Digital Green Doors

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Computer Science

Abstract

Domestic environmental technologies (DETs) such as solid wall insulation, ground source heat pumps and rainwater harvesting have an important role to play if the UK is to meet its environmental objectives around carbon emissions, water conservation and energy use. Many such technologies are cost effective and simple to install, and schemes such as the forthcoming Green Deal make them financially possible for more people. However, if they are to become widely adopted they must be seen as a 'social norm' within communities. An effective way to do this is to encourage interaction between 'local experts' who have installed such technologies, and their neighbours. In this way, best practice can be spread through a community. Digital technology can be used to promote this, by providing information about local experts, mediating communication, creating enjoyable games through which people interact, and rewarding those who contribute their time. This project will work with Bristol Green Doors, a community interest company which promotes events to support communities in shared learning around DETs, to develop and assess a set of distributed mobile services to inform, entertain and engage local community members in sharing best practice. It will also look at how local business recommendations that emerge from such sharing can be tracked and assessed for effectiveness, and so potentially monetised in an online business model.

The project will investigate (i) whether and how digital technology can be used to catalyse the spread of best practice within communities, and (ii) whether and how this results in a demonstrable impact on the local economy which can be digitally tracked. It's four objectives are:
A. Understand how best-practice sharing around DETs currently takes place in the community, what barriers there are, and what ideas stakeholders have for improving it.
B. Develop in collaboration with the community a set of distributed services to support best-practice sharing and recommendation tracking.
C. Assess the effectiveness in spreading best practice, acceptability to the community, and impact on local business of different feature sets and functionality the distributed services provide.
D. Assess the project with regard to generality of lessons and insights; identify both general and more situation-specific learnings for use in digital enablement of community best-practice sharing and the stimulation of local business.

The resulting services will be deployed in the Bristol area by Bristol Green Doors, resulting in increased engagement with DETs by the community. The service platform will be released open source, for use by other organisations involved in community engagement with DETs, and training will be provided through engagement workshops and documentation. The more general research results will be shared with businesses, policy makers and community organisations interested in the spreading of best practice within communities through workshops and publication in both academic and popular venues.

Planned Impact

The most immediate beneficiaries of our research are Bristol Green Doors and the communities connected with them, who will benefit directly and immediately from the trials and the software we develop. Bristol Green Doors will benefit from improved engagement with their services, and people in Bristol (especially owners of 'hard to treat' houses) will benefit from a better understanding of domestic environmental technology options available to them. Local businesses associated with domestic environmental technologies will benefit from an improved flow of 'leads' and resulting business contracts. The community will benefit from increased social cohesion.

The next tier of beneficiaries of our research are the immediate group of stakeholders who make up our Stakeholder Advisory Board, together with their customers and partners. These will get an intimate understanding of the potential of digital technology to spread best practice in a community, what works and what doesnt, both specifically to promote DET uptake and also more broadly. They will also gain access to open source software and methodological guidance to enable them to experiment and apply the approach. For most of the stakeholders, it will allow them to develop products and services to offer their customers to encourage energy and resource efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. In other cases (NGOs, Local Authorities) it supports their strategic objectives of reducing carbon emissions and improving social cohesion. Through this, we expect the research to influence more broadly the sectors represented on our Stakeholder Advisory Board - utilities, IT services, mobile services, gaming, carbon reduction services, local government and sustainability NGOs. It will disseminate an awareness and understanding of the effectiveness of different digital services in supporting dissemination of best practice within communities.

More broadly the research benefits society, and local and national government with associated objectives and targets, by providing a new and innovative approach to improving the sustainability performance of domestic properties, encouraging volunteering, and improving social cohesion.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Personalised reports can be generated from smartphone QR scans to support people collecting information from a community green homes event. However, the value of such reports depends on the buy-in of the homeowners providing helpful advice.
Exploitation Route Our findings are influencing the design of digital online communities to support retrofitting of homes. Further research is needed on effective engagement of householders to provide information in an easy way.
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Environment

 
Description Insights into the design of online communities to support physical communities are being used by Bristol Green Doors to help shape their new online community design.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Environment
Impact Types Societal

 
Description Bristol Green Doors project partnership 
Organisation Bristol Green Doors
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The main contributions by our team was (also in part reflected in section engagement) the development of a smartphone app (Android&iOS) to be used during open homes events including the integration of this technical process into the general operation of the organisation (collecting house holder data for inclusion into the app in particular).
Collaborator Contribution BGD provided us with the requirements to the app (the business case) and the data to be presented in it.
Impact Website Smartphone and Tablet App.
Start Year 2013
 
Title Bristol Green Doors 2013 app release 
Description App released for use at Bristol Green Doors weekend, 28-29 Sept 2013, including QR code generation of personalised reports. App used at Bristol Green Doors event allowed residents to visit open homes displaying energy efficient measures and sharing retrofit experiences. Residents scanned QR codes and received personalised reports based on their particular interests and visits undertaken. This facilitated community learning around energy efficiency. Beneficiaries: Residents of Bristol Contribution Method: Research explored user interaction with the technology 'in the wild' and existing barriers to retrofit uptake through green deal, etc. This allowed use of digital technology to facilitate the overcoming of both informational and social barriers. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact Users of the Greendoors app were able to access additional information about retrofitting measures, thereby making the research process much easier. 
URL https://greendoors.cs.bris.ac.uk/
 
Title Bristol Green Doors 2014 app release 
Description The fourth and final release of the Greendoors app contained all of the given functions (maps, routes, scan and save, favourites), and worked the best of all prototypes tested. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact The final version of the app allowed for continuity to be examined between users of Greendoors 2013 and Greendoors 2014, e.g. did familiarity with the app encourage a larger number of downloads or more indepth use? 
URL https://greendoors.cs.bris.ac.uk/
 
Title Frome Open Homes app release 
Description Smart-phone, tablet and web-based app to widen participation released, based on learnings from Bristol Green Doors 2013 results. App used at Frome Open Homes event allowed residents to visit open homes displaying energy efficient measures and sharing retrofit experiences. Residents scanned QR codes and received personalised reports based on their particular interests and visits undertaken. This facilitated community learning around energy efficiency. Additional features in this version included routes, a more intuitive interface, and a method of obtaining live reports about retrofitting measures. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact This version of the app was greatly improved from the first iteration, and the creation of live reports allowed users to get the information they requested in a more timely fashion. 
URL https://greendoors.cs.bris.ac.uk/
 
Title South Wiltshire Green Doors app release 
Description This is the third iteration of the Greendoors app, and was further improved for this deployment. Beneficiaries: Residents of South Wiltshire (primarily around the city of Salisbury) 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact The use of this app in a rural rather than urban environment further allowed the research team to investigate its benefits and limitations, while also introducing the technology to a new audience. 
URL https://greendoors.cs.bris.ac.uk/
 
Description Article in Frome Times 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Informed those in the local area about research occurring within their community.

May have encouraged residents to download and use the app, or to attend the Frome Open Homes event about domestic retrofitting.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.frometimes.co.uk/2014/03/11/frome-open-homes-connecting-people-saving-energy/
 
Description Bristol Green Doors - Measuring the Impact of Retrofitting Cabot Institute Blog Article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Provided an up-to-date view of research occurring at the University of Bristol regarding the topic of energy reduction.

Strengthened contacts between researchers and Cabot Institute.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://cabot-institute.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/bristol-green-doors-measuring-impact-of.html
 
Description Digital Green Doors Social Media Presence 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Set up Facebook and Twitter accounts for Digital Green Doors to communicate about the project with interested members of the public.

As a result of the Twitter feed, we were approached by South Wiltshire Green Doors and we were able to run a trial of the app for this event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL https://twitter.com/GreenDoors2014
 
Description Greendoors App Animation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Made the purpose of the Greendoors app easily understandable.

The animation predisposed householders to opting in to app participation because they could more easily see how it was going to be used and that the aim of it was not to distract from their involvement in open days.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://youtu.be/p_huiaIT8bM
 
Description Invited Talk at Electronic Campaigning Forum 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact http://ecflive.fairsay.com/ecf2014/crowdsourcing-for-ngos/.

Primary audience - NGOs large and small, international gathering

Secondary Audience - Technology developers for the above. (eg 'Engaging Networks')

Networking
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://ecflive.fairsay.com/ecf2014/crowdsourcing-for-ngos/
 
Description Keynote Presentation at Swedish Centre for Environmental and Sustainable Communications 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of results of Digital Green Doors work so far.

After talk I was invited by Swedish research councils to be an assessor of their research centre.
I was asked by attendees to give an invited talk at EnviroInfo 2014
I was asked by attendees to be Program Chair of ICT4S2015
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014
 
Description Motivating Crowdsourcing for Community Campaigns 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invited Seminar at UCL Interaction Centre.

Dissemination.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Soapbox Science Public Engagement 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Encouraged audience to get involved in citizen science

Asked to write blog entry for Soapbox Science website (http://soapboxscience.org/?p=1209) and a small article for a local magazine that is provided to all sixth-form students in Bristol.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://soapboxscience.org/
 
Description Software Sustainability Institute Blog Entry 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A blog entry about the Digital Green Doors project was published as part of the Software Sustainability Institute's Day in the Life blog, which they report gets over 17,000 hits a month. The intent of the entry is to highlight to a specialist audience how technology can be used to support sustainable activities.

As the blog entry as only recently gone live, there is no impact as yet. However, we hope that this may encourage discussion and potentially spark research partnerships.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.software.ac.uk/blog/2014-11-13-what-s-behind-green-door-making-homes-more-energy-efficien...
 
Description Winner of Green Hackathon Stockholm 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact This day-long event sparked discussion around the topic of food waste, and the idea was publicized upon return to our local institution.

As a result in the participation of the Green Hackathon about food waste and subsequent winning of the contest with the prototype app, Eat Exchange; a blog entry was written to disseminate the results: http://big.cs.bris.ac.uk/2014/09/green-hackathon-win-at-ict4s-hacking-for-sustainability/

There has been discussion of taking this idea further, especially in relation to local community groups such as FoodCycle and The Real Junk Food Project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://ict4s.greenhackathon.com/#hacks