Week 12: Dopplr data

I spent some time working with Dopplr this week. It now has email import features of the type that make TripIt so popular. I haven’t tried email input yet since I’m not traveling. There is a Dopplr API, but it doesn’t appear that the carbon footprint information is available via the API. I have submitted a request to add carbon querying to the API, and someone from AMEE has replied that Dopplr would need to expose the AMEE ID and then the data could be directly downloaded from AMEE. AMEE is looking like it might be a core part of PET, since they do carbon footprint calculations for all sorts of input data.

Someone created something called Offsettr that uses the Dopplr API to calcuate carbon footprint information for your entire Dopplr “fellow traveler” network from the trip distance information, but it assumes all travel is by plane.

I already had input all 3 of my trips this year into TripIt, so I was looking for a way to import them into Dopplr. The officially suggested method for doing this is to have Dopplr subscribe to TripIt’s iCal feed (also described in slightly more detail elsewhere), so I tried that. It worked OK for trips where you fly into one place and then fly out, but it only picked up the first leg of my multi-hop road trip in the Pacific Northwest. After considerable manual editing (and some nasty issues with the Dopplr web interface), I got that all entered properly. I then checked out the carbon footprint it calculated for me: 5,871 kg CO2! Yipes! Here’s the graphic:

My carbon footprint calculated by AMEE via Dopplr

My carbon footprint calculated by AMEE via Dopplr

Other ideas I had this week. The Darby paper on the effectiveness of feedback on energy conservation got me thinking about ambient displays. How should one display information about usage (electricity, etc) that is informative, but uses very little power for the display? Large computer or TV displays are the canonical choice, but that uses a fair amount of electricity. Perhaps something mechanical that moves, like a gauge or clock? Electronic ink?

Getting electricity usage for a particular appliance is easy (Kill-A-Watt), and getting usage for a whole house is also straightforward (The Energy Detective). But ideally you’d like information about total information usage plus usage data for every device plugged in. Maybe a total energy meter plus something like what’s described in At the Flick of a Switch. The Device-Level Power Consumption Monitoring paper describes a wireless system for aggregating data from plug loads throughout an area, but that will require a bunch of the meters, one for each device you want to monitor.

It would be great if HECO had live energy graphs like these ones that LBNL created during the California power crisis that showed the current usage, forecast usage, and capacity. It could also break down the capacity based on different types of generation: oil, coal, wind, etc.

Planned items from last week:

  • Read 2 new papers from literature review list
    • [DONE] New Ways to Promote Proenvironmental Behavior: Expanding and Evaluating Motives for Environmentally Responsible Behavior
    • [DONE] The effectiveness of feedback on energy consumption
  • Write up notes from papers read during PET paper lit review
    • [DONE] Device-Level Power Consumption Monitoring
  • [DONE] Put carbon footprint calculators in table form in LaTeX
    • The table exists, but the URLs are too long so the table goes off the page. Gotta fix that.
  • [NOT DONE] Run through carbon footprint calculators with personal data
  • [DONE] Check out Dopplr’s carbon tracking for travel

Other accomplishments this week:

  • Requested Dopplr add API method for retrieving carbon footprint

Hours worked: 15 (target: 15 hr)

Plans for coming week:

  • Read 2 new papers from literature review list
    • Leveraging Social Networks To Motivate Individuals to Reduce their Ecological Footprints
    • Do increases in energy efficiency improve environmental quality and sustainability?
  • Write up notes from papers read during PET paper lit review
    • Challenging Comfort & Cleanliness Norms Through Interactive In‐Home Feedback Systems
  • Run through carbon calculators with my data
  • Fix LaTeX table
  • Follow up on Dopplr API request

Pointers to work products:

Cool links:

  • Get Satisfaction is a web site that allows users to ask questions and post ideas about companies. Companies can register employees who can post official responses, and users can help other users. It’s an outsourced social support service, basically.
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