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 Yi, Jayne Wee Xin and Zavistas, Konstantinos and Gemini, Giuliana and Vegetti, Irene and Dargan, Liam and Marchet, Francesco (2022) Using digital social market applications to incentivise active travel : empirical analysis of a smart city initiative. Sustainable Cities and Society, 77. 103595. ISSN 2210-6707 (

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Information and communication technologies (ICTs), such as mobile communication networks, and behaviour-based approaches for citizen engagement play a key role in making future cities sustainable and tackling persistent problems in high-density urban areas. In the context of Sharing Cities, an EU-funded programme aiming to deliver smart city solutions in areas such as citizen participation and infrastructure improvements of buildings and mobility, a prominent intervention has been the deployment and monitoring of a Digital Social Market (DSM) tool in Milan (Italy). The DSM allows cities to 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 participant 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-travel events) is positively correlated with the monitored level of active travel. Lifestyles, attitudes, and social influence also explain the variability in cycling and walking. This highlights the importance of investigating these factors when replicating such initiatives on a large scale.