Using Digital Social Market applications to incentivise active travel : empirical analysis of a smart city initiative

Manca, Francesco and Daina, Nicolò and Sivakumar, Aruna and Xin Yi, Jayne Wee and Zavistas, Konstantinos and Gemini, Giuliana and Vegetti, Irene and Dargan, Liam and Marchet, Francesco (2021) Using Digital Social Market applications to incentivise active travel : empirical analysis of a smart city initiative. Preprint / Working Paper. SSRN, New York. (

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Smart technology, such as mobile communication networks, and behaviour-based approaches to promote citizens’ engagement, both play a key role in making future living sustainable and tackling the persisting urban problems in cities and densely populated urban areas. In the context of Sharing Cities, a programme that aims to deliver smart cities solutions in Europe, one of the prominent interventions in the city of Milan (Italy) has been the deployment and monitoring of a Digital Social Market (DSM) tool, a smartphone app through which cities can engage with residents and encourage sustainable behaviours by offering non-monetary rewards. This paper aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the DSM approach to promote active travel (cycling and walking) by analysing the data collected through the app as well as through participants’ surveys. Our model results show that a broader engagement with the DSM app (number of claps to posts, number of posts made, non-monetary rewards earned by participating in non-active travel events) is positively correlated with the monitored level of active travel. Furthermore, lifestyles, attitudes, behavioural controls, and social influence also significantly explain the variability in cycling or walking as measured by the app.


Manca, Francesco, Daina, Nicolò ORCID logoORCID:, Sivakumar, Aruna, Xin Yi, Jayne Wee, Zavistas, Konstantinos, Gemini, Giuliana, Vegetti, Irene, Dargan, Liam and Marchet, Francesco;