The Consumption Show

Akanksha Gupta, Jennifer Wieskopf, Rotem Fisch, Lisa Cagnin, Elisa Pirola (Politecnico di Milano, Italy)

Access to public services depending on individual performance measured through data surveillance

The Consumption Show is a system that benchmarks and visualizes individual citizens’ waste, energy and water performance through an open dashboard. Making this data trackable and accessible creates a new social contract on environmental responsibility, directly affecting citizenship rights. The system, thus, creates a framework for individuals, companies and governments to make decisions based on individual performance, rewarding or penalizing citizens via access (or lack thereof) to products and services.


  • fabio

    I am particularly intrigued by this concept. The idea to measure individual performance in exchange for public services can enforce positive behavior among citizens. However, the role of the government in this is quite critical.The role of the government however, is quite critical. The utopian outlook could get affected by dystopic endeavours.

  • akriti

    Great idea!
    Tracking and real-time visibility of such metrics are key to improvement! This also holds some solid scope for gamification, which will go on to motivate citizens further! Good luck with this.

    • akanksha

      The gamification aspect could make the idea more interesting. However, don’t you think one could lose the seriousness behind monitoring these metrics?

      • jennw

        Hmm. I think the gamification will keep a certain segment of citizens interested. While it may start out as ‘a game’ rather than sustainability for this group, I think the important thing is that they’d be meeting the end goal. If they are not interested in sustainability but become more sustainable to navigate ‘the game’, is it not a win-win? They will have to learn about sustainability to navigate the game, and their actions will be more sustainable and benefit the environment.

  • ragav208

    There is a definite need of a system to track individual citizens waste, energy and water performance in order to avoid situations like the Cape Town water crisis. Innovative solutions from data collected from multiple sources would help to plan utilization of limited resources.

  • ameva10

    Great & foresighted Concept

  • alokkumar

    very good & New concept

  • munishjaitly

    It is great concept, we appreciate your innovative thinking

  • froth

    Great idea! We track everything else with our apps (exercise, sleep, phone use, caloric intake etc) and this seems like a logical addition for sure. It could also be scalded to households and corporations. I agree with a previous comment that government oversight is key and that we have to make sure it is not mis-used.

    • jennw

      I recently attended an event where Krista Jones, Managing Director of MaRS, said “we are living in a world that is technology-enabled; we have to learn how to use technology to make our citizens successful.” We know people have started to track ‘everything’ in their lives based on personal preferences and priority, in many cases, to better themselves. With The Consumption Show we have an opportunity to leverage this technology and ‘willingness to track’ to channel positive citizen activity for community / global benefit, and improve the environment for all.

  • suyog

    As a concept it’s a nice start. Though there are many details you will have to work on. For example, as you said it’s individualised, how do you count it for people sharing common spaces like, family and home. How do you measure people sharing transport. I know you will come up with great ideas to resolve such issues. Good start!

    • akanksha

      People using shared services like transport and others could in fact be rewarded for their actions. With geolocation and real-time updates, and some AI, it could be possible to do so. However, the use of resources at homes or offices would then be averaged out depending upon the number of occupants.

    • jennw

      Thanks for the feedback! Good questions! For example, if two people move in together, do their dashboard allowances remain the same, or do each get lowered following an ‘economies of scale’ concept, and assuming that they can share resources and therefore live more sustainably together? Would, for example, collaborative living lower your dashboard allowance but give you increased social benefits?

  • anmol

    We keep on complaining about the things that are happening around us but we rarely do anything about them. This idea makes a lot of sense as it makes everyone accountable and responsible. Everyone has to sensitive and take small steps to achieve the goal of achieving a sustainable tomorrow.

    Great inovative idea, all the best guys.

    • jennw

      Thanks for your comments! Accountability is the driving principle for this concept. You mention complains without action: given that this provides an individual dashboard, it means you have choices to make the program work for you. You’re given a certain allowance, and then each individual is able to make his/her own choices on how to live within it based on their lifestyle and preferences. It’s a framework that offers flexibility to benefit the environment in a way that suits citizen needs.

  • architgupta

    This is a very fascinating concept. However, I have one doubt. Industrial waste is a major problem. Do you think that a system like this would be possible for industries or businesses also? Maybe like a tax system which is proportionate to the waste generated.

    • akanksha

      That is a great idea. We were focusing only on individual consumption. But for business and industries which actually accounts for most of the waste, tax rebates can be implemented. However, the process to monitor the same will be interesting, as one must consider the entire supply chain.

    • jennw

      Yes, I think the concept can be scaled so that individuals can have a certain dashboard and allowances, then that could scale for households, businesses of different sizes, etc. It will be critical to establish benchmarks that are reasonable yet trend towards improved sustainability rather than the status quo. Perhaps there could be a multi-year program of reducing allowances to allow citizens to ease into the program and make sustainable lifestyle changes.

  • sukritchadha

    Intriguing idea and a great start. Wanted to understand the implications of collecting such data with respect to certain human rights like privacy etc.?

  • dhruvg

    A great concept which will help countries grow more sustainably and responsibly. Moreover, the government can incentivize the citizens to link their positive credits to a centralised identity card (eg. Social Security Number in the USA or Aadhar in India) for getting a better credit score, tax subsidies or even cheaper public transport and much more and vice versa for the negative score. Much like promoting positive environmental practices, positive credit points can also be allocated for responsible waste disposal, social work, philanthropy etc.
    All the best to the team.

    • ibrida

      I agree with you. I believe this is what the concept is trying to address. Linking social and environmental behaviours and responsibilities.

    • jennw

      Thanks for the great ideas! To build on this, as data is collected, the government can also evaluate aggregated data to tailor programs to different regions, cities, neighbourhoods, etc. Artificial intelligence, trend analysis and speculative design can identify gaps and best practices to help manage sustainability on both an individual and a broader scale.

  • ibrida

    I think it’s a great idea. Of course, as some of the comments above, there are more details to be defined, but it identifies some core areas to act upon. It’s not just teaching the citizen to be environmentally sustainable, but also affecting the socio-economic aspect of his life. It can promote a shared economy, and hence a more integrated society.

  • dass

    Interesting concept! I would like to know how can families subscribe to these systems. And when does the tracking begin in the future i.e. since one’s birth or as when becomes an adult?

    • jennw

      Very interesting question, and something up for (lots of!) discussion and testing. At what age does a child become responsible for his/her own sustainability? Would it mirror other regulation such as the driving or drinking age, or in fact start much younger? Could there be a shared dashboard between parent/guardian and child for a certain number of years? Can parents be rewarded for having their children become sustainably-aware citizens from a very young age? Can children have their own child-friendly families dashboard with different themes, etc to incentivize them and ingrain sustainability in a fun and playful light early on. What do you think? 3-year olds today are navigating iPads, iPhones, Televisions, etc. Can they be navigating sustainability?

      • dass

        Yes. This is a big debate. Thank you for pointing out all these questions. It also widened by point of view.
        However, I do believe that these rules should set in place from an early age. Just like you mentioned, that kids are becoming tech savy already. But, there could also be regulations where they can be held accountable for their actions only after the adult age.

  • anna2

    Penso che questo sistema si potrebbe benissimo integrare alle nostre vite, dato che siamo abituati all’utilizzo di app tutti i giorni e per qualunque cosa. Inoltre questo sistema avendo dei riscontri diretti sulla vita privata potrebbe aumentare la consapevolezza personale di ogni singolo cittadino, contribuendo così al benessere della città

  • beyza

    It a great idea. I think that individuals will take more responsibility by seeing the results of their behaviors. Feedback for their consumption patterns can be improved to increase engagement.

  • sruthy

    Very interesting and innovative concept, good work. I wish you could explain more on how the data would be useful for the Govt other than surveillance and also think about the consequences of having the data of the immigrants from the immigrants point of view and its implications on their lives.

  • shubhs

    The concept seems pretty good and solid. If implemented, it could be a great way to make people responsible for their own actions. Though i would love to know more about how you would be able to track all tbe activities of a person, for example, if he is buying organic products, locally produced commodities, etc.
    Also given the amout of data you guys want to collect, what about the privacy and possibilities of this personal data being leaked?

    • dass

      I agree with you. It’s a good question. How can one track the goods consumption. Maybe these choices start in the beginning of the supply chain. Businesses need to make sustainable choices such that the end consumer only has those options.

  • benz

    Overall, the real-time tracking is practicle approach for consumption awareness. For me, there are some of comments;

    1. For the concept of consumption, I would prefer “reasonable” more than just “reduction” since energy consumption should respond to individual need, lifestyle, and life status of people in that moments of life.
    2. The ecosystem is important for this concept, the presentation should mention or show the possibility of technology integration (e.g. IoT)
    3. The reward system is a good motivation, but as a consumer, I would prefer the reward that directly linked with my consumption, for example; reducing cost of energy that I have to pay. Also; the concept of dynamic pricing can be beneficial for the concept.
    4. Since the concept will be implemented in the future, 2030 is next 10 years, I don’t think smart phone is still be the only device for enable this concept, It can be different kind of devices which nowadays people are testing it.

    • akanksha

      Thank you so much for your critical comments.
      As for the technology involved, we will require the following :
      Chip technology and blockchain lifecycle tracking to monitor waste
      Big data/ open analytics dashboard
      AI and IoT to connect and monitor physical – digital locations.
      Unfortunately, these details were not published in this description.

      We do not imagine an app, we are only calling it a dashboard, the eventual touchpoint is of course dependent upon the technologies available in 2030. Could be holograms for all we know. In the video, to make it more easy to understand by the audience, we used the mobile phone screen.

      Further, for the rewards system. It is linked directly to the individual. It will affect their personal access or denial of public services. However, using ‘dynamic pricing’ could also be helpful.

  • rishabh

    Even though, it’s a little harsh, to lock out a person from their own car or stop them from using appliances they bought, it does make sense for implementing it for a short period of time rather than using this for always monitoring and controlling usage . Once the mindset of the majority is corrected in terms of frugality towards energy usage, this program can be discontinued untill further requirement arises.

    • akanksha

      The frugality of the idea (locking out citizens out of their cars and so on) is directly dependent on the citizen- state dynamics. One can imagine a strong government/ state with a weak citizen where these services seem more rigid and strict. But in a different scenario, the access or denial to public services can be less frugal. The idea was to bring forth an extreme case.

  • studiodot

    Linking personal dashboard and rewards to a core issue like environmental sustainability seems like a really good use of this technology that we have now and possibly in the future.

  • larry

    I can see people getting engaged as it is similar to keeping a food log on your diet or Fitbit tracking log to meet your activity goals – both items that citizens are eagerly adopting today. This type of behaviour is even ‘trendy’. Similar also to Nest to control the heating and lights in your home. People like to have this element of control…or even, ‘remote’ control. The difference is that the information is in the public domain, so a level of trust would have to be established.

    • akanksha

      Thank you for your comment. Yes, you are right. Today we are tracking, tapping, controlling everything. But citizens need to trust in the policy and the government that it’s not a big brother move, but it’s being done to improve their lives and that of their future generations.

  • parthgarg

    The idea is very interesting. But I have doubts about the measurement of the metrics that are showed in the prototype. Citizens are concerned when you are tracking how they move (which i guess geo location would be used to check how people travel and which transport they use). And this could be very important as even with the GDPR in place the actual data is being collected by EU so people can probably not use the service in the way it is presented. I believe the reward based system could really work and can be improved to bring a lot of changes. Good luck!

  • mmathur95

    This is a very innovative concept. Giving access to public services depending on individual performance would initiate sustainable use of resources. However, there are a hacks available today and people might find their way around this. There should be proper implementation by the Government to regulate this.

  • brandeis

    As presented I wonder if the concept is too totalitarian? Perhaps instead of taking away access to services, financial incentives or taxes/levies can be issued when a citizen is abusing the system. In my ideal scenario, there would be no direct punishment, and the system would not be government controlled.

  • sariwa

    If only it was so easy to get people to change their bad behaviors and poor choices. The video addresses an important topic with great animaion, and very good suggestions. I am not sure I want to see people more dependent of their cell phones . It does make you think

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