HotCity - Gamification as a possibility to generate data for energy-oriented neighbourhood planning

The aim of the project was a functional test to determine whether an up-to-date data set of energy-oriented data can be collected for neighbourhood planning through gamification, cost-efficiently, quickly and reliably. This had been determined using the example of the potential determination of industrial and commercial waste heat sources in Vienna and Graz.

Short Description



Initial situation, problems and motivation

The energy system of the future will consist of many different decentralised units. For a development of urban districts with high energy efficiency and increased use of locally available and sustainable energy sources, a detailed spatial identification of possible energy potentials is necessary for cost-efficient and future-proof planning. In particular, waste heat from industry (foundries, food production ...) and commerce (data centres, supermarkets ...) can make an important contribution to the provision of heat in Positive Energy districts. Many larger cities already have a data set that can be used to identify waste heat sources, e.g., Open Government Data, but it is usually not up-to-date or sufficiently (spatially) detailed. Due to the often chosen top-down methodology of the waste heat potential survey on the largest pollutant emitters, many smaller waste heat sources or data centres are not recorded and therefore do not appear in these databases.

Objectives, innovation content and methods

In this project, gamification was used as a method to collect data for energy-oriented neighbourhood planning. Gamification offers the possibility of generating targeted incentive systems for data collection (crowdsourcing/crowd-collecting). Games such as "Pokémon Go" have shown the unexpected dynamics that can arise from this. Using the example of identifying and locating sources of waste heat for Vienna and Graz, we investigated whether and with what effort relevant data can be obtained via gamification, e.g., by photographing chimneys and recooling systems, but also by researching of the game participants on the internet, on-site surveys, or from Google Maps, etc. The results of this research were used to identify waste heat sources. Using innovative approaches from Artificial Intelligence (AI) research, a spatially detailed potential assessment was made possible. Through the use of block chain technology, research was conducted into whether, on the one hand, user data can be registered anonymously and encrypted and, on the other hand, achievements in the game can be stored as a unique performance and also rewarded, which in turn motivates the players and thus leads to more data.

Results and conclusions

  • A "proof of concept" (functional test) if gamification can be used to collect an up-to-date data set in a cost-effective, rapid and reliable way
  • An exploitability analysis of the gamification approach as means of data collection.
  • An investigation of the economic viability of the collected waste heat potentials.
  • An interactive web dashboard for spatially differentiated analyses that stakeholders (e.g., energy planners) can use as an aid for planning Positive Energy districts based on waste heat potentials.
  • Raising awareness for efficient energy use and waste heat potentials or renewable energy sources in general.


In principle, the existing gamification concept can be generalised to other areas of application, such as the search for "heat islands" or suitable areas for PV panels or the degree of renovation of buildings.

The block chain system used was able to store the reward elements in a tamper-proof way and map them transparently by means of a token system. Thanks to the features offered by the energy-efficient block chain solution Ardor, scaling to deployment scenarios with a larger number of users is possible and basically cost-neutral, as several 10,000 assets can be generated without additional effort.

Of particular interest for energy service providers and local authorities is the further development of the HotCity app to collect the status of the thermal quality of the building envelope (e.g., as basic information for spatial energy planning, as data available in the administration is often outdated).

Furthermore, the possibility to detect heat islands in cities or, for example, the opportunity to use the HotCity app to make suggestions for improving the urban climate (e.g., reference to open green spaces for cultivation, roof or façade areas for greening, etc.). The possibility of further developing the HotCity app into a platform for land/building owners to actively offer available spaces for the installation of renewable heat/electricity production systems was also mentioned to the HotCity consortium as an interesting exploitation strategy.

The HotCity app can also be adapted for the next major release of the iOS and Android operating systems with relatively manageable effort. This is more difficult to predict for future releases than for native apps. However, use by a potential client is possible. For long-term use, a new development is recommended that takes into account the circumstance of the long-term software life cycle.

Nevertheless, the current basis can be used to carry out further prototyping or test other use cases. However, an increased effort for updates and in the maintenance or adaptation of modules is to be expected. As mentioned, the app can be adapted for further operating system updates for iOS and Android. The rollout for the app stores and thus simplified access to the app for a larger target group can also be considered.

Project Partners

Project management

AIT Austrian Institute of Technology

Project or cooperation partners

  • picapipe
  • Digitalsunray Media
  • Grazer Energieagentur

Contact Address

Ernst Gebetsroither-Geringer
Gieffinggasse 6
A-1210 Vienna
Tel.: +43 (505) 50-4582
Fax: +43 (505) 50-6613