This is Jim (white beard) from Pointe-Claire, Montreal. He’s just been handed a ticket for good behaviour by Mayor Morris Trudeau (white shirt, former cop, no relation to Justin) in a pioneering project we’re studying as part of our Smart Cities research at Fluxx.
Since May 2015, over 1,000 citizens have been given tickets for good behaviour like “using roads in a safe and respectful manner, stopping at red lights and stop signs, obeying signals, waiting for the crossing lights at busy intersections and neither texting nor talking on a cellphone while driving.”
Citizens are a little confused: “I saw the flashing lights of the police car but I had no idea what was going on,” Scott told the Montreal Gazette. “I wondered why they were approaching me.” The ticket he received has a thumbs up logo, and no monetary or prize value.
This kind of positive reinforcement can seem strange in the context of police enforcement, but is rooted in the most basic behavioural psychology, and is increasingly being used by cities around the world to deal with a range of issues.
Milan: The insurer paying drivers to leave their cars at home
Milan has the worst traffic in Europe and North America. Drivers there spend 57 hours a year in jams. (INRIX data, reported here in the Daily Mail).
To counter this and following a similar approach to Montreal campaign the second largest insurance company in Italy Unipol came up with an interesting solution to the city’s problems. By giving the residents of Milan free public transit vouchers in return for leaving their cars at home.
“The city is using connected car devices made by Octo Telematics, a Rome-based telematics provider, installed behind the dashboards of Unipol customers’ vehicles, to transmit location data and ensure that cars remain parked on the driveway.” (FT).
This is the little box of traffic magic from Octo, called Unibox
Unipol policyholders receive a credit of €1,50 — the cost of one public transportation ticket — for every day their vehicles remain parked during peak hours.
In a lovely connected cities detail, participants can collect their tickets at any ATM ticket machine, in Milan.
Breda, Netherlands: The city rewarding drivers for staying at home
Dealing with traffic issues of their own, the Dutch city of Breda in 2012 launched the initiative ‘Positive Drive’. Instead of an expensive telematics box that needs to be installed in the car, they used a simple smartphone ap.
The Positive Drive app uses nudges (coaching, prizes, social status, achievements, etc) to strengthen the positive behaviours.
“Positive Drive rewards car drivers who respect speed limits with (s)miles. If they cycle instead of driving, they earn more (s)miles. Bonus (s)miles are rewarded when road users choose certain trajectories over others. In this way, the municipality can promote particular cycle routes and locations, and with their ‘smiles’ the participants can win prizes donated by enterprises based Breda” (Eltis).
Dubai: White Points to reduce deaths in traffic
Back in 2013 the city of Dubai together with its police department launched a project called the ‘White Point’ system. Where participants can earn points by following traffic laws and avoid getting fines and tickets.
It was launched by Maj Gen Mohammed Al Zafeen, head of the Federal Traffic Council and assistant to the Dubai Police chief in operational affairs as an experiment that hopefully could help reducing the amount of deaths in traffic, but also encourage positive driving.
“We started in 2013 by honouring 700 motorists, and now in 2016 we’ll be honouring more than double that amount. The system is still being developed, and we believe the more we reward people for good behaviour, the more positive the effect will be.” Maj Gen Al Zafeen (The National)
The participants can then earn a maximum of 24 points in one year. In case of a traffic violation, motorists can lose a month’s points and if involved in a huge violation, may lose their accumulated white points. These violations also include traffic fines such as ‘Salik’ (tolls) and parking fines. The system also allows drivers to recover points lost on their licences by driving without any infringement over a period of time.
When I close my eyes, I hear them scream. I see them running, trying to save their lives. I can also see the 10 children who stood no chance and died.
The terrorism in France scared me. But not just that, it breaks my heart. The 22 of July Anders Behring breivik shot and killed innocent teenagers on Utøya. The tradgey is that there is no time to heal the traumas, since another act of terror triggers all who’s lost somebody to terrorist-attacks again. I can not imagine what the ones left behind must be feeling right now. But I can cry. Even if it doesn’t help them, I know the support the families and friends needs, will be provided. Because in even the most horrific situations, there will always be people ready to do all they can to support and help those left behind.
In Norway we tried so hard to not show hate, but love. We wanted to be strong together, and knew that the only thing we could do is to counterattack by the weapons we had available: Our empathy and love. After the terrorism in Norway, we started to volunteer more. We wanted to do something, we NEEDED to do something. To find meaning in the meaningless. And I do hope many in France will do the same. Because terrorism doesn’t occur in a vacuum. There is a reason that extremist become who they are. France is a hard country to live in for many refugees. They are lonely and desperate and easy targets for ISIS. So they find comfort in what they feel are the only alternative: A group that brainwashes them and provide companionship. Even if it’s hard for me, and others, to accept that people can do evil things, we must not sink to their level. Fear is dangerous and polarize society even more. We can’t think that the solution is to send all refugees home. We must work together to find solutions that bind people together.
Luckily, Norway has been blessed. We have a system that tries to integrate refugees into the society. We try to do something about problems before lonely and angry people goes to the step where violence feels like the only option. We are also blessed with millions who are able to respond with love in the worst circumstance. Because we truly do our best to take care of everyone. There are not many murders in Norway, compared to many other countries, but we do fail to prevent many tragedies too. We have no ‘perfect solution’ that will wipe away all the problems we have. But we try our best.
But before we can start solving our problems we must take time to grieve. Grieve over the ones who lost everything they had. The ones who will never see smile on their children`s face and hold them tight. Only then can we start to make changes, to make the world a better place. Because, even if there has been over 200 terrorist attacks the last year, there could have been more. we don’t need to go far back in time to see this: The Holcost killed so many that it’s unfathomableb. My wish is that we can answer the hate by not hating the people who don’t terrorize others, refugees and citizents who come to us in need. Because most of them mean no harm. At the same time we must protect ourselves, but I honestly believe that the best way to protect is to collaborate and find new solution that bring us closer together.
How do we decide between giving people a chance and not trusting them? In Norway, Anders Behring Breivik shot and killed innocent people on Utøya. The cruelty of it all, shocked us. Norway used to be safe. Suddenly everything was turned upside down. Today my room-mate asked me: Should Anders Behring Breivik be released from prison after he`s done his time? An ethical dilemma that raises a lot of questions with no clear-cut answers. I won`t even try to answer this question, because I am not sure. My attitudes normally veers towards giving people second chances, but I also know that some people never change. Would it potentially harm more people if he was released? Could he do the same thing again?
This is a dilemma that engages all Norwegians. When the “Utøya” massacre happened, we stood together. We showed that we would not react with hate or fear. Even the families of those who died, tried to suppress their hatred and focused on getting through it all. The way we Norwegians reacted was talked about in the media all over the world. How could be talk about love after such a tragedy? Where was our blood-lust, or need for revenge? Off course, it was there. But something else was more important: To show that no matter what, we stand together.
But what happened to us, happens all over the world today. Unfathomable acts of violence happens every day. Refugees flee for their life, and tyrannic leaders kill thousands without guilt. What would be the right thing to do in these cases ? Could we forgive the ones who have so much blood on their hands that it never can be washed off? What about child-soldiers, and what about rapists and torturists? Here too, it is hard for me to say what would be the right way to react. Don`t we foster more hatred, mor war, more blood-lust by doing to them what they do to us? The balancing act of giving people another chance, and punishing them for life, is a tough one. But in my heart and mind I must believe that we don`t accomplish anything by being cruel. This doesn`t mean not to take action, but I do believe that we should consider more options than putting criminals in prison for life or executing them. Because there might be some potential for change, and as I see it, where there is potential there is hope. And if we don`t start to do things differently, the balance might just tip us all over the edge.
An anchor woman holds her microphone steady as she reports live from ‘We have the power’ , an old mental institution where the walls should have been painted decades ago. Her voice intermingle with twenty other reporters looking seriously into the camera, pointing occasionally to the building behind them. The anchor woman turns her voice dramatically down when she arrives at the conclusion.
“Sources tell us that in this mental institution, often just keep patients long enough to give them medication before they send them back. They sometimes don’t arrive at the right diagnose, and it is rumored that they don’t take enough time with traumatized victims or that they even consciously decide not to talk about what they have experienced. Only 30% report that they felt better or had hope for the future after being released, and surveys show that staggering 20 % of the patients will be readmitted after not receiving the help they wanted”
Her face is now full of rage. Her mother killed herself after being hospitalized in a mental health clinic. When she had read through her mother’s journal she saw how many pills she was on, barbiturates strong enough to knock out a mammoth. When she tried to find therapy notes where her mother could process her traumatic past, she only found short conversations where the doctors wanted to know if she slept well, eat what she should or if she felt a bit better after taking another pill. She shouldn’t even be reporting, but she manages to do her job, t is important for her to get it all out there.
Another reporter talks with the direction, who promises that they will do everything to make this right. They will look into their routines and see what they can do to make sure this will never happen again.
The news report goes viral. Oprah dedicate her next show to the cause, and Internet users on Twitter have started protest demonstrations, venturing into the street with their fists pumping in the air as they chant: ‘Stop this, stop this, stop this’. They bring posters where with personal accounts: ‘My mother only got three days in the institution, when her depression intensified they said they have done everything they could so she was not prioritized. Take mental health seriously!” Some write messages to the government. ‘We want that our tax payers money go to mental health care for the 450 billions who needs better treatment” or “Why only research on drugs?”. The protesters don’t make to much of a fuss. They don’t shout out obscenities, but they gather in every city, staying put and showing their support. They have started a peaceul war.
Why don’t we see this in the real world? Where is the public outcry over the state of unsatisfactory mental health care? When someone breaks a leg, we demand full treatment until the injury is fully treated. We never take off the bandage after three weeks instead of six, telling our patient that they can come back if the leg breaks again as it will because it simply was not healed. We protest when the plumber does a bad job, demanding to sue them if they don’t come back and fix it. When politicians have done something wrong, news papers write about it for days, as they do when an actress have broken down and been sent to rehab. But where are the headlines after it thousands of citizens have been ignored by the health care system? Where are the depth interviews with families who’ve seen their loved ones break down after unsuccessful treatment?
In my future news scenario, the media would focus on mental health daily. They would write nuanced articles on every subject relating to how we suffer and what our options are when we do. There would be demonstrations to so that we get what we need.
We would all be small Ghandies, damanding justice. We wouldn’t close our eyes, we would engage and try to change things. The media would not ignore us.
In my future utopia, the mental institution ‘We have the power’ would change their ways. They would give the power back to their patients, not giving up before they had tailor made the treatment that was right for them. They would listen to them and find their resources.
They would use money on educating their employees, giving their patient the very best care. We do it with cancer patients, we even do it at Starbucks to make sure that the customers are a hundred percent satisfied with their coffees. I dream about a world where surveys about how satisfied their patient are with their treatment. Why shouldn’t we give mental health all of our attention? When almost a fourth of us have psychological issues, stigma should be lifted by never ignoring our troubled minds.
We should not be afraid to speak up.
We have all been there: We just want to give up. The effort feels too great, the will to small. Some minutes ago, I found an encouraging article about persuasion. What I really liked about it, was the paragraph about persistence. Persistence is our strongest weapon, and we all need to remind ourselves of that every now and again.
The person who is willing to keep asking for what they want, and keeps demonstrating value, is ultimately the most persuasive. The way that so many historical figures have ultimately persuaded masses of people is by staying persistent in their endeavors and message. Consider Abraham Lincoln, who lost his mother, three sons, a sister, his girlfriend, failed in business and lost eight separate elections before he was elected president of the United States.
Some people put chains on others. They play judges or police like they did when they were kids. They love the sound of shackles on the prisoners feet. It symbolizes their power and inflate their ego’s. These are the humans we see in the public when they throw a tantrum. It’s the men and women who grew up with a dark omnipotence. Some were protected too much. How do children react if they get no boundaries?