Water Online

May 2017

Water Innovations gives Water and Wastewater Engineers and end-users a venue to find project solutions and source valuable product information. We aim to educate the engineering and operations community on important issues and trends.

Issue link: https://wateronline.epubxp.com/i/816402

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Page 19 of 38

Administration reported that by 2014, "U.S. electric utilities had about 58.5 million [AMI] installations. About 88 percent were residential customer installations" (EIA, 2016). On the other hand, in the water sector, AMI "remains a rarity in the U.S., accounting for less than 20 percent of the roughly 100 million water meters nationwide" (Wang, 2015). One challenge to adoption of AMI is public opposition driven by both health and privacy concerns. The former is linked to perceived health risks associated with the radio frequency electromagnetic fields generated by AMI smart meters, although the Federal Communications Commission has concluded that there is no evidence confirming that these risks exist. As for privacy, opponents often spread the fear that AMI hardware will transmit personal data that allows "Big Brother"- like government authorities to monitor the activities of citizens. Given that this kind of opposition to AMI has been well- documented, utilities must embark early upon awareness campaigns that explain the true capabilities of the technology and help minimize sensationalist attacks that overemphasize phantom risks. This will alleviate customers' concerns and help them to realize that AMI can add value to their lives and not just to utilities' bottom lines. Behavioral Science Models For AMI Adoption Creating desired behavioral changes, as opposed to simply publicizing the availability of AMI, requires going beyond traditional public information strategies for utilities. Research shows that campaigns that are focused merely on informing and educating customers, or even appealing to their economic self- interests, are less effective than those designed to appeal to the cultures, values, and principles of target audiences (McKenzie- Mohr, 2000). Behavioral science models can provide a holistic and strategic framework for developing and delivering programs encouraging public engagement and empowerment. Diffusion Of Innovation Developed by communication scholar and sociologist Everett Rogers in 1962, the Diffusion of Innovation Model seeks to explain how, why, and at what pace new ideas and technologies, such as AMI, are adopted by a given population. Different segments of that population, as defined by Rogers, fall along the model's curve based on their disposition to adopt innovations: 1. Innovators (2.5 percent) — the technologists who are eager to learn and curious to experiment with new ideas, even if doing so involves the risk of failure or disappointment 2. Early Adopters (13.5 percent) — visionaries who seek ways to improve their lives and learn from innovators about ideas and technologies that are worth adopting 3. Early Majority (34 percent) — the pragmatists who want to see and assess ideas and technologies based on feedback from innovators and early adopters, before they choose to commit (Reaching the early majority — "crossing the chasm" — is often viewed as the most difficult phase in the diffusion process.) 4. Late Majority (34 percent) — more conservative individuals who wait to adopt new ideas or technologies until they become pervasive enough that not adopting them creates its own risks and costs 5. Laggards (13.5 percent) — individuals more likely to be agnostic or apathetic about innovations and see no benefit in adopting them until the new ideas or technologies are nearly outdated 6. Skeptics (2.5 percent) — cynics who are actively suspicious of new ideas or technologies, and who may take action to resist their adoption by others As messages regarding an innovation are disseminated, they are processed by target audiences in five stages: 1. Knowledge: gaining awareness about the technology 2. Persuasion: forming an opinion on the technology 3. Decision: making a choice on whether to adopt or reject the technology 4. Implementation: putting the technology to use 5. Confirmation: seeking assurance for the decision to adopt the technology Core Motives Model In his seminal work, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Dr. Robert Cialdini identifies and fully describes six principles (or "weapons of influence") of ethical persuasion, driven by three core motives — building relationships, reducing uncertainty, and motivating action. The Core Motives Model offers great guidance to communicators in sectors like utilities, to shape behavioral change campaigns, and in fact, has been used directly for that purpose. Since the 1980s, Cialdini has helped to develop pro- environment messaging for campaigns that focus on finding the "sweet spot" where utilities can create the greatest level of wateronline.com n Water Innovations 17 PUBLICOUTREACH Diffusion of Innovation Model (Sources: Rogers [1962], Cialdini [1984], Gladwell [2000], and Maloney [2010])

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