Prato Urban Jungle (PUJ), a project launched by the city of Prato, under the Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) programme, will renovate the districts of Prato by developing areas with a high density of green - the so-called urban jungles. Other than that, PUJ aims to increase social inclusion and promote widespread sustainable development of the urban environment. In this framework, Prato has integrated an ad-hoc section on greenApes, a digital platform that aims to change the lifestyle of those who use it, through gratification, or rather by attributing real or symbolic rewards to those who behave sustainably.
greeApes, a digital platform for sustainability engagement
In 2018, the Municipality of Prato adopted a new masterplan that rules out the guidelines of use of the territory of the entire municipality on the types of intervention on an existing building, from renovation to expansion, or on the land use, if agricultural or building. Among the themes tackled by the masterplan, the environmental one finds its expression in the urban forestry strategy where the analysis of urban green benefits by PNAT, whilst the Forestry Action Plan is supported by Boeri Architects. As part of this strategy, the Prato Urban Jungle (PUJ) project aims to renovate the districts of Prato in a sustainable and socially inclusive way by developing urban jungles, through redesigned areas with a high density of greenery, immersed in the urban structure, which multiply the natural capacity of plants to breakdown pollutants, restore the use of soil and space in the community and transform marginal and decaying areas into active green hubs within the city. These redesigned areas not only will contribute to improve the quality of the air, but also will activate precious social, cultural and economic dynamics.
In this regard, through the greenApes digital platform, citizens will learn about the importance of Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) to tackle urban challenges and adopt more sustainable behaviours and lifestyles. Virtuous behaviour will be supported via gamification and real-life rewards by local producers (e.g. organic producers, local stores, sustainable brands and providers). Citizens will earn points by inspiring the community through their green actions (also by connecting with the digital app). These so called BankoNut points will let them get rewards and discounts by commercial partners, who can thereby enhance their visibility through loyalty schemes. The city will benefit of this incentive-based citizen-engagement scheme that will support other activities of the project.
In Prato, the greenApes app was launched at the end of May 2021. Currently the app has 677 subscribers that carried out 14.000 actions around sustainable mobility, being the largest portion of actions also because these are automatically registered by the app. A number of 108 awards were distributed by 20-30 stakeholders from the territory. There have been 1.644 good practices shared, such as recipes or actions, and 14.600 claps, similar to likes in other social media.
Citizens can become part of the community in three simple steps:
download the greenApes app on their phone and select Prato as the province of residence;
record their virtuous behaviours with the app (walking and cycling, buying km 0 products, volunteering, etc.) and take part in the "Challenges";
acquire BankoNut points, the virtual currency of the platform, which can be spent in the "Rewards" section of the app, where many local businesses provide discounts, gifts and experiences, thus contributing to a sustainable future for the city.
Good shared citizenship practices, such as a seasonal recipe, ate a vegetarian meal, used public transport or car sharing, biked or walked to a certain location, recycled, repaired or upcycled, purchased a second-hand or eco-labelled products, become opportunities to access both the cultural services of the city and to receive discounts in various shops.
The opportunity launched by the Municipality not only helps to educate citizens to respect the environment and the city itself but also generates a good circular economy. Somehow overcome the distancing of citizens from nearby businesses.
Many the shopkeepers and local businesses, from different productive branches, that have already joined the community, among others: Rifolab, Antico Feudo, La Bottega degli Artigiani and Puro Cashmere from the textile industry, Molino Bardazzi from the agricultural sector, Agraria Pratese from the gardening sector and the local brewery Birrificio I Due Mastri.
In addition, the Municipality of Prato, after joining many productive activities to the greenApes app, actively contributed towards the creation of synergies between the cultural realities and events that animate Prato. Therefore, by attending cultural events and places, citizens can accumulate BankoNut points that can be spent on cultural rewards, such as tickets for concerts, shows and museum admissions.
Currently, the cultural entities engaged are more than 20, including art museums, textile museum, cultural centres and movie theatre and theatre. Among others Pretorio Prato, Museo del Tessuto, Centro Pecci, Officina Giovani, Politeama Pratese and Teatro Metastasio.
greenApes is a digital platform rewarding sustainable actions and ideas. Cities can choose the behaviours they would like to reward (green mobility, waste sorting, energy savings, participation and volunteering). By doing so and sharing their action, citizens’ will get prizes and at the same time inspire others.
The introduction of digital and mobile technologies has profoundly changed every-day life, transforming the way people communicate and interact with one another, but also the way of consuming or producing services and experiencing places. In this regard, gamification practices gained popularity. Precisely, gamification concerns the mobilisation and implementation of ludic elements in order to manage “real” issues and affect human behaviour.
Technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, additive manufacturing or 3D-printing, artificial intelligence, or the Internet of Things, has entered the public discourse in many countries. It is increasingly clear that digital changes, known as “Digital Revolution”, are becoming a key driving force in societal transformation. The transformation towards sustainability for all must be harmonized with the threats, opportunities and dynamics of the Digital Revolution. Digitalization is not only an “instrument” to resolve sustainability challenges, it is also fundamental as a driver of disruptive change.