FORUM VIRIUM: CARBON EGO APP – Insight, digital and service design

Encouraging smart choices

The business target

How could we help people make carbon neutral choices?

Climate change is the hot topic of public debate: how can we change our lifestyle to mitigate the factors of global warming. Forum Virium, an innovation unit within the city of Helsinki, hoped to discover solutions for the EU’s mySMARTLife Project. The subject matter was already well-documented, but a unique approach was needed to develop a user-driven concept focused on providing actionable solutions and practical tips that would prove invaluable in combating the challenge. They chose Kuudes to develop the concept for an app that would drive the change in attitudes.

Do we really have something new to offer?

We began the work with our development partner, Lucky Few, by asking: could a digital service help us achieve these goals and if so, what kind of service should it be? There’s already a plethora of feasible and well-known carbon neutrality apps, services and campaigns. To create something fundamentally novel, we really needed to dig deep.

To define potential user segments and opportunities, we utilised the Kuudes Informed Consumer tool. By interviewing experts in the field, organising both external and internal workshops, conducting questionnaires for the public and testing the concept with potential users, we managed to discover more specific needs.

Key insights

#1 Information should be linked to everyday life

Many services provide general information about carbon neutrality but personal data is hard to reach.

#2 The abstract should be made tangible

‘Good’ choices are not always visible in your everyday life, and it’s hard to see how they influence the big picture

#3 Good choices need to be the easiest ones

Many consumption decisions are guided by routines and habits that are not actively reflected upon.

#4 Understand what really motivates the consumer

People are motivated by different matters – carbon neutrality is merely one of them. How can it be linked to other values?

The increase of information around climate change creates more anxiety than relief, we need an app that is empowering and uplifting.

An app that is supportive and solution-oriented

Instead of pointing fingers, our Carbon Ego app encourages the consumer to adopt a climate-friendly lifestyle with a positive and solution-oriented angle. By visualising data, the app gives an understandable overview of how moving, living, eating and consumption habits produce carbon emissions. The app assists users in improving their daily behaviour by giving tangible, straightforward tips and invitations to challenges. The Carbon Ego character communicates with the user, making the topic more approachable and fun.

In the future vision, the functionalities are built on real-time data and automation. This requires organisations to share their data with the general public. The ‘minimum viable product’ version of the app aims to lower this threshold; it offers organisations an example of creating common good by opening up data sources. Presently, the MVP version is being built and it will be tested with potential users in the near future.

“While the level of ambition was raised high, we knew that we’d need help with the service design that shares the ambition and were lucky to have Kuudes involved with the project. The project clearly needed the deep understanding of consumer and the tools to learn more, and the outcome is more than we expected. We can’t wait to show this app to the public!”

Timo Ruohomäki
Forum Virium Helsinki

For more information:

Jari Danielsson