This is Jim (white beard) from Pointe-Claire, Montreal. He’s just been handed a ticket for good behaviour by Mayor Morris Trudeau (white shirt, former cop, no relation to Justin) in a pioneering project we’re studying as part of our Smart Cities research at Fluxx.
Since May 2015, over 1,000 citizens have been given tickets for good behaviour like “using roads in a safe and respectful manner, stopping at red lights and stop signs, obeying signals, waiting for the crossing lights at busy intersections and neither texting nor talking on a cellphone while driving.”
Citizens are a little confused: “I saw the flashing lights of the police car but I had no idea what was going on,” Scott told the Montreal Gazette. “I wondered why they were approaching me.” The ticket he received has a thumbs up logo, and no monetary or prize value.
This kind of positive reinforcement can seem strange in the context of police enforcement, but is rooted in the most basic behavioural psychology, and is increasingly being used by cities around the world to deal with a range of issues.
Milan: The insurer paying drivers to leave their cars at home
Milan has the worst traffic in Europe and North America. Drivers there spend 57 hours a year in jams. (INRIX data, reported here in the Daily Mail).
To counter this and following a similar approach to Montreal campaign the second largest insurance company in Italy Unipol came up with an interesting solution to the city’s problems. By giving the residents of Milan free public transit vouchers in return for leaving their cars at home.
“The city is using connected car devices made by Octo Telematics, a Rome-based telematics provider, installed behind the dashboards of Unipol customers’ vehicles, to transmit location data and ensure that cars remain parked on the driveway.” (FT).
This is the little box of traffic magic from Octo, called Unibox
Unipol policyholders receive a credit of €1,50 — the cost of one public transportation ticket — for every day their vehicles remain parked during peak hours.
In a lovely connected cities detail, participants can collect their tickets at any ATM ticket machine, in Milan.
Breda, Netherlands: The city rewarding drivers for staying at home
Dealing with traffic issues of their own, the Dutch city of Breda in 2012 launched the initiative ‘Positive Drive’. Instead of an expensive telematics box that needs to be installed in the car, they used a simple smartphone ap.
The Positive Drive app uses nudges (coaching, prizes, social status, achievements, etc) to strengthen the positive behaviours.
“Positive Drive rewards car drivers who respect speed limits with (s)miles. If they cycle instead of driving, they earn more (s)miles. Bonus (s)miles are rewarded when road users choose certain trajectories over others. In this way, the municipality can promote particular cycle routes and locations, and with their ‘smiles’ the participants can win prizes donated by enterprises based Breda” (Eltis).
Dubai: White Points to reduce deaths in traffic
Back in 2013 the city of Dubai together with its police department launched a project called the ‘White Point’ system. Where participants can earn points by following traffic laws and avoid getting fines and tickets.
It was launched by Maj Gen Mohammed Al Zafeen, head of the Federal Traffic Council and assistant to the Dubai Police chief in operational affairs as an experiment that hopefully could help reducing the amount of deaths in traffic, but also encourage positive driving.
“We started in 2013 by honouring 700 motorists, and now in 2016 we’ll be honouring more than double that amount. The system is still being developed, and we believe the more we reward people for good behaviour, the more positive the effect will be.” Maj Gen Al Zafeen (The National)
The participants can then earn a maximum of 24 points in one year. In case of a traffic violation, motorists can lose a month’s points and if involved in a huge violation, may lose their accumulated white points. These violations also include traffic fines such as ‘Salik’ (tolls) and parking fines. The system also allows drivers to recover points lost on their licences by driving without any infringement over a period of time.
QUOTE FROM THE PODCAST
Do good, feel good. It’s really true.
It’s been 17 years since you died. Every year, I’m reminded of it. The 25th of October you left this world after being hit by a car. You flew through the air, and I wonder: What were your last thoughts? Did you realize this would be your last seconds? That you never would see your family and friends again?
Who would you be today, if you were still here? You were only 16. We talked about moving in together when I was 16, because we needed to spend as much time together as possible. You always made me smile, no matter how bad my day was. But after you died, smiling was harder. For years there was only blackness. When I saw other friends, it did not feel right, because I knew there never would be another you. Nobody could replace you, no one understood me as well as you did. You loved me to bits, and it was mutual.
I don’t know if there is a life after this. I’ve pondered that possibility since you died. To never see you again, feels terrible. I hope you are sitting on a cloud, watching over me. Are you sad? Sad because you had so many dreams that never will come true?
I’ve felt guilty for years. Why did I survive when you didn’t? I’ve been in two car accidents, but I’m still here. You were at the wrong place at the wrong time, and that feels unfair. You were loved by so many people, and you always saw the good in everyone around you. I’ve tried to keep that in mind, to bring it with me whenever I encounter new people. I am blessed to have known you.
Are you proud of me? Did I manage to become the person you hoped I would become?
17 years later, and I can still see your face and hear your voice when I close my eyes. The memories we shared are so precious to me, and I can’t and won’t ever forget you.
The following days will be hard. 17 years ago I lost my best friend. She was hit by a car and died immediately. I was only 15 and it turned my world upside down. Grief doesn’t stop, it’s always there with you. And I’m glad. It means I have loved and cared about somebody deeply.
For years I was afraid of becoming too attached to people. I feared they would leave me behind. But I couldn’t resist. I’ve loved a lot of people, even if they have left me behind and broken my heart.
I expect the following days will be hard, but I will get through it. I will be with people I love and appreciate that they’re in my life. Life is all about relationships, and when my best friend died, I really understood that fully.
It’s been a long time since I’ve written. Mostly because I’ve been busy in my new job and with suddenly having a new family to adjust into.
When I started working clinically with adults again, it felt like coming home. The only worry was that I just had a contract for one year, so I was nervous about if I would get a permanent job. I really love it here, there a so many experienced therapists and in addition to that, many group therapies for different diagnoses. When I started, I was asked if I wanted to try to be a group therapist myself, something I was really excited about. This fall, I got the chance to be a therapist together with two other colleagues, and I have already learnt so much. The group is for patients with PTSD, and we work after a manual that focus on stabilization and education about trauma. To see how healing it is for traumatized individuals to meet others who struggle with the same symptoms as they do, has been a revelation. Logically, I know how good it must feel to meet others in the same situation as yourself, but seeing it with my own eyes is uplifting. I can almost see the light in the group members eyes when they emotionally feel that their reactions might be normal based on what they’ve been through.
In August, I had another interview with my leader, after I applied for a permanent job here. On my birthday, my leader came into my office and delivered the good news: I got the job! So now I know I can be here as long as I want, and it feels amazing. My leader told me that they wanted to transfer me to working with psychosis, something I haven’t done much in the past. But I look forward to it. I have met people with schizophrenia before, and those I’ve talked with are often fascinating people with many resources. I also have a soft spot for them since my grandfather had schizophrenia, and he was one of the kindest human beings I’ve ever met.
It will be a bit sad to say goodbye to the patients I’ve having now, but I’m ready for new tasks and new challenges. I’ve always liked to learn more, and this is a chance to work with the system around the patients, and working in a team with experienced therapists who love what they do.
So, even if it’s always scary to start with something new, I am ready to grow and learn.