Intelen is seeking to overcome the restrictions imposed by many of the efficiency solutions currently available on the market. By correlating human behavioral input with energy consumption, as well as with other building metadata and environmental and sustainability factors, and by analyzing this information using behavioral science models, Intelen has developed a behavioral learning system that can be used by organizations to promote efficiency, raise awareness on environmental and energy efficiency issues, and spread knowledge on related topics. Intelen BiG is an integrated platform designed to provide organizations with the tools to promote and evaluate efficiency initiatives that revolve around people.
The BiG platform is focused on humans rather than buildings. It comprises three layers:
- A dynamic dashboard based on game mechanics theory
- An integrated learning management system
- A mobile app that can act as an information and education gateway, connecting users to the cloud platform
As companies and utilities seek new ways to engage and inform their employees and customers and to better communicate their internal sustainability and CSR strategies to all stakeholders and external supply chains, we hope to help foster a paradigm shift that will build lifelong habits.
In the real world, people inhabit various types of buildings where they live, work and pursue their everyday activities. BiG and its associated InGage app accompany users everywhere they go and provide a number of engagement services and activities, based on the culture of the organization and the specific initiatives adopted by each facility's sustainability officer.
With InGage, users can subscribe to a specific initiative or live training game that is linked to the buildings they visit or inhabit. They receive:
- Multiple-choice quizzes
- Multimedia content
- Tasks to commit to
- Surveys and announcements related to sustainability or other energy efficiency topics
The content InGage offers is adapted both to individual user behaviors and the specific building. Via the BiG admin controls, sustainability managers can manage the content, users, competing teams, competition rules and prizes.
Another feature allows users to push valuable information to the platform. Users can report building faults (including pictures) such as thermal discomfort, lighting/mechanical problems, and HVAC problems. For each interaction, users accrue points that help them earn badges, in keeping with gamification principles.
Users can also see how colleagues are performing via live newsfeeds and status updates. For example, a user can see that another user just scored 87% on the recycling quiz and can choose to challenge that user to a rematch.
On the back end, a very powerful analytics engine analyzes all interactions. By combining demographics, social profiles, energy data and BiG’s real-time metrics, it produces useful behavioral reports and highlights emerging trends. A number of key engagement metrics are calculated in real time, including categories such as Engagement, Knowledge, Influence, Efficiency, and Commitment.
BiG’s behavioral analytics focus on how users behave and, more importantly, why they behave they way they do. In order to provide these analytics and use them to gain behavioral insights and knowledge, four key data sources are needed. To shape any user’s behavior in any app, their demographic and behavioral data is required. However, BiG takes this analysis one step further and merges psychographics with energy data. Basic questions to be answered are:
- Do users follow a particular pattern in the app? If so, why?
- How do they tend to interact and behave?
- How are savings achieved by their actions?
- What is the impact of their behavior on energy consumption?
In other words, the data tells us not only what is happening, but also how and why it is happening.
“We are creating a brand-new approach to continuous human engagement, and we want to change the way people understand engagement,” according to Vassilis Nikolopoulos, Intelen’s CEO and co-founder. “We focus not on buildings, but on the humans who are inside these buildings. I'm often asked where we focus our engagement services: on home consumers or on corporate clients. The answer is both. The same people who work in corporate buildings also live in houses and apartments. We know how to engage and influence humans in their corporate environment and how to continue this engagement in their homes.”
The initial version of BiG was piloted at a number of corporate and university facilities, and the trials yielded some impressive results.
- In early 2014, Azusa Pacific University conducted a pilot in which APU Sustainability Club members competed against students enrolled in a sustainability class. Toney Snyder, Assistant Director of Environmental Stewardship at the university, said, "Our students who are actively studying sustainability reported how surprised they were to discover how much they didn’t know about sustainability.”
- After a pilot conducted at Wayne State University, Sustainability Coordinator Daryl Pierson reported that “the InGage app helped our campus community learn more sustainable behaviors," describing the experience as a "fun learning activity."
- Tania Taff of Michigan Technological University said that she “found the InGage interface to be extremely intuitive from an administrator’s point of view. Very little coaching was needed to understand how to input material using the BiG admin dashboard. The pilot went very smoothly, from the back-end preparation of material to the end-user experience."
More than twenty universities have already conducted BiG pilots. Beginning in September, existing and new deployments in the educational and corporate sectors will be scaled up, using the extensively upgraded second version of the platform. Additional deployments are planned at the Harvard Business School and Summa Energy Solutions.
Figure 1: BiG Dashboard
Figure 2: Web User Interface