The Speed Camera Lottery

I love the Speed Camera Lottery. It’s one of the coolest examples of Gamification out there and it really shows the power of applying game thinking to old problems.

In this case the problem was speeding traffic. As Kevin Richardson, who I met at the Gamification Summit, explains in this youtube video for a competition: “The Speed Camera lottery does two things. Firstly it photographs speeders and gives them a traffic citation (a fine) and that money goes in a pot. But if you are obeying the law, your picture is also snapped and you are entered into a lottery to win some of that money from the speeders”

It’s a brilliant “game” that provides a carrot for obeying the law.  Average speeds during the experiment decreased to 25km/h from a usual 32km/h.

It has its weaknesses though – as any game designer will point out – you can game (or cheat) the system and enter multiple times, simply by driving in a circle. This might be because  the perceived value of the extrinsic reward is too high.  This unintended side effect weakens the chance of wider use (increase in traffic volumes and increase in distraction for drivers creates a safety risk).

How can we reduce the side effects through further gamification?

We could tweak this in practice though. We could use time bounding by only allowing one entry per driver per day.

We could also increase the number of points (input signals) at which the driver has to comply with the speed limit to enter the competition. With multiple speed camera sites – a driver only gets entered if they comply all the time.

In this way, we can reduce the extrinsic reward to a low enough level that the intrinsic reward (getting to your destination) outweighs it (it’s not worth driving in circles just to win the prize), but not so low that it still has enough weight to influence the behavior we want to encourage (not rushing to your destination).

Clearly then the Speed Camera Lottery is a viable tool in the reduction of driving speeds but it needs tweaking (which will only come from analytics) before wider roll out.



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