Powerzee: Saving the Environment With Gamification

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The initial NP trial with the School of Interdisciplinary Studies has seen 185 accounts created and registered on the application, with most users being Ngee Ann Polytechnic students. | Photo by Poh Li Ying

Ngee Ann Polytechnic students and staff play their part in saving the environment with new mobile application

By Poh Li Ying

A one-month pilot for Powerzee to promote environmental sustainability to students through a mobile game commenced on Jun 27 in Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

A product of French utility firm Engie, Powerzee was first introduced in National Technological University (NTU) in 2015. The phone application was modified and the latest version was tested in NTU again earlier this year with NP joining in in late June.

The project to launch Powerzee on campus is helmed by four faculties: School of Interdisciplinary Studies, School of Life Sciences and Chemical Technology, School of Design & Environment, and Estate Management.

“[Engie is] trying to get institutions around the world to take it on so that you can guardian your campus,” says Ms Evelyn Ng, chairperson of NP’s Powerzee committee.

“For us, to the end of our days, the world might not have changed so much, it will just grow a bit hotter. But for your children’s children, we’ve got to do something.”

She adds: “There’s a lot we can do, the campus is far from being sustainable.”

From switching off the lights in an empty room to taking the stairs instead of the lift, one can declare and commit to do various ‘eco-actions’ in order to earn points. Committing to acts with greater environmental impact earns a student or staff more points.

Starting off with a customisable seed, the application has a leader board feature named EcoChampion wherein a tree will slowly develop as players earn more points.

“The app tries to encourage good behaviour, in this case environmental awareness and environmentally conscious actions through a game process,” says Ms Ng. “You have fun, but at the same time you are learning [about the environment].”

The application also gives players the option to work as a team to earn points. Points earned individually are accumulated as team points.

“You are part of the team and therefore it’s fun, it’s exciting,” says Ms Lynn Lee, a senior lecturer of School of Interdisciplinary Studies and part of the Powerzee committee. “The teams compete and this psychology is a very strong motivator [whether it’s for] a social cause or charity.”

In May, NP students taking modules such as Introduction to Social Psychology and Gamification under the School of Interdisciplinary Studies were given the opportunity to participate in a trial for Powerzee.

Miss Nur Fatin Bte Mohammed Shafik, 18, says: “I like to see the tree grow, it’s satisfying and it makes me feel like I’m doing something [for the environment].”

However, students who have tested the application have also shared that there is room for improvement.

Mr Jeremy Ng, 22, says: “I feel like they can add a function to know you actually commit, because if you press commit, you can don’t do it.”

He adds that a photo proof feature can be implemented in order to ensure users are committing to the ‘Eco-actions’ before obtaining points.

Powerzee is available on both Google Play and App Store. The Powerzee committee aims to accumulate between 500 and 800 downloads across the campus within this one-month period.

During the trial period, the top five scoring staff and students on the application each week will also be awarded $5 Co-op vouchers. There are 40 vouchers to be won.

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