Nudging contributions in crowdsourced public transport technologies
24 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2021
Date Written: March 1, 2021
Transport data is crucial for transport planning and operations. Collecting high-quality data has long been challenging due to the difficulty of achieving adequate spatiotemporal coverage within a representative sample. The increasingly integrated use of communications technology in transport systems offers an opportunity to collect data using non-traditional methods. Crowdsourcing applications are an example. Users share information about their travel experience, informing planners and operators about the perceived quality of service. However, crowdsourcing applications depend on a critical mass of users providing feedback. We examine the use of economic incentives (a lottery for free trips) and prosocial messages (asking users to help the community) as nudges to encourage users to share reports about bus stop conditions using a crowdsourcing app in order to increase coverage of the bus stop network. We conducted a large-scale field experiment in which users received push notifications. We found that offering an economic incentive increased the participation rate almost three times compared to a control group, which did not receive any message. This positive effect lasted for several weeks but decreased over time, especially for users who had not made reports prior to the experiment. This incentive also increased the amount of reports shared by users as well as the spatial coverage of bus stops. Using a prosocial message, with or without the economic incentive, also increased the participation rate compared to the control group, but adding a prosocial message decreased the effect of a standalone economic incentive.
Keywords: Crowdsourcing app, Public transport, Transport data, Field experiment, Nudge
JEL Classification: R40
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