The air in Gothenburg city does not always meet the environmental quality standards. Some of the air pollution is caused by emissions from industries and shipping, but the biggest emission comes from road traffic. In short, the people of Gothenburg choose the car too often, leaving the air pollution in the city too high. Chalmers students Dilan Ustunyagiz and Jackson Malcolm believe that one should be able to deal with the car use through nudging. Nudging is a branch of behavioral economics and surrounds influencing people's behavior, often by arranging a choice situation. In their master's project, the Chalmers students have designed a new function in the app Parking Gothenburg, where air pollution is shown in real time as a cloud over the city. The grayer clouds, the more air pollution.
“We have done surveys and interviews with about 400 Gothenburgers and they show that people want to be environmentally friendly, but they do not always know how”, says Dilan Ustunyagiz.
Tested time and price difference
The idea is that someone who, for example, wants to travel from his home in Mölnlycke to his workplace at Järntorget, checks the app and, based on what the cloud of air pollution looks like right then, can decide not to contribute to more emissions, but instead choose another form of transport than driving his own car.
“Our studies also show that time and cost are often the two most important factors when it comes to a choice of transport. So, we have tested how big the price and time difference can be travelling by different transport types from A to B. Many times, a combination of driving your own car to a commuter parking and from there travel with public transport wins, because you get to go past the traffic jams and also avoid the expensive parking fees in the city center. In addition, you are now able to buy your bus ticket in the parking app, says Dilan Ustunyagiz.
Updates in real time
The idea for an app was a combination of Parkingsbolaget's positive attitude towards working with visionary projects, their own interest to work with environmental issues, and the fact that Jackson Malcolm had previously been involved with an air quality collaboration from Gothenburg before. Now the master’s project is finished, and Jackson is working in a start up, but Dilan is still working at Parkeringsbolaget to further develop the app.
“One thing we are investigating is how we can increase the number of sensors in the city so that the cloud can be updated in real time. In the blue machines where you buy your parking ticket, there is already room for sensors, so now we are investigating to buy more and cheaper air measurement sensors”, says Dilan Ustunyagiz. “Then I will continue to develop the project, think about a possible reward system for those who travel environmentally friendly frequently. And by December 2019 we hope to test the project via a pilot study”.
Text: Helena Österling by Wåhlberg
Photo: Carina Gran