Can Gamification be Used for Spatial Energy Data Collection? Experiences Gained from the Development of the HotCity Game to Collect Urban Waste Heat Sources

Ernst Gebetsroither-Geringer, Romana Stollnberger, Roman Geyer, Marko Göls, Jakob Worster, Thomas Wernbacher, Alexander Pfeiffer, Ernst Meißner, Angelika Graf

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Availability of reliable data is one of the most important elements for fact-based decisions. Urban planning and spatial energy planning often suffers from a lack of availability of good, validated and up-to-date data sets. Furthermore, integrated spatial and energy planning needs to incorporate new spatially distributed energy sources and understand how these sources can be used in the future to meet climate protection targets. These new energy sources can be, for example, waste heat from industrial food production, local industrial/commercial enterprises, data centers, or urban infrastructure such as tunnels and metro stations. The utilization of such waste heat sources in heating networks has been demonstrated several times, however, their proper identification in an urban environment can be challenging, especially for smaller and unconventional sources (Schmidt, 2020). Gamification as an innovative way to collect the needed data was investigated within a national funded research project called "HotCity". Gamification builds on the use of game mechanics in contexts that are, by nature, unrelated to the game (Deterding, 2011). Within the project the HotCity-App was developed enabling users to spatially report and evaluate different sources of waste heat. The gamification of data collection was also intended to raise awareness of waste heat and energy use on the one hand, and to facilitate the collection of data from small energy sources on the other. For the first time, the game framework is secured using a blockchain and mapped by means of a token system. The HotCity-App was tested in the Austrian cities Vienna and Graz as a proof of concept to analyse if and how the gamification approach can deliver valid results. The HotCity-App, the game, makes it possible to identify and georeference also smaller sources of waste heat in order to use the available energy. Two test runs were each conducted in Graz and Vienna, which provided helpful feedback from the testers regarding promising features as well as showed barriers reducing the success of this data collection approach. An interactive web-application for the data collected with the HotCity-App was further developed to visualize the reported potential waste heat sources and to interactively evaluate the economic feasibility of using the waste heat sources under different frame conditions. The paper will elaborate the game development, discuss the gamification approach and the lessons learned during the proof of concept project. We will further give an outlook of additional data types for integrated urban energy planning, which could be collected by this approach.
TitelREAL CORP 2021, 26th International Conference on Urban Planning and Regional Development in the Information Society GeoMultimedia 2021
Redakteure/-innenManfred Schrenk, Vasily V. Popovich, P. Zeiler, Pietro Elisei, Clemens Beyer, Judith Ryser, G Stöglehner
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2021

Research Field

  • Ehemaliges Research Field - Integrated Digital Urban Planning


  • environmental footprint
  • Food-Water-Energy Nexus
  • sustainable food system
  • sustainable urban development
  • land use


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