blue+

In the year 2014, the Chinese government started implementing a social credit score system for its people. The idea behind China’s social credit score system is that small nudges and the ability to compare oneself to others is a more effective tool in changing peoples behavior than strict rules or policy. And while the Chinese model is widely criticized as an Orwellian nightmare, problems like global warming or resource shortages might call for drastic measures in the future. BLUE+ is a critical design project that explores the possibility of a social credit score system in Europe. It consists of two parts:

The first part deals with the system itself using the classic service design approach. What would be the touch points? How would it likely be implemented? How would it have to be presented for society to accept it? The second part then flips the table and asks: what might be the objects, tools or artifacts that would help an individual navigate, maybe even cheat a system like that? What are the unofficial solutions?

THE SYSTEM

BLUE is a scoring system that keeps track of peoples efforts to live a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. Every citizen has a score that can be increased by performing certain actions like recycling trash, buying local products or taking the bike instead of the car. BLUE keeps track of those actions automatically. It does so by combining existing infrastructure. Smart security cameras and biometric sensors can track outside activities, mobile payment systems can be used to collect information about spending behaviors and smart home appliances can send data about water and electricity consumption. The BLUE website and the BLUE app shows the personal score as well as how well it compares to the rest of society.

Based on an individuals performance, a rank is assigned and a number of benefits become available to them. It starts out with small benefits like cheaper insurance premiums or faster internet and culminates with unconditional basic income and priority access to goods and services for top tier citizens. A burn rate ensures mobility between the ranks. The competitive nature of the system is based on the insight that being able to compare achievements to those of others can be even more motivating than a simple reward and punishment system.

THE UNOFFICIAL SOLUTIONS

The proxy identity device functions as a proxy between a mobile device and the BLUE system. It reroutes any action that would affect the BLUE score through a dummy account. The device can be used to make purchases without effecting your score.

The shape shifting glasses allows the citizen not only to avoid facial recognition but to be recognized as someone else. The glasses have many use cases, for example avoiding racial profiling or improving someone else´s BLUE score as an additional income.

The EMP glove is a counter surveillance wearable for protesters. It creates a strong electromagnetic pulse that can disrupt or destroys electronic devices and smart city infrastructure. In cities that rely more and more on smart infrastructure to function, an attack on those networks becomes more likely.