lördag 5 oktober 2013

Improved energy habits though Quantified Self

The previous blog post was about a research grant application I handed in to The Swedish Energy Agency earlier this week. Well, I was actually involved in writing not just one but rather two applications to the "Energy, IT and Design" research program.

The main difference between these two applications is that while I was responsible for the other application, I'm just a co-applicant in this application. The main author and principal investigator is my colleague Björn Hedin and the other co-authors are two other colleagues of mine from my department - Media Technology and Interaction Design - Henrik Artman and Jorge Zapico. The application has a long and slightly awkward name, "Improved energy counseling and energy habits by Quantified Self Assisted Advisory". Here is the 150-word abstract:

Quantified Self means regularly logging data about yourself, such as weight, running routes, or expenses. Numerous "apps" and computer supported systems are available for this, such as "Runkeeper". These have proven very powerful for getting people to achieve and sustain habit changes for the better. We intend to transfer the concept Quantified Self to environmental and energy habits in order to support behavior change.

Collected data on energy and climate can, in the same way as fitness apps, be used on individual or group level, to set goals and create new habits. However, within this project we intend to go one step further and, in cooperation with the municipal energy and climate advisers, through “Energikontoren Sverige”, develop a "Quantified Self Assisted Advisory", or professional advice using the Quantified Self. Energy advisors will have access to the collected data and thus have an overall picture that provides vastly improved opportunities to provide better advice.

This project idea builds on Björn's work on tracking and visualizing data in order to externalize and "discover" own habits and and initiate desired behavioral changes, but the domain has here been switched from his main area of research, learning/studying, to energy habits.

The cool thing is that the project connects individuals(-with-apps), quantified self and the already-existing "energy advisory offices" [Energikontor] that can be found all around Sweden. The energy offices are an official partner of ours in the application and they will get access to info that is collected through the app. The end result is that ordinary citizens will get better advice from the energy offices. Citizens' data is not high-jacked or hidden though, it is of course also available directly (but not exclusively) to the end users, and they don't have to consult the energy offices if they are "data-literate" or like to play around with the personal data they themselves have collected (just like in Runkeeper and similar apps). Last but not least, the project would of course also provide us with a lot of data so that we can write interesting papers.

I will not work as much in this project as in the other project (should we get funded...). In this project my contribution would cover a little more than half a year of my time, but spread out over a three-year period.

Contact person for students who are interested in writing a thesis in this area/project:
- Daniel Pargman, pargman(a)kth.se

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