Smarter Grid through Collective Intelligence: User Awareness for Enhanced Performance

Marcel Macarulla, Michele Albano


Purpose – This paper examines the scenario of a university campus, and the impact on energy consumption of the awareness of building managers and users (lecturers, students and administrative staff).
Design/methodology/approach – This study draws a comparison between direct fruition of the information by both skilled (building managers) and unskilled (users) recipients, and the effect of peer pressure and beneficial competition between users in applying the good practices. In fact, the usage of edutainment, implemented by the automatic publication on the Twitter platform of energy consumption data from different users, can promote general users’ awareness on best practices and their effect on energy consumption. In addition, the use of a social network platform allows the interaction between users, sharing experiences and increasing the collective intelligence in the energy efficiency field.
Findings – Tests revealed that enhanced awareness helped managers to identify strategies that, if implemented in the whole building, could reduce energy consumption by about 6%. The tests on university users’ awareness hint that the expected energy savings can reach 9%, in addition to the previous 6%. In fact, the measures were implemented in one of the three common rooms, and at building level the total energy consumption decreased by 3.42%, proving that a large deal of energy can be saved by capillary actions targeting society at large. The emerging collective intelligence of the final users ends up having a stronger effect on energy saving than the actions of more educated professionals.
Practical implications – The approach used in this paper moved the burden of evolving the energy saving strategies to new scenarios onto the collective intelligence of the users, by connecting the users – and their experiences in new scenarios – using a social network to provide guidelines to other users involved in the same decision processes.
Originality/Value – The authors of the paper use social technologies (Twitter, graphical interfaces) for a social goal (promote user awareness on energy usage) for the benefit of the society (energy savings).
Research type – research paper.


EMS; Key Performance Indicators; Energy efficiency

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"Social Technologies" ISSN online 2029-7564