This is how it begins

The other day I had an interesting little experience. I took a Car2Go Smart car (no idea what I’m talking about? Read this post) and noticed a new tab on their console.

It had a curious little green leaf with a number in it, so I just had to tap it.

Turns out the number is my EcoScore (that CamelCase capitalization is undoubtedly a trademark of some layer of the Daimler corporation) and it calculates as I drive.

My driving has been gamified!

Ever touch of the gas pedal, change in acceleration or momentum shift is being analyzed and quantified by an opaque German algorithm. This is reflected back to me as a meaningless number and, somewhat disingenuously, as a growing or dying tree (I say disingenuous as I’m helping the environment by using a car sharing service rather than owning my own; let’s not pretend how I drive the car is what’s going to really move the needle).

Moreover, do I need my rental judging me every time I use it? And how does the score work? It’s being calculated dynamically but what is considered “good”? If the goal is to score higher, how does one do that (and as a society, do we want to experiment with changing drivers’ behavior on the fly?)?

But besides all that, the question that intrigues me is what happens if my score sucks? Fortunately, the Cambie bridge, stop and go traffic and my own impatience combined to show me:

There you go, if your score is low, you become a “careless” driver. And this is here things get interesting.

One of the facts I’ve always had in the back of my mind when using Car2Go is that everything I’m doing is being measured. I’ve never had any doubt that the same GPS link that helps me find the car is also sending all my driving quirks (under the banal term “telemetrics”) to some server.

Now I know that this data is being rigorously mined and scored, determining my right to rent a car. If my score is consistently bad am I going to get an explanation as to how to improve? Perhaps an EcoCoach? Or will I just find myself locked out of the fleet with a letter asking me to return my card?

Time will tell, but with the EcoScore I know that this is how it begins.