AUX, a product design studio based in Cape Town, has taken innovative steps towards easing the water crisis for Capetonians in recent months. They built and released the TapOff app, a free mobile app that not only provides Capetonians with real-time updates on the city’s water consumption, but helps them to make positive changes that will have a lasting impact.
In March 2017 AUX studio conceptualized and built the TapOff app as an experiment to inspire people of Cape Town to save water. While Cape Town’s ongoing drought stress will be heaved in the oncoming winter month’s rain, it is not certain whether it will be enough to make a real impact. Kevin Winter‚ a University of Cape Town researcher, who has been a leading expert voice during the water crisis, said the water crisis had made more Cape Town residents aware of their water resources. However, the amount of water available will decrease over the long term. This means residents must permanently change their water-saving behavior.
“Information alone doesn’t drive behavioural change,” says Trevor Swart of AUX. “The key is to summarise and frame it in a way that’s meaningful for the individual.” Besides displaying the city’s overall consumption for the week, TapOff enables residents to log their own water usage and compare it with the maximum amount prescribed by city authorities. In this way, individuals see how their efforts can make a real difference to a community-wide issue.
The app goes even further to encourage participation, gamifying water-saving with suburb leader boards where residents can display their consumption figures. “The response has been great so far,” says Trevor, “with growing numbers of users posting their water usage to neighbourhood leader boards on a monthly basis.” An update was released so that users’ per-person-per-day calculation is more visible and people can also navigate to their suburb. All users are created anonymously using a unique and creative naming system.
The app has been featured on Memeburn.com and has also been highlighted in both the Google PlayStore and the AppStore as a top app in the Free Education category.
This article originally appeared on https://www.pressportal.co.za and has been repurposed for academic purposes.