In this post I explain the three basic gamification errors many councils are making on their coronavirus stats pages:
- Sharing dashboards designed for public health officials with ordinary citizens
- Focusing attention on lag indicators rather than lead indicators
- Making negative outcomes look positive
As we know from my book, as soon as you share metrics and expect behaviour change as a result of that share, you are using gamification, whether you realise it or not.
"...as soon as you share metrics and expect behaviour change as a result of that share, you are using gamification, whether you realise it or not."
Let's now look at these three errors as demonstrated on current coronavirus stats pages and identify them. This is not intended to shame any council in any way. I recognise they are dealing with a lot right now! The purpose here is to help us properly understand the problem and, by so doing, each council can find the right local solution.
Sharing dashboards designed for public health officials with ordinary citizens
Derbyshire council (above) are showing the "surveillance report" - (surveillance is clearly a management term with lots of negative connotations for those being surveilled) - and sharing it with ordinary citizens.
The problems with this for a citizen reading it are:
- It is management focused - e.g. breaking down cases by Pillar is simply irrelevant, there are too many charts and data points
- It is not personalised - e.g. it shows all ages rather than just me.
- It is not actionable - what should I do personally as a result of this information? It is not clear at all
- There is no emotionally engaging narrative - beyond an appealing to take "appropriate precautions"
Focusing attention on lag indicators rather than lead indicators
In this example we can see Buckinghamshire doing a bit better in sharing their stats. Here they are breaking down stats by local area and showing change over time, this helps make them more relevant.
However the metrics being used are all "after the fact" - they are "lag" indicators. It's like being presented with a fait accompli - there's not much you can do about it now.
Instead it would be better to show "lead" indicators - metrics that correspond to the desired behaviours that influence the lag results. Here then would be metrics that citizens could seek to take action on - test and trace compliance, mask wearing for example.
Making negative outcomes look positive
Kent have simplified the dashboard and focused on a single metric that they want to see change. With the addition of a spiky coronavirus image they are clearly thinking about this dashboard for individual citizens and seeking to engage emotionally.
However, we are all conditioned to think bigger numbers are better, "the only way is up", more goals, more money, higher marks and so on.
What Kent (and most other councils) are doing here is making a negative outcome (weekly cases) look like it's a positive thing.
What to do next
So we've uncovered three specific issues. As with all gamification projects there will be many more to come.
It is though, an iterative journey. To get good engagement you need to think with a gamification designers mindset. I've outlined a step by step process for doing this in my book and in my previous post Maintain Social Distancing at scale using Infinite Gamification: for public health officials and politicians.
Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing.