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Sustainability 2.0 – Part 2/2: Social Analytics for Sustainability Competition

October 25, 2011
at 10:00 am PST

In part 1 “Sustainability 2.0 – Driving Sustainability Engagement through Social Media,” I discussed the importance of promotion in sustainability on the social web. While promotion of sustainability is essential to spread outreach, analytics can be used to fuel the fire for sustainability activism, while maintaining statstics-backed accountability for those who are taking action to care for the world we live in. People are motivated by competition. E-services, including video games, are increasingly being used to motivate people, a theory which Carlos Dominguez of Cisco calls “gammification.” Dominguez discusses how it’s been proven to succeed, as companies like IBM are taking on this virtual approach to drive competition in the workplace.

Social media e-services are no different – they provide a centralized, virtual meeting place to ignite competition.

Lucid Design Group launched the Building Dashboard Network as a social network for sustainability monitoring in buildings. Harvesting water, energy and other metrics from physical meters throughout the buildings, the real-time data is shown within their cloud-based platform in user-friendly visualizations.

Most importantly, the Building Dashboard incorporates social media promotional tools into the analytics system itself. Facebook and Twitter widgets allow users to engage in competitive conversations, or just simply promote sustainability activism.

The employment of social analytics has led to positive results in environmental activism. Oberlin College launched Residence Hall Energy Competitions to reduce campus-wide energy and water waste. To this day, the Building Dashboard platform is used as an accountability measure among students, to visually and publicly display how much electricity and water is consumed by each dorm building. Competitions are organized around these metrics to reward students in buildings with the lowest energy consumption. I have provided public energy consumption data for the past 30 days on Oberlin:

According to Lucid, studies have shown that competitions have led to reductions of 56% in energy consumption during competition timeframes. New social media based competitions are being deployed regularly among institutions, as more organizations realize the importance of web 2.0 elements in their sustainability strategy.

Overall, we see how sustainability 2.0 can reach optimal exposure as a two part social strategy: front-end promotion with back-end analysis. We will continue to see a development in sustainability 2.0 as social media platforms evolve and continue to connect the physical environment we live in, with the virtual communication channels where activism is sparked.

Remember, @CiscoSocial encourages you to use those analytics!  Share your thoughts with us below, or on Twitter.

Michael Hopps
@mhopps

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