“Greening the commute” is a suggestion that seems to come up almost daily, but it’s often difficult to break old habits without seeing the tangible benefits of changing a way of life or offering an easily accessible way to act on those idealistic thoughts. Several mobile technology projects have recently brought exactly those sorts of tools much closer.
A recent project run by Volvo IT in Göteborg, Sweden enabled a group of employees to track their carbon footprint by downloading a CO2 “pedometer” onto their mobile devices. A press release published on Volvo’s website claims the software allowed the group to visualize the externalities of their commute and reduce their carbon footprint by more than 30%.
Other mobile technology research is underway at the CITRIS lab in the University of California system which would direct real-time, location-specific information about traffic congestion to mobile devices. Real-time traffic info means shorter commutes, which in turn means reduced emissions. The Mobile Millenium Project is currently being offered for free as a pilot program in the San Francisco Bay Area. Presently, the software works with many java-enabled mobile devices and there are plans to release an iphone version soon. If you live in the Bay Area, see the full list of compatible phones and how to take advantage of this service here.
The technology is evolving and spreading, and best of all, it is being developed to work on the devices most of us already have in our pockets. I can’t wait to see it go from the Bay to the Turnpike and the Triangle.