the SmartH2O project is finally coming to an end. It has been three intense years with ups and downs as it usually happens in such collaborative projects. We lost the opportunity of deploying the SmartH2O platform in London, as the metering infrastructure had been delayed, but on the other hand this gave us the opportunity to get Valencia on board. The local water utility has more than 400,000 smart meters already deployed and this gave us the possibility of proceeding with the validation of the scientific hypotheses supporting the SmartH2O approach. You can read more about the Valencia case study in this issue of the newsletter.
The question you surely have for us at the end of the project is: does it work? Or better: can we stimulate users to change their water consumption behaviour by means of an increased awareness on the environmental and economic consequences, supported by a gamification approach? Our results are generally positive, in some cases more substantial than those observed in other studies: we have observed a difference in consumption between the intervention and the control group of more than 21%. Yet, we think that these results are preliminary, as we have tested this platform in only two pilots, with a little over 550 involved users.
Furthermore, we can conclude that the social awareness mechanism and the gamification approach proposed by SmartH2O have been effective in increasing the engagement of households with water consumption-related information. Yet, more work is needed to find out how users can be motivated to sign up for such apps. A possible answer could come from intelligent user profiling algorithms that act as smart consultants detecting anomalies and excessive consumption patterns, helping the users in reducing their water use. While this is surely a challenging topic, the implications regarding data protection and privacy are definitely not negligible.
SmartH2O Project Director