Policy Note: Digital Feedback-based Interventions for Water Conservation

Progress in water conservation is dependent as much on human behavior as on the promise of new technologies. Digital feedback-based interventions present an opportunity to bring these two factors together, as increasingly sophisticated technologies can help change behaviors rather than simply solving problems caused by those behaviors. This paper explores the various options and opportunities for adopting feedback-based interventions — those that communicate information for the purpose of encouraging individuals to alter water consumption habits. Lessons proposed are applicable to any realm in which individual human behavior contributes to a collective environmental or social problem. Focusing on five determinants of success (design, delivery, content, integration, and commitment), this paper presents findings of related studies and fashions them into a suite of recommendations that serves as a template for practice and agenda for future research. The underlying theme — that technology is no absolute substitute for behavioral change but can be one catalyst for it — contributes to broader discussions about the relationship between human systems and the environment.

By Kris Hartley, Nicole Sher Wen Lim and Cecilia Tortajada, 2021, Policy Note: Digital Feedback-based Interventions for Water Conservation, Water Economics and Policy. DOI: 10.1142/S2382624X20710046

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