Social innovation experiments in Tartu

Main sector:

  • Governance and planning
  • Citizen engagement


The social innovation experiments initiated by the SmartEnCity citizen engagement working group in Tartu are a separate activity line that focus on innovative engagement experiments that are expected to affect the consumption behavior of people. Essentially, this means experimenting with social innovation models to facilitate behavioral change and mutual learning among pilot area and Tartu residents. Currently, the local SEC consortium is choosing between three different experiments, the main goal of which is to facilitate:

  1. Awareness-raising through training active ambassadors of the project among pilot area residents;
  2. Behavior change through monitoring the energy consumption of one family and cutting down on their consumption;
  3. Behavior change through monitoring the energy behavior of the entire building and competing with other buildings;
  4. Sustainable transport solutions that include setting up a bonus point/credit system that would award people bonus points for using sustainable means of transport.

The goal of these experiments is to encourage people to think about their behavior and to use sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions, and to have them realise that they can facilitate change through changing their own behavior and consumption habits.

Citizen engagement:

Citizen engagement is organized through the local SmartEnCity participant list and the housing associations that have joined the project. Information about the events and experiments will be distributed through mailing lists, the project’s local Facebook community and media announcements. All the events will be used for disseminating the outcomes of the project in the city of Tartu, Estonia and among international stakeholders, focusing on universities. Special training sessions will be organized at the “Tartu Planning Conference”, which is the biggest national event related to this topic.



  • Behavioral change/changes in (energy) consumption patterns
  • Increased resource and energy efficiency
  • Social integration and community feeling
  • Increased motivation to use environmentally friendly solutions 
  •  Better data availability


Potential for replication:

The replication potential of the social innovation experiments that will be planned and carried out in Tartu will largely depend on their outcomes. Once the results have been analysed and interpreted, the University of Tartu will disseminate them both among national and international communities, focusing on universities and municipalities that might be interested in similar experiments.


Rein Ahas
University of Tartu