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CycleUp - Improve recycling across your community. 3RD UPDATE: Working prototype with neighbors 2ND UPDATE: Household Pledges. 1ST UPDATE: Smart wi-fi scale to track your recycling rates

CycleUp is a web app for improving recycling habits among entire communities. YOUR HOUSEHOLD - The app experience begins by showing your recycling rate and rank, using gamification, incentives, pledges and social status to encourage your household to recycle. YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD - You then scale up to the Neighborhood view, where you compete against your neighbors for top rank, using competition, social pressure, and monthly rewards to encourage more recycling. YOUR CITY - Finally, you scale up to the City view, where you go from competing with neighbors to collaborating with them to become the top ranked neighborhood in your city, using teamwork, group status, and neighborhood rewards to improve recycling across your neighborhood.

Photo of Sky Gilbar
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Explain your idea in one sentence

CycleUp helps communities improve their recycling habits by creating incentives for individuals, households, and neighborhoods to work together to recycle more.
3RD UPDATE - June 17th, 2014 (SEE UPDATED SLIDES AS WELL):

Prototype (Underway)
I asked four of my neighbors to participate in trying out CycleUp for three weeks. Because we all live in cottages that share a community recycling collection point, it's an ideal place to prototype the concept. Every week for three weeks, they've agreed to weigh their trash and recycling on a scale I placed near their recycling bins, and write down the waste on notecards. It's now the end of this first week, and I've inputed the data into a simple html/css prototype version of CycleUp I built. Later this week I'll input the second week of data, and then have them login and use the prototype version of CycleUp. Once I've ensured that they've logged in and experienced the app, see their household page and neighborhood page, I'll have them continue to weigh their trash and recycling for a third week and see if there's a change in their recycling rates.

At the end of the three week period, I'll then ask them a set of standardized questions to learn more if it influenced their behavoir, about their feelings about the app features, whether they would use it, and how useful and enjoyable they found it. I'll also collect general feedback in the hope of learning insights about how to refine the app concept. I've attached screenshots of the quick prototype I put together on the web, along with a photo of the simple scale and notecard recording station I set up near the recycle bin.

2ND UPDATE - June 7th, 2014 (SEE UPDATED SLIDES AS WELL):

Pledges (New)
Based on feedback and ideas from others, instead of households simply seeing suggested  Tips on how to to help them and their neighborhood recycle more, they make action-oriented  Pledges to implement positive changes to increase recycling rates. They choose the pledges to make on the neighborhood and city pages, when clicking on the giveaway info overlays.

The Pledges are now displayed on their household page, reminding them of their Pledges and encouraging habit forming behavoir. Making a certain number of pledges also unlocks achievements for the household (rewards perhaps as well), which adds elements of strategic gameplay, further helping to motivate households to make more pledges In all, switching from  Tips, which are suggestion focused, to  Pledges, which are action focused, we can encourge households to commit to making positive changes in their recycling routine, thus improving their household and neighborhood recycling impact.

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1ST UPDATE (SEE SLIDE #2):


Gathering Data

Based on feedback, I've propsed a low-cost, wi-fi enabled smart scale for the home recycling bin that would collect recycling data for CycleUp households. The scale can be produced with off the shelf parts (Arduino + Weight Scale + WiFi Sensor) for under $15 USD, and at scale, the cost could be as low as $10. The scale sites under any recycling bin. You set the date of your weekly recycling day, and it records the weight at a time you set before you usually take your recycling out to the street. The scale battery would last 6 months as it would be in 'passive' until a specific time you set, at which time the weight would be recorded. The data could be accessed from the web app, or via a potential smartphone app or other API that integrates data tracking of smart devices.

Business Model:
The cost of the SmartScale could be subsidised by the municipality or trash hauler, who is naturally incentivized to increase recycling rates as it lowers their trash collection costs and brings in more money through more recycling. Alternatively, CocaCola could create a campaign in which they would give out the scales as a reward for purchasing Coca Cola products. Then, within the app, CocaCola would be able to sponsor the household and neighborhood giveaways, offerng multiple brand touchpoints and while generating millions of potential positive brand impressions at scale. Another idea is that CocaCola could also be the sponsor of a branded smartphone accessory app that would be used to control the sensor and report data.
 
Data for household recycling rates could be achieved in a variety of ways. Many municipalities waste haulers already have on-truck scales equipped with GPS that measure trash and recycling loads for every household. We could work with the haulers to make the dataset 'open' through a simple API that the platform could run on. Successful programs like RecycleBank and CitiGreen show that these types of partnerships and arrangements can be succesful and are scalable. Alternatively, an intelligent household scale of some kind (some ideas for which are proposed here) could be subsidized by the municipality, as they are deeply motivated to increase recycling rates, which lowers their costs. These scales could be given out to households around the city. 

Individual Profiles
Individuals will create profiles when the sign up. They'd setup a profile for their house, and invite the other members of their household to 'join'.

Metrics
The notion of 'recycling' rate would refer to the ratio of recycling to trash that a household or neighborhood would generate per week. For example a recycling rate of 75% means that 75% of the waste was recycled, and 25% was thrown out as trash. This metric will need to be developed further to take into account the amount of waste created. For instance, if a household create a tremendous amount of waste in general compared to their neighbors, even though their reyccling rate may be good, they are overconsuming somehow so their rate would need to be weighted. 





 

Describe how your idea would help form new habits and improve recycling at home

By visualizing the recycling rate of your household, showing your households positive impact, and then rewarding better recycling habits with status achievements while showing your households rank against your neighbors, CycleUp also motivates individuals to work together with their household members to recycle more through pledges to take actions.

But those motivations only go so far. When you start show households where they rank compared to their neighbors on a leaderboard, there's now social pressure to rank higher, and a personal desire to improve your status, which motivates the household to recycle more. When you can see that your neighbors are recycling more than you and getting achievements that you don't have yet, it encourages you to recycle more. What's more, by layering in monthly giveaways at a neighborhood level, it introduces friendly competition between neighbors to recycle even more. CycleUp also provides tips and ideas that make it easy to introduce new practices into your home recycling routine as well.

The third level of motivation to recycle more at home expands to the level of neighborhood, where you start to understand that working with your neighbors to encourage each other all to recycle more yields the greatest incentive, rewards that actually improve the neighborhood for everyone, by providing sponsored civic improvements like tree planting in your neighborhood that benefits everyone by making your neighborhood more livable and improving your neighborhoods reputation.

At this level, neighbors appoint a neighborhood leader who encourages residents to recycle more. In addition, neighbors are incentivized through achievements to PLEDGE to take three actions to help their neighbors who may not be recycling much to improve their recycling rates. For instance, a neighbor might pledge to help an elderly neighbor with taking their bins to the curb, posting flyers with tips on how to improve recycling on their street, or teaching their neighbors strategies for recycling more.

How might you design an early, lightweight experiment to further develop your idea?

UPDATE: To further develop the idea and test it without the need for waste hauler scale data right now, I'd ask five of my neighbors to calculate their recycling diversion rate once each week for two weeks.

There are some simple ways to generate this data, simply by having the neighbor estimate and how full their trash and recycling bins were (0,25%,50%,75%,100%) on the collection day. Since all the bins my neighbors have are are the same volume, the diversion rate can easily be calculated this way.

This idea came from this quick tool I discovered:
http://rethinkwaste.org/residents/single-family-residences/diversion-calculator

From the data I'd collect on the five neighbors diversion rate, I'll create a lightweight interactive app prototype with this real data, and have the neighbors actually use and experience it, and then learn from their responses on how to develop it further to meet their needs.

Having real profiles and data in the prototype makes the experience more relatable than mockups with placeholder data, and this should be easy to achieve.

Other teams in this challenge that are developing apps that will require datasets down the road might also find this to be a good way to get some early data.

What aspects of your idea could benefit from the input of our OpenIDEO community?

I see CycleUp as working best with multi-family households in residential neighborhoods. I think CycleUp could be a powerful teaching tool for families to engaging their kids into recycling more.

But here's the question: How do you think the idea might be possible to work in dense urban areas with apartments or single family homes? Would apartment buildings form teams perhaps, and become a 'household', or some intermediate level?

What do people think of this approach to scaling recycling from the level of the individual to the household to the neighborhood to the city?

Evaluation results

11 evaluations so far

1. How well do you think this idea will create new habits for the people involved?

Really well. I can see it creating lasting behavioural changes - 72.7%

The idea is pretty good but I’m not sure it will make new habits - 27.3%

Not sure the idea would really help people establish long-lasting habits - 0%

2. Can the idea be scaled to work in different countries and with different people?

Yes – it’s clear how the idea could be adopted by people from far and wide - 36.4%

Seems like it could work but needs some fleshing out - 63.6%

I don’t think it could be easily used in different locations - 0%

3. Can the idea be used regardless of the local recycling schemes?

Yes – it doesn’t seem to rely on a particular collection scheme - 54.5%

Possibly – although it might work better under some schemes rather than others - 36.4%

I think it might only work under particular circumstances - 9.1%

4. How easy would it be to pilot a version of the idea to test it out?

Really easy – ways to test this idea further are already springing to mind - 18.2%

Piloting this idea would be possible but it could take a lot of time and resources - 81.8%

A pilot doesn’t seem easy at this point - 0%

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

It rocked my world - 45.5%

I liked it but preferred others - 54.5%

It didn’t get me too excited - 0%

29 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Jes Simson
Team

Way to go Sky! I love how holistically you have thought about how to engage users on multiple levels - in their households, in their neighbourhoods and in their cities. The UI and UX is also beautiful. I can't wait to see how this evolves.

Photo of Sky Gilbar
Team

Thank you Jes. Looking forward to seeing what comes next as well!

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Sky, this is a beautifully thought out and beautifully prototyped idea! And I love how you've thought about how CycleUp can engage users on multiple scales: from the household, to the neighborhood, to and entire city. I agree with OpenIDEO that your idea is implementation ready. Looking forward to future updates on this project!

Photo of Sky Gilbar
Team

Thanks Shane! I'm looking forward to see how things evolve. =)

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Congratulations on your winning idea, Sky. It’s an idea with a lovely finish and we dig the new smart scale which automates the data input. We also think it’s got potential to improve recycling by both social comparison and local competition – well done! It might be interesting to pilot its as a challenge, maybe to a council, hospitality businesses or university? Your concept is at a stage where it’s really implementation ready, so we hope you’ll keep the community in the loop once the Impact phase launches. Congrats!

Photo of Sky Gilbar
Team

Hi!

Thanks for the encouragement and selecting CycleUp as a winning idea! This was a lot of fun to work on. I plan to complete the prototype, see what's learned and go from there. Looking forward to what comes next. Glad to be part of the community! =)

Photo of Leigh Cullen
Team

A very cool idea Sky. And lovely UI. Congrats to you! Look forward to seeing this in action.
Leigh

Photo of Sky Gilbar
Team

Hi Leigh,

Thank you for the kinds words! I LOVED your project by the way. The level or insight into habit forming and the way you proposed to implement it is awesome. I hope you continue to push forward with it. =)

Photo of Leigh Cullen
Team

Sky, Thanks so much!

Am also checking out your photo app... Well done. You've had some pretty cool gigs. :) Big fan of your tagline!: "Make Creativity Matter"
~Leigh

Photo of Paul Reader
Team

Well deserved winning concept Sky!
I will follow the progress of this with great interest.

Photo of Sky Gilbar
Team

Hi Paul,

Thank you! I appreciate it, and look forward to seeing where it goes. By the way, you've got some fantastic challenge ideas under your belt. Hope we can stay connected! =)

Sky

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Fab updates, Sky! Any plans to see how a small group of potential end users would respond to what you're proposing to see what you might learn towards refining this further? Testing assumptions early is a cornerstone of human-centered design. We're inspired by the lightweight prototype and learnings here: https://openideo.com/challenge/recycle-challenge/refinement/kick-cycle-a-recycler-s-green-activity-box-filled-with-fun-for-the-entire-family-to-help-kick-start-their-recycling-habits and we think that engaging a select group of real people in your exciting designs could lead to deep insights towards iteration.

Photo of Sky Gilbar
Team

Hi Meena,

I agree! I've been planning a prototype with some people and I'm starting it this week. These folks have agreed to record the weight of their trash and recycling for a week, and I'll be putting the data into a simplified HTML view that they can access. I'll then meet with them to gather their insights and feedback to further iterate the idea. Stay tuned... =)

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Looking forward to hearing about your prototyping antics :^) Bring it on.

Photo of Sky Gilbar
Team

Hi Meena,

I just posted an update about the prototype I've developed and the trial I'm undertaking with my neighbors. Check it out. =)

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Awesome. Putting real people in the picture is sure to provide valuable learnings. Inspiring ideation in action!

Photo of Rob Kaye Han
Team

Hi Sky, great work - love the visuals. It seems like we have very similar ideas in terms of quantifying the recycling actions into points, aggregating that data onto a platform, and then provide social interaction/competition. We could certainly learn from each other. This is our project Less: https://openideo.com/challenge/recycle-challenge/refinement/less-is-more

A suggestion for one of your questions regarding how to form teams for dense urban areas and apartment complexes; Less actually allows users to create their own 'groups/teams' rather than to force it based on geography. The thinking behind this is that you're more motivated by the people you know rather than by strangers. So a user may join the 'Brooklyn Group' which is based on physical geography; but she may also join 'IDEO Group' which is global for all employees of the company. This is beneficial for me personally as I have friends/family who live all across the world and I'd love to be in 'groups' to see our collective data. It's almost like creating groups on Whatsapp chat.

Here is another OpenIDEO member's idea regarding the weigh-scale for bins, maybe you can discuss ways to further develop this: https://openideo.com/challenge/recycle-challenge/refinement/do-to-trashcans-what-nest-did-for-thermometers

Photo of Sky Gilbar
Team

Hi Rob,

Thanks for your comment. Great work on your project as well. There are some great similarities on the focus on quantifying recycling data and using competition to encourage recycling.

As to your question about how to allow people in urban areas to measure their recycling, so in the 2nd update I moved from the idea of having the municipality collect data from bins to having a low-cost smartscale for individual households (or apartments) collect the data. by bringing the collection of data into the home, this effectively solves this issue.

I like your idea of allowing people to form teams. On CycleUp teams are essentially based on your neighborhood, but it could be interesting to let users decide teams to form. That's something think about.

I did see the Smartscale idea you referenced a while back as well, and it's something that had been on mind as well!

Thanks for the feedback and ideas! =)

-Sky

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

The is an awesome idea Sky. In particular, I love how the element of motivating neighbors to "compete" with each other to elevate their recycling status. I came upon the "Neighborhood Comparison" idea earlier which echos portions of your concept: https://openideo.com/challenge/recycle-challenge/ideas/neighbor-comparisons

Below was the comment that I had given to the Neighborhood Comparison entry. Perhaps you might find it useful too.

You would be interested to look into the Walk Score system that ranks neighborhoods and even cities relative to each other on a national scale. The rating system has become an indication for how "liveable" a place is based on accessibility to the number of local amenities, public transportation options, and general walk ability. This rating system has been used by property owners to raise their real estate value. If a neighborhood has a high Walk Score, the properties in the area would generally be rented out or sold for a higher price. I wonder how your idea can make recycling a part of how people perceive their communities. If higher recycling rates can raise the value of their neighborhoods like Walk Score, perhaps neighbors would be incentivized to work together on their recycling efforts: http://www.walkscore.com

Photo of Sky Gilbar
Team

Hi Shane,

Thanks for sharing your challenge idea as well man. We were definitely on the same wavelength! I looked at oPower as well during my research as well! Also, thanks for sharing the Walk Score site with me. That is a really interesting idea. One thing that CycleUp does do is rank neighborhoods by their collective impact. That data could definitely be useful in calculating some kind of metric related to livability and positively impact property values perhaps. The other idea I proposed in CycleUp is that the rewards for top neighborhoods would be capital projects (like tree planting, public art, bike paths, school improvements, etc) that would increase neighborhood livability, appeal, and potentially property value as well. Perhaps those improvements and a unified metric could spawn a whole new way of rating neighborhoods. =)

Photo of Paul Reader
Team

Congratulations Sky
An extremely well thought out approach to measuring and collating recycling data. I was interested to see that some existing schemes use GPS
and kerbside measurement.
I like your business model too - the recycling company or municipal council should really pay total cost since they get all the benefit from reduced waste disposal.
Although probably Coke and other vendors should contribute too since they are a large source of the problem.
Civic pride can be a good motivator - eg Tidy Town competitions

Photo of Shimolee Nahar
Team

Hi Sky,

It would be interesting for you to check Recycle Bank. "Recyclebank partners with communities and waste haulers around the country to reward residents like you for recycling. We work with communities to find out how much recyclable material was collected. The collective weight is then converted to Recyclebank points and shared amongst all of the residents in the community that recycled. So, the more everyone recycles, the more points you earn! "

Photo of Sky Gilbar
Team

Hi Shimolee,

Thanks for the comment. I looked at RecycleBank and CitiGreen while I was researching this idea. RecycleBank has some similarities, but there are some key differences with this idea that are worth noting. RecycleBank is about motivating individuals and neighborhoods with rewards to recycle more. With CycleUp, the motivation expands into the gamification and social status by having households competing with their neighbors for rank, and then competing as a neighborhood with other neighborhoods. The RecycleBank model is effective, but people dont spend much time on the platform. I wanted to explore how to create an experience that was very engaging as well, to put some fun and rewards into it that drives people to be active users of the platform and track their progress regularly, and also to build neighborhood unity as well!

Photo of Shimolee Nahar
Team

Thanks Sky for the clarification. I love your idea. Your idea made me think of https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/panstudio/run-an-empire-the-real-world-territory-control-gam- a strategy game that is seeking funding on kickstarter. I was wondering if we could incorporate more of strategy elements in your idea?

Photo of Sky Gilbar
Team

Hi Shimolee,

This Kickstarter project is really cool. I dig the game mechanics and strategy as well. I've been thinking about how to incorporate more game mechanics into CycleUp as well. One place it could be done is on the Neighborhood and City views, when you click on the Challenge details, it currently show you a list of 'Tips' to recycle more, that you can check off. On the City view, it shows that doing 3 of the tips gives you a neighborhood badge. What if instead, at all levels, instead of tips, they were 'pledges' that you could take (promises to do these things), that in addition to improving your recycling rate and status, would unlock points that would lead to personal rewards? This is an idea that RecycleBank uses actually, and could work well here too. I'm hesitant to add more features (complication is not always good), but I think this one dovetails into the vision of motivating action through reward and building positive habits.

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Hi Sky, nice work on this Top 25 concept! It’s visualised in a clear and beautiful way, and made us all want to sign up right away. We love how you’ve build on the research around social pressure and incentives, and the way CycleUp gamifies recycling efforts on a personal, local and city level. During refinement, we’d be keen to see you work on the business model behind CycleUp. Perhaps you could try and pitch it as a start-up or idea at a hackathon and see how it’s received? We’re also digging your thoughts around alternative data input, which is a challenge that many of our shortlisted ideas face, so we’re encouraging you all to share your findings and solutions as you go along. For more tips for this Refinement phase, check out http://ideo.pn/re-refine-tips and catch our Lowdown on Refinement at http://bit.ly/oi_refine

Photo of Sky Gilbar
Team

Hi OpenIDEO, thanks for the awesome feedback! So I'll definitely flush out the business model, been thinking about that. Also, for data collection, there's a cool project on a bin that could collect data here >> https://openideo.com/challenge/recycle-challenge/refinement/do-to-trashcans-what-nest-did-for-thermometers that could be pretty easy to hack together and it could pair well with my project perhaps? This is my first OpenIDEO Challenge, so can projects work together? How would that go?

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Lots of app-ilicious awesomeness here, Sky! In terms of a lightweight prototype –do you have thoughts on how you might test assumptions without the need for linking up to in-truck GPS? Check out some more prototyping tips here: http://ideo.pn/pr0t0type We're excited by the potential on this awesome concept...

Photo of Sky Gilbar
Team

Hi Meena,

Thanks for the feedback! I've been thinking about your comment about how to prototype this easily w/o the hauler scale data, and I've come up with a way to collect data from my neighbors that Ill then put it into an interactive prototype that they could actually experience. Check out the update above. Thanks for helping me push my thinking on this!