Study on attitudes towards technologies and the environment

Main sector:

  • Governance and planning
  • Citizen engagement


In 2017, the University of Tartu will conduct a study on the pilot area residents’ attitudes towards technologies and the environment, exploring aspects like environmental awareness, actual behavior and consumption patterns, acceptance of new technologies etc. through interviews. The study will also analyze people’s general attitudes towards the goals of the SmartEnCity project, especially when it comes to the retrofitting activities. As such, the research questions can be summarized as follows:

  1. What are the attitudes towards technologies and the environment like?
  2. How do people evaluate the role of technology in environmental sustainability?
  3. What are the incentives and barriers of using more environmentally friendly technologies?
  4. How aware are people about the SmartEnCity project?

The interviews will consist of the following thematic blocks based on the research questions:

  • Dwelling and mobility – satisfaction with the dwelling and neighborhood, mobility habits;
  • Environmental awareness and behavior – attitudes and beliefs related to the environment, actual behavior;
  • Technology – attitudes towards technologies, actual behavior;
  • Smart city concept and the SmartEnCity project – knowledge about the concept and the project, attitudes towards the project and the expected project outcomes;
  • Socio-demographic background.

The results of the study will allow to understand the incentives and motivation for behavioral changes and will serve as input into developing social innovation models. A preliminary study with limited questions was already carried out among the pilot area residents in the autumn of 2016. A short questionnaire was distributed in all pilot area apartments and more than 200 responses were collected

Citizen engagement:

The solution is a direct citizen engagement solution as it explores the pilot area residents’ attitudes and enables them to speak out when it comes to the SEC project. These attitudes and opinions will be crucial in planning further activities in the project, especially when it comes to social innovation. The pilot area residents will be selected based on a random sample and they are free to participate in the study or reject the invitation.



  • Better understanding of the environmental attitudes and opinions of the pilot area residents
  • Better (evidence-based) planning
  • More efficient delivery of city services
  • Improved data availability 
  • More purposeful communication and engagement activities


Potential for replication:

The results of the study can be distributed internationally and they might especially interest cities that have many panel buildings and/or have plans to retrofit them. Understanding the context and attitudes of people is a crucial part of planning and collecting this input before engagement activities may result in a better outcome. Of course, the local context varies from city to city, so special surveys might be carried out that focus on the local conditions. There are no special requirements or conditions for doing so.

Rein Ahas
University of Tartu