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Tidy Street: Changing Neighbors' Behaviors through Voluntary Monitoring and Public Infographics

Residents Tidy Street (Brighton, UK) collaborated with a graffiti artist, producing street art each day to indicate their electricity usage

Photo of Meena Kadri
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This post was originally shared by LaTeisha on our OpenIDEO Vibrant Cities Challenge. I'm cross-pollinating it here as it has lots of relevance to our Renewable Enegry Challenge around engaging communities and visualising consumption.

"After being reminded of this project in Gary Huswit's Urbanized film, I thought I would post it.

Over two months in spring 2011, The Tidy Street project engaged volunteer residents and a street artist in a project attempting to change energy-consuming behavior.  Organizers gave residential participants electricity meters to track how much electricity different devices in their home use. A website enabled them to see how the electricity usage in their home changed over time – and allowed them to compare that against the street's average. They could also compare that to the national average or even that of other countries. Once participants started measuring, a local graffiti artist painted the street's average energy use against the Brighton average in a graph on the road outside their homes, updating this each day with information from the prior 24 hours. 

The project aimed to answer whether the public display of this monitored data would change the community's electricity consumption during the project. Indeed,  over the first three weeks, the street's average energy use dropped by 15%, with some cutting usage by as much as 30%.

I'm really impressed by the impact of monitoring and publicly sharing behavioral changes and the sense of project ownership and civic pride the participants seemed to have felt."

How might we help communities visualise their collective consumption to trigger onwards conversations in an engaging way? Could this kind of thing be used for visualising crowdsourcing of community renewable enegry initiatives too?



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