BetterPoints in Bologna: 15,000 users in one month, and counting

Michael Grimes - 02 maja 2017

We’d not even officially launched our new behaviour change programme in the Italian city of Bologna before it hit its six-month target of 10,000 users. The city has a population of around 400,000, so 2.5% of its citizens had signed to the Bella Mossa programme before it even started.

What’s so exciting about a behaviour change programme that so many Italians want a piece of it?

Like many major cities, Bologna struggles to manage traffic congestion and its side effects. A team at SRM, the local transport authority, wants to find ways of reducing the number of motorised vehicles used for journeys such as commuting, visiting the city and travelling to festivals. So they’ve partnered with us for six months to see if incentives will help change people’s behaviour.

‘There are almost 60 cars for 100 inhabitants here in Bologna,’ says Giuseppe Liguori, European Project Manager at SRM. ‘We want to decrease this kind of ownership of cars but also we want to decrease the use of private motorised vehicles.’

In the past, the approach has been to penalise people for using cars, which didn’t always go down too well. The Bella Mossa approach is to use positive incentives instead, and it seems to be working.

Bella Mossa is a six-month campaign. ‘We started on the first of April and we already have more than 15,000 participants,’ says Marco Amadori, Bella Mossa’s project manager. ‘The target was to reach 10,000 participants during the full duration of the campaign, and we have already over-passed this target and people are continuing to join day after day.'

Because Marco and Giuseppe are on the same team that’s behind the European Cycle Challenge, they too know a thing or two about encouraging people to do things. We’ve worked together to implement the major barcode standard EAN13 into the BetterPoints app, to make it really easy for users to spend their points and for retailers to claim them as cash at the point of sale.

This means SRM is able to build partnerships with a fantastic range of retailers, from the major Italian supermarket chain, Conad and the international sports retailer, Decathlon, through local budget chains, bike stores and opticians to independent bookshops, restaurants and bars.

So, by doing a bit more active travel - for example, walking to work instead of sitting in a traffic jam - BetterPoints users in Bologna can accrue points and spend them in shops simply by presenting a barcode on their smartphone.

'A lot of people are talking about this campaign and we are very satisfied with the level of engagement,' says Giuseppe.

‘Also,’ adds Marco, 'from our partner point of view, there is really positive feedback so far.'

‘It is really a big success.'

The Bella Mossa programme in Bologna is funded by the European Empower project, and we’re really excited to see it taking off so well. 


Image of bicycles in Bologna by DaiLuo. Licence: CC-BY-2.0.