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DEAP - Developing Environmental Awareness with Persuasive

Many environmental problems occur due to our erroneous and exaggerated use of Earth resources. People still have habits that contribute to environmental destruction but sometimes a slight behaviour change can make a difference. That change can be achieved by demonstrating them the consequences of their actions to the environment. The DEAP project introduces a new paradigm for environmental awareness, which will help motivating citizens to become more environmentally responsible in their everyday life, engaging them in environmental preservation activities. New information and communication technologies have the potential to change our relationships with computational appliances. Several devices can be seamlessly integrated in our world and almost disappear from our attention, as envisioned by Mark Weiser[1]. The paradigm of ubiquitous computing brought out concepts such as “smart objects”, which can be embedded in the environment, sensing our presence and actions and reacting accordingly. An expanding branch for research is the study of public ambient displays so as to motivate positive citizenship behaviour changes. Although much of the current work in motivating behaviour changes is related to consuming habits (e.g. advertising), progress in this field can be rewarding for several applications related to the environment and quality of life. The development of pioneering environmental persuasive interfaces aims at positively motivating citizens to become more environmentally responsible in their everyday life. The purpose of this project is the study of how to stimulate citizens’ responsible environmental behaviour changes through interactive public ambient displays that sense and react according to users’ activities. Research questions include: Are public ambient displays appropriate to motivate citizens to become more environmentally responsible? How to build innovative environmental messaging through interactive contextual aware applications? What is the citizens’ receptivity towards these new forms of interaction? To answer these questions several common and undesirable environmental behaviours will be analysed, progress in the area of persuasive techniques will be studied, new technologies in the fields of ambient intelligence, wireless communications and ubiquitous computing will be explored, and creative prototypes that motivate behaviour changes concerning distinct environmental themes are going to be designed, developed and tested. In order to study the acceptability and usability of the prototypes evaluation tests will be performed in both the laboratory and real outdoor contexts. Key areas where citizen’s behaviour changes are important, such as recycling or pollution control, will be analysed. That analysis will allow for the development of new systems that contextually react to citizen’s actions and persuade them to adopt appropriate behaviours towards the environment. An example could be an interactive garbage box that automatically detects if users are correctly disposing the waste objects, congratulating them if so or advising them if not. More elaborated systems can monitor several environmental parameters, determine the appropriate actions that should be taken to maintain their correct levels, and interact with the users to persuade them to take those actions. Outcomes of the project will include the establishment of contextual aware systems that can sense the environment and stimulate users to take actions that contribute to improve it, even if they do not immediately perceive benefits. Conclusions will determine the more appropriate configurations and the effectiveness of these systems. The project will also contribute to get more people involved in environmental matters and to increase public participation in environmental problem solving. Project deliverables will include: the project Web site that will be the repository of the deliverables and will include links to the relevant research in the field; communications in national and international conferences; papers in international journals; contributions to on-going and new PhD and MSc dissertations; and prototypes. DEAP will take advantage of the research team’s strong high-tech market background and media-relations experience for the dissemination of the project results among the general public. For a closer approach to the community, public events will be organized in the form of seminars, demo exhibitions, workshops and lectures. The project involves seven researchers from FCT/UNL and Universidade de Évora, and one consultant from the University of California. The research team overall expertise spans through all scientific areas of the project: environmental education and systems, human-computer interaction, augmented reality, ubiquitous computing, persuasive technologies and ambient intelligence. A management committee with an extensive experience on project management in both academic and industrial settings will coordinate the project. Graduate students will be hired for the project team through research fellowships.


Technical Note:

Many environmental problems occur due to our erroneous and exaggerated use of Earth resources. In fact, modern societies still has habits that contribute to environmental destruction. However, a slight behaviour change can make a difference. That behaviour change can be reached by demonstrating people the consequences of their actions to the environment. Research has already undoubtedly demonstrated that point-of-decision messaging is a powerful tool to motivate behaviour changes [2,3]. Therefore, persuasive technologies can be used to bring positive changes in what people think and do. Captology (computers as persuasive technologies) [4], studies the overlapping space between persuasion and computational technologies. New information and communication technologies have the potential to change our relationships with computational appliances. Several devices can be seamlessly integrated in our world almost disappearing from our attention. This paradigm of ubiquitous computing [1] brought out concepts such as “smart objects”, which can be embedded in the environment, sensing our presence and actions and reacting accordingly. By merging the concepts of captology and ubiquitous computing, we can build systems that subtly guide the users through planned appropriate actions that may change their attitudes or behaviours. These systems can act as computers tools that provide ways to simplify user’s tasks and interaction, according to people’s needs and system’s goals. Moreover, these systems can play the role of social actors, rewarding people with positive feedback and even telling and teaching users how their actions contribute to achieve a certain goal The DEAP project introduces a new paradigm for environmental awareness, which will help motivating the general public to become more environmentally responsible in their everyday life, engaging them in environmental preservation activities. DEAP will contribute to citizens’ positive environmental behaviour changes through the use of interactive public ambient displays that sense and react according to users’ activities. The main objectives of this project are to: • Establish the most appropriate framework to stimulate citizen’s environmental behaviour changes; • Study new forms of interaction between users and world seamlessly integrated objects that sense and respond to user’s actions towards environment with messages and events that persuade them to adopt more responsible environmental behaviours; • Develop interactive public ambient display’s infrastructures that will enable the innovative interaction in real outdoor contexts; • Test the prototype’s functionalities in the laboratory and in real contexts; • Evaluate the people receptivity to these new forms of interactions and its usefulness to motivate environmental behaviour changes. Key areas where citizen’s behaviour changes are required or can be of good help (for instance recycling or pollution control) will be analysed and new systems to contextually react to citizen’s actions will be developed, in order to persuade them to adopt appropriate behaviours towards environment. An example could be an interactive garbage box that automatically detects if users are correctly disposing the waste objects, congratulating them if so or advising them if not. More elaborated systems can monitor several environmental parameters, determine the appropriate actions that should be taken to maintain their correct levels and interact with the users to persuade them to do it. Outcomes of the project will include the establishment of contextual aware systems that can sense the environment and stimulate users to take actions that contribute to improve it, even if they do not immediately perceive benefits. Conclusions will determine the more appropriate configurations and effectiveness of these systems. The project will also contribute to get more people involved in environmental matters and to increase public participation in environmental problem solving. The DEAP project involves seven researchers from Faculdade de Ciência e Tecnologia da Universidade Nova de Lisboa (FCT/UNL) and Universidade de Évora, and one consultant from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Overall, the research team expertise spans through all scientific areas of the project: environmental education and systems, human-computer interaction, augmented reality, ubiquitous computing, persuasive technologies and ambient intelligence. Graduate students will be hired for the project team through research fellowships and we believe that will result in at least two MSc and one PhD dissertations. The project will have a three-member management committee comprised by the Principal Investigator (Teresa Romão), Nuno Correia and Eduardo Dias, all from CITI-FCT/UNL. This management team brings together an extensive experience and expertise on project management in both academic and industrial settings. The management committee will interface the FFCT services regarding formal handling of the FCT requests and reports. The external consultant, Michael Goodchild, will play an important role especially in the phases of requirements and technical specification (task 2) and evaluation, analysis and dissemination of results (task 5). Professor Goodchild has an impressive background in scientific areas that are crucial to this project, namely environmental education, spatial information management and usage of spatial data to engage public participation. His expertise and long experience will also be very important for the scientific growth of the graduate students working in the project. DEAP will develop in 5 phases, or tasks: • Task 1 - Project management • Task 2 - Requirements and technical specification • Task 3 - Multimodal interfaces design • Task 4 - Development and driving applications • Task 5 – Evaluation, analysis and dissemination of results Task 1 ensures the coordination of the project supported by the project internal web site, the production of the project management reports and the dissemination of the project results through the public project website. Research materials can also be shared and managed within the project site private area, establishing a common information repository that facilitates the research team access to common data. Task 2 defines the requirements and specifications of the whole project. It will produce a selection of citizens’ environmental behaviours that need to be changed and which will be the focus of the project, as well as the requirements for the other tasks, by defining the main components of the computational architecture for the various contextual interaction systems that will contribute to persuade people to change their behaviour. In Task 3 we will design and develop multimodal user interfaces for contextual interaction and communication between the users and the applications using a combination of speech, sound, images, light effects, gestures and location, task and user-aware approaches. As a result of this effort there will be a prototype interface for the communication between users and persuasive applications. Interactive applications and Ambient Intelligence infrastructures will be developed in Task 4 and placed in public spaces for user interaction, pointing out their incorrect attitudes and respective consequences and also persuading them to adopt correct and responsible behaviours towards the environment. These infrastructures and applications can detect the user’s position and conduct and respond accordingly. The main results of Task 5 include the reports on the usability tests results and conclusions concerning the effectiveness of the implemented systems to motivate environmental behaviour changes. This task will also be responsible for the dissemination of results of the project to the scientific community as well as to the general public. The research team believes that as important as the scientific achievements of a research project is the transfer of those new developments to the society, to the general public. Therefore press and video releases will be produced in the final phase of the project and will be submitted to relevant media nationally and internationally. Also as a form of approaching the scientific activities of the project to the community, public events will be organized in the form of seminars, demo exhibitions, workshops and lectures in the scope of University courses. The project team will also try to engage a public or private entity with high public exposure to participate in the evaluation phase of the project. To conclude, we must say that the research team is totally convinced of the significant role this project can play in motivating modern societies to change their negative behaviour towards the environment. We truly believe that the new paradigm for environmental awareness we are proposing in the scope of this project has the potential to ignite a revolution in the environmental education of future generations. Finally, we are sure that the different backgrounds of the team members and the quality of their work guarantees a successful project.


{ Project Info }

Coordinated by: Fundação da Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia (FFCT/FCT/UNL)

Project Type: PN ( National basic research or R&D projects )

Funding Entity: FCT / MCTES

Total Funding Amount: 123 Keuro

CITI Funding Amount: 123 Keuro


Start Date: 2010-01-01 / Efective Start Date: 2010-01-01

End Date: 2012-06-30 / Efective End Date: 2012-12-31




{ CITI Participations }


{ Partnerships }
  • Universidade de Évora (Portugal)
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