awarded to those who excel; a monthly prize drawn at random from the list of flats who reach A* consumption levels would not only promote regular best practice (instead of simply targeting one month for zero consumption) and also provide a fantastic platform for green-minded companies to promote energy saving appliances. The Quarterly and Annual prize draws that recognize the best-performing families and blocks will provide an opportunity for gathering to celebrate civic pride in responsibility, and a chance to share interests an aspirations with neighbours, growing friendships at the same time.

How might your concept be scaled in a way that creates even more connections between people?

On a wider scale, perhaps there could be scope for environmental responsibility and resource conservation to be linked with HDB upgrading, so that the most aware and deserving neighborhoods are rewarded for their efforts. As the data-set and competitive element grows online, similar systems in other countries can be shared and compared, and civic pride in resource management and recycling becomes further enhanced. Companies can promote successful buildings and developments that have embraced their new smart cities technology in a virtuous circle.

How might you design a small experiment around your concept that would mobilise action?

As a prototype, it would be feasible to select one HDB development, and stir up some competition between 6-8 blocks, (per capita to avoid gross differentials), measuring gas, water, electric consumption, and weight of waste, how much of that is recycled etc.. Prizes could consist of energy saving appliances such as LED TVs, or credit for SMRT cards to encourage more use of public transport.

Evaluation results

8 evaluations so far

1. How easy would it be for citizens to get involved and take initiative for this idea?

Very easy; this would rely on ground-up participation from the beginning. - 12.5%

Somewhat easy; there are ways for citizens to get involved, but an outside organiser may be needed to sustain and grow this concept. - 37.5%

This concept needs to be led and maintained by the government or private business. - 50%

2. Can you build this concept on top of something that already exists, like an organisation, physical space, or system?

Yes. This could fold into, or extend from, something that already exists. - 50%

This concept taps existing networks for a few things, but also needs a lot of new processes, materials, relationships, etc. - 25%

This concept requires a new system to be built to support it. - 25%

3. After the initial launch and support, could this concept be sustained and cared for over time by the community it's designed to serve?

Absolutely! This concept is easy to keep going. - 25%

It depends. There are opportunities for growth, but it's not yet clear how the concept would thrive after launch. - 50%

Probably not. A lot of effort would be needed to keep this concept going. - 25%

4. Does this concept create community?

Yes. It naturally brings people together and inspires them to take care of one another. - 37.5%

There is potential to create a thriving community. - 62.5%

No. It doesn't galvanize people to come together for a common cause or interest. - 0%

5. Overall, how do you feel about this concept?

It rocked my world. - 14.3%

I liked it but preferred others. - 71.4%

It didn't get me overly excited. - 14.3%

44 comments

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Photo of Gaia Montelatici
Team

I am at present cooperating with Three Coins a start-up from Vienna that has very innovative ways of filling the gaps between "knowledge" and behavior in terms of personal finance management. In order to diminish the debt that in which 20% of youth seems to be (according to national stats in Europe), Three Coins uses interactive and creating education and technical assistance through virtual games. Playing such games is supposed to encourage an attitude change towards spending http://threecoins.org/about-us/ Maybe we can see how to integrate the "interactive virtual game" aspect into the Smart grid Games :)

Photo of James Robertson
Team

Thanks Gaia, that sounds amazing! I am lucky enough to be sitting down with some fellow OpenIDEO-ers this weekend at a 'Make-a-thon' here in Singapore, where we are trying to move forward with some prototyping for a variation of this concept. Keep an eye on the feed for some crowd-sourced collaboration, would be great to bring the virtual team online in real-time!

Photo of James Robertson
Team

By the way It starts on Friday at 1330 Singapore time (GMT + 8 ... I think!) Sure OpenIDEO will be tweeting about it loads, and i'll hope to find a way for the team that is assmebled in person to be able to interact with any members of the virtual team who are still keen to be a part of it all and help push the idea along :)

Photo of James Robertson
Team

Hey virtual team, I just stumbled across a great example of how this kind of idea is being implemented in europe. The basic technology and apps seem to be there already, but I still think that nobody has yet found a way to engage people over the long term in a playful way that encourages growth of the idea. Big opportunity waiting to be grabbed!

Anyway here is the link with a couple of great 2 minute videos, enjoy!

http://www.experientia.com/blog/telling-stories-experientia-designs-domestic-energy-consumption-monitors-videos/

Photo of Gaia Montelatici
Team

Beautiful, this has such a potential for scalability and applicability in a variety of different contexts :)
congratulations!!!!!

Photo of Paul van Zoggel
Team

Congratulations James, I see even two concepts. Busy 2013!

Photo of James Robertson
Team

Thanks Paul! Busy in a good way hopefully. With this one I feel there that it's mostly about connecting the dots and getting some high level support - not necessarily funding but audiences - if the right technology owners and business interests can be gathered around a table, i see no reason why it can't happen!

Photo of Vishal Jodhani
Team

Congratulations James! Well deserved :-)

Photo of James Robertson
Team

Thanks very much indeed! Keep the comments coming, this one I really want to try and realize, and will welcome any thoughts and support :)

Photo of Paul van Zoggel
Team

As comments were lost, a repost;

Great diagram, great you put in 'scale'. Are the HBD developments already equiped with meters to be read through the internet?

Is the law saying in 202X a certain amount of houses need to have smart meters?

I think you have a great case for a social enterprise here. Combining vouchers for discount with incentive to save. If vouchers can only be spend for discount in neighborhood store, everybody wins.

Photo of James Robertson
Team

Hi Paul, thanks very much for re-posting. At the moment I am not sure very many (if any) HDBs are currently equipped with Smart Meters. This is perhaps the ideal opening for any Sponors out there (philips, siemens, IBM) to speak up!

In the short term, perhaps a more cost-effective methodology is to talk to a company like Opower, who have the technology (and software) for these type of data collections, engage them with HDB, NEA and some game designers, and get the mobile platform up and running first.

Photo of Paul van Zoggel
Team

BTW; Philips is experimenting with saving energy with lightning in buildings and different models of ownership when lights need to be replaced. Maybe they would in this 'light' be interested in blocks of flats.

Photo of James Robertson
Team

Haha! Thanks. Had better start some conversations with some people and actually get this thing off the ground! Luckily through the day job I have had the pleasure of being given a tour of the Philips showroom and offices here, so will be able to dig up some business cards somewhere with any luck. Cheers!

Photo of Vishal Jodhani
Team

Congratulations James! Well desrbv

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

James & Team - as per the comment on your other entry we're so sorry that we may have lost some of the updates to this concept over the last 72 hours - we lost the AWS server stack which included the backup and even after working through the night some updates escaped us. We have put in place some measures to ensure that this won't happen again.

We've extended the Refinement Phase to the 27th to give everyone extra time to re-upload their content and to push your concept even further - apologies again if you did lose any updates...

Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Great concept James! Another aspect you might not be aware of is that Singapore is doing a lot with water conservation.

Connections with WaterHub might be a way to get the data necessary, engage local companies working on Smart Water and meet an existing resource priority (water self-sufficiency by 2061). Check them out at: http://www.pub.gov.sg/waterhub/Pages/default.aspx

Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

James--here are some thoughts I had that seem to have been lost with the server issue. I'm sure you are aware of IBM's smart cities initiative. Here is the smart water component: http://www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/us/en/water_management/ideas/index.html

You had posted a response with an example of using a sink full of warm water for dishes in the US compared to letting the water run down the drain in Singapore. I think this is a perfect example of how storytelling can be used to implement best practices that solve both energy and water waste.

Finally, I was thinking it might be good to present each saving practice in a variety of metrics, depending on the end user. Some might be more motivated by dollars in energy bill saved due to using a sink full of water while others might care more about reduced CO2 or how many gallons of water they were saving. A dashboard that provides a variety of comparisons for each best practice--or that could be tailored to each individual--might be more effective.

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Great stuff, James! As you build this concept out over upcoming weeks, you might also want to check out this initiative to see if there might be relevant lessons: http://www.openideo.com/open/connected/inspiration/tidy-street-changing-neighbors-behaviors-through-voluntary-monitoring-and-public-infographics/

Photo of James Robertson
Team

Thanks Meena, great Inspiration! Love the idea. You wouldn't catch me trying anything with Grafitti here in Singapore though... I'd get locked up, like the last guy who did!

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

:^)) wasn't so much suggesting you propose that part – just thought you'd find it interesting.

Photo of James Robertson
Team

And indeed it is very interesting! Will give you the benefit of the doubt on trying to get me put behind bars for the time being. There were some other references on that thread regarding schemes in Paris and Berlin that have gamified energy-saving and recycling on a street/block scale... it would be great to find out more about them if you know where else I can look? Tks again :)

Photo of Johan Löfström
Team

You would not really need to paint the actual graffiti on the walls permanently, you could do it high-tech, temporary art installations with projectors: http://www.openideo.com/open/connected/concepting/portable-projector/

Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Hey James, this is a fabulous idea! I was wondering how it might begin to incorporate other areas that people can focus on as well such as community connection through people helping others, perhaps community rating of cleanliness and social connections (perhaps through talking about what else is happening in the community). Suppose I'm wondering if it can be used as a tool to engage people to work together to achieve something as a community as a first stage and then allow it to scale to be something that goes beyond energy and environment to connection. Just a thought.

Photo of James Robertson
Team

Hi David, thanks. You've really got me thinking. How best to link the notion of individual responsibility and reward with that of the community. It would be really amazing if the waiting list for HDB upgrading could be linked to energy saving, cleanliness and recycling. I feel that something this big could really focus collective attention and engender a sense of everybody being in it together.

I think there are loads of other concepts that might be integrated into this as a means of saving energy and bringing communities together. Perhaps individual blocks could be encouraged to host 'Kampung Nights' in the void decks once a month. It could be a voluntary power-off and lights out for a couple of hours, when everybody comes downstairs from their flats and gathers under candle light to hear crazy uncles and aunties telling stories from 60-odd years ago.

I like the thoughts you have added on going beyond energy and environment, and think it certainly has the potential. At the moment I still think perhaps the best chance of getting something off the ground for real is to keep it simple, use existing technologies and networks (Opower, Smart Bins), and find sponsors and media who could gain from being involved in promoting results and donating prizes. Will try and get a couple of mock-up app dashboards under way!

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

James, congratulations on making the NEA Challenge Shortlist! Your concept inspired us to think about how we might visually inspire people to save energy, and as a collective, make a big impact on total usage.

In Refinement, we encourage you to think about how you might make the data meaningful to people, by translating the numbers into something tangible and compelling. Could you find a physical equivalent to represent energy saved? We once saw a sticker on a bike that said "54 mpb" (miles per burrito). Perhaps that will spark something! For more tips on how to iterate and prototype your idea during the Refinement phase, read here http://bit.ly/connect-refinetips and check this Lowdown: http://bit.ly/oi_refine

Photo of Paul van Zoggel
Team

Hi James, great concept. There was a student project in NL which was quite succesfull on making game mechanics work to motivate. http://www.fastcoexist.com/1679632/energy-battle-students-show-how-games-can-cut-electric-bills

As reading in other comments, it is great to reward with winning something, what I can also imagine is that for example you save 10 dollar on your electricity bill, 5 goes to a street/block bankaccount. Creating 3 incentives to play : To win, save money AND raise fund to improve the street/block.

Photo of James Robertson
Team

Thanks so much for the link Paul. I found some other great examples on the same site. It seems that this company 'Opower' has already made progress in creating a means to access, compare, and gamify data. Presumably the same technology and software they use to bring the energy information from the utilities companies onto a live App feed can be replicated here in Singapore.

http://www.fastcoexist.com/1678956/plugging-your-utility-bill-into-facebook-to-compete-with-friends

Opower seems to be doing ok, but I read in the article that similar ventures by Microsoft and Google have not been successful. I think the key is really engaging the participants in the gamification; to do this the prizes would really have to hit the right note, and the means of recognition/praise would have to be attractive. Special care on how, when, and through what media the winners are announced will have a huge impact on the cultural flavor of these Smart Games.

Singapore would be a great place to launch something like this, with so many dense and earnest, positive communities, always taking pride in their competitive element. Would really love to hear how people think the prizes/recognition should be co-ordinated.

Photo of Paul van Zoggel
Team

Just contact them to see, maybe happy to help, they did more :

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=nl&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.shifft.com%2Fprojecten%2F6.html

Also "Urban Heroes" more for kids : http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&hl=en&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=nl&tl=en&twu=1&u=http://www.stadsehelden.nl/&usg=ALkJrhh90v5KBqXGJ5m3mu-LXQ0KyHswVw

Any ideas indeed on the prizes/incentives/recognition? Would it be a good idea to collect in a (virtual) jar 50% money of what you saved in energy?

Photo of Vishal Jodhani
Team

+1 for the concept!

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

James, I really like your concept. It has been my experience that the visualization of information sparks interest and conversations, particularly when the information relates to one's choices. My dad and brother used to have competitions on who could go the longest without using the heater in sub-zero winters. I think my dad won; the rivalry continues. I can easily see how the competitive aspect works! I am probably not the first to suggest that it may also make sense to have this data on an app, with the intent of providing further information regarding tips, fun facts, and competitions.

Photo of James Robertson
Team

Agree totally Kirk. The app would help to gamify a competition between say a group of 3-4 units of the same extended family or all the households of a group of school children. Not sure if you've ever played Fantasy Football League (soccer in the UK!), but the idea there is that you can enter your 1 team into as many leagues as you like - from work colleagues to family and freinds etc, and monitor your progress, send group messages, award group prizes etc. Then the bus-stop features would try to help communities feel a sense of teamwork I hope, by publishing aggregated stats.

Moving the converation on a little from this, I am now trying to think further on which public/private sector bodies/companies would stand the most to gain from this and how they might be incentivised into helping kick it off? Any thoughts on that would be hugely appreciated!

Photo of Johan Löfström
Team

you need to think a little bit about the security/safety issue that could arise. Because I heard about some initative to put out online maps of suburbs where the electric company overlayed color codes on the individual houses of amount of power consumtion.

It seemed like a couple of tech-savvy burglars used it to see which homes the owners had left for winter holiday. If no electrical consumption was showd, they chose that house to break into.

It is perhaps totally different in SIngapore where there is apartment buildings and not a suburban area? or, what do you think? obstacle or possible to work around this "bug issue"?

Photo of Johan Löfström
Team

I think that it is the Air condition units inapartments and offices/shops that are singapores largest source of carbon footprint. Perhaps you could tie together a scheme to have AC-service staff, go around all apartments in one whole building and clean filters for free, check that each unit is functioning optimally. (repair if needed, at a low cost)

Measure and show power consumption of the whole building the week before the check up, and compare with the week afterwards :) small drops can become a large stream, since the most environmentally friendly kilowatthour is the one that is not used! #Negawatt! :)

Photo of James Robertson
Team

Hey Johan.. thanks for keeping all the suggestions coming! You are right in that AC is the biggest power drain. I have to say though it's not so easy to live without it if you are not from these parts originally! But there is definitely room for optimizing its use in an office environment.. I have friends here who have to take a scarf to work to stay warm, while its 32 degrees outside, crazy! In fact this has given me an idea for a small new concept... thanks!

Photo of Johan Löfström
Team

Using of the asphalt crayons in the "Tidy Streets"-project could be put to use, if you have workshops with art students or other volunteers, perhaps people interested in graffiti? stencil making and continously on a rotational schedule do new asphalt crayon info-graphics in each area. They could be visible from the apartment windows, I imagine? with a QR-code, or with a shortened URL with the service "bit.ly" or similar adress chalked out on the pavement!!!

I also saw somewhere a brush-manufacturer was walking in busy street and painted with plain water on the asphalt and concrete pavementstones, he did paint haikus and advertising messages for his brushes, so he was a street vendor that sold his brushes at the same time as he did some art (that evaporated within minutes of course)

Photo of Johan Löfström
Team

http://youtu.be/0EI15GW-IbM

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Congrats on this post being today's onsite Featured Concept!

Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

brilliant idea-! this will definitely contribute to community 'bonding' and foster a sense of accountability + responsibility for environmental issues in Singapore. For most people here, being green stops at not littering and not spitting gum- which is a shame! This display of data will generate interest and hence educate more people about the green issue. It also grabs the opportunity to spark debate/conversation and discussion (perhaps because of the graphically interesting way it is presented and its interactive- ness) I love it how this can get more people to feel like their one action does count! So visually it gets more people to think about it and comment + apply yeah?> and that effect n itself could be an 'auto-pilot' idea-development strategy? way to go! Our bus stops could also do with less materialistic/consumer goods advertising - government money could be better spent ! fab idea, keep it coming ! *applause

Photo of Arjan Tupan
Team

I really like this idea, and the link from Meena is indeed a great connection.

Maybe you can include tips and tricks from the last month's winners, in which they share what they did to improve their energy usage. WIth that, you create a nice library of ways to use energy smarter.

Photo of James Robertson
Team

Thanks Arjan. Meena's link was a great inspiration. Agree whole-heartedly on the winners' tips segment.

I have started talking with Johan on his Portable Projector concept thread, and your Pop-Up-Museum concept came up.. A proposal tying the three concepts would indeed be a great use of Void Decks - perhaps a short update on the SG Smart Grid Games latest scores could be inserted in between features.

Photo of Arjan Tupan
Team

I like combining functionality of concepts. It's great to show interconnected features, without losing the concepts themselves.
I think the Smart Grid Games scores could be interesting to show in the museums, but maybe even better in my SgNal concept.
As for the pop-up museums: the working of the Smart Grid Games could be a subject, explained with a fully working screen as exhibition object.
And, of course, a workshop with some winners to share tips :).

Photo of Johan Löfström
Team

Hello, if you have the time, could you take a look at some of my concept proposals. Because I think that some of them that are "conveyors of information" (visual and audio) could be perfect ways for this concept of yours to connect together with, in order for finding new methods to deliver info about your game to citizens. I mean primarily to avoid purchase of expensive LED-screens and place them on walls everywhere, that burn a lot of electricity 24/7 :)

Let me know what you think? And please comment on my concepts if you have additional ideas or details that I still haven't figured out, yet. All your input is appreciated!

Photo of James Robertson
Team

Hi Johan,

Thanks very much for the links. I think both the portable projector and the lazer graffiti concpets would work perfectly with this concept. The next trick would be to find the optimum surface and timing schedules to maximise the exposure and 'stickiness' of the information.

Perhaps each block could have it's daily consumption summarised on the side each night at a regular time.. or for 30-60 seconds on the hour each hour from 8-10pm. This would let observers see from the outside in, but there would have to be another way of letting residents inside their own block know.

Regarding the LED screens, you have a point, it would be expensive. Perhaps there is another way, but the objective is to present the data at the beginning and end of the daily commute (where people have time to pause for reflection) in an interactive, live way. Would welcome any more suggestions!

Photo of Johan Löfström
Team

you should take a look at my friend Arjans concept, Pop-Up-Museum, that aim to "borrow" empty spaces in ground floor of apartment buildings: http://www.openideo.com/open/connected/concepting/the-pop-up-museums-of-singapore-s-communities/

People living in a house, would see the images, and be so curious that they walk outside to watch. And you could give them a printed piece of paper with web adress so that they can keep track of their results 24/7 online.

There is high percentage of smart-phone-users in Singapore!