Incorporating persuasion into a decision support system: The case of the water user classification function

Utility stakeholders often view autonomic feedback systems as valuable tools for moderating consumption of household resources (e.g. electricity). However, to be successful, such technology must be not only informative but also persuasive. This paper presents the water user classification (WUC) function of a decision support system (DSS) for residential water consumers. This function has been designed to harness personal value systems and wider social norms in order to promote water conservation. It uses data on home appliance efficiency, routine water usage and environmental values to attribute DSS users with a water user identity. Where the attributed identity is at odds with a self-defined 'green' identity, users may be prompted to reevaluate their everyday practices. The function also offers 'smart' personalized water saving advice. In these ways, it aims to encourage consumers to adopt sustainable water saving behaviors. This paper describes the design of the WUC function and its contribution to the DSS. It additionally highlights the crucial role of behavior change theory in the delivery of successful technology-based interventions.