The course Cyber Crime Science had a final project where we had to identify a local crime and find a technical solution for it. We chose to tackle the crime of littering in the student association room.
To encourage throwing away trash we devised a system where the occupants of the room were given a choice between two trash cans, a red one and a blue one. A screen nearby informed the occupants of the current topic being voted on. This topic was always chosen to be popular and controversial, such as ‘PC vs Mac’ ‘Cola vs Pepsi’.
The trashcans were equipped with a distance sensor in the opening, thus detecting pieces of trash. Results were shown on the screen. We hypothesized that by giving people the means to express their opinion the trashcans were more actively used.
The experiment design involved asking groups of two people to solve a puzzle while handed a drink and a plastic wrapped snack. After they solved the puzzle we asked them to wait until they finished their drinks and snacks. Then they were notified of the trash can system by a sound byte. Their disposing behavior was recorded and afterwards a questionnaire was given.
We observed different littering behavior and more trash can usage in the intervention group that were exposed to the trash can system, in contrast to the control group that was not.
More detailed information available in the presentation slides.