Vitens Waterbattle version 2 live!

March 6th the Waterbattle started in the city of Leeuwarden. 7 primary schools, 15 classes, more than 350 students and 112 households are participating and try to change their water usage to win. All participant are super enthusiastic, but whether this game leads to a change in water consumption has yet to be proven.    


Vitens hopes to achieve behavioural change with this “new communication form”, says project manager Micha van Aken: “We can work very hard as a company, but the biggest impact on reducing energy costs and our CO2 emissions is provided by our customers. The more people use less water at peak times, the better for the energy consumption of our production proces. ”

The first pilot called “Wijk & Waterbattle” was executed in 2015. It delivered many insights. Improvements from the first pilot have been incorporated into an enhanced version called “Waterbattle”. In particular, the technical issues have now been adapted. The water consumption is read remotely (completely wireless). Last winter the smart water meters have been placed. “A great job,” says Frits Hulsteijn (teammanager distribution): “It’s a new technique, where our engineers are very excited about. The participants are also very excited about it and often want to know more about the technique when our engineer is installing the smart water meter at their homes.”

The app for the parents is completely changed. The use of the app is less intensive and more intuitive. Logging in for both game and app is greatly simplified. Finally, more data is collected from the participants regarding water consumption. Not only during the Waterbattle but also a few weeks before and after.

The concept is also slightly changed. Main goal is still creating behavioural change in sustainable water consumption in a fun way. Combining a game for children and an app for parents with a smart water meter empowers households to share their water usage better throughout the day. The desired change in water consumption during peak times at home is rewarded with points, so new levels are released into the game. Parents and children must therefore work together and stay sharp.

The “Waterbattle” focuses more explicitly on parents and children. The previous pilot focused on a battle between two schools and neighbourhoods. Now there are 7 schools and more than 350 children. Unlike last time, the game is no longer played at school, but at home. No neighbourhood residents, but only parents are invited to use the app. Because of the direct interaction between parents and children, better results are expected. The schools still play a role in the educational component of the Waterbattle.

For Vitens, emphasis is now more on activation and communication to participants, said Micha van Aken: “We do not only want to learn whether the game is changing behaviour, but also with who and why? It is now more about the people and not only about the technique. Therefore, we also have started enrolment for families, apart from the schools, to get even more participants. This is necessary to measure the behavioural effects of the game reliably and to see if that behaviour persists. In the end, we will analyse all the experiences and collected data to make reliable conclusions about the effect. Are we able to influence people in changing their water use? 2017 becomes the year of truth for the Waterbattle.

The Waterbattle is a very exciting project. It’s a new phenomenon in our industry. The game already has a lot of international interest and last year won the award for Best Serious Game at the Dutch Game Awards.