Category Archives: UH

Community-Based Social Marketing

I just finished reading this quick-reference guide to Community-Based Social Marketing by Doug McKenzie-Mohr. This is a condensed version of the concepts from the online book, which appears to be an updated version of the book Fostering Sustainable Behavior from 1999.

With an eye towards the dorm energy competition we are planning at UH, I found the concepts very useful and it seems like our initial requirements for the website are headed in the right direction. For example, we plan to have participants make public commitments online through the site, in particular commitments that should be visible to other residents on the participant’s floor. We also plan to make the commitments very public via large-screen displays in the lobbies of the dorm(s). This is in keeping with McKenzie-Mohr’s recommendations on the use of commitments.

One member of the design team (Shanah) suggested that we have a weekly individual winner for each floor, so that each floor would have someone to look for assistance and encouragement. This is a great example of using the concept of “norms” to encourage people to alter their behavior.

The current design calls for extensive incentives in the form of coupons, pizza parties, and maybe iPods. McKenzie-Mohr cautions that removing incentives (which will happen at the end of the competition) can actually reduce internal motivation that existed before the provision of incentives. It will be interesting to see what happens to electricity usage after the competition is over.

The other lesson we need to take heed of us the use of focus groups and possibly surveys while we are designing the competition. We need to know what our target audience thinks about the competition, and the design of the website.

The Community-Based Social Marketing website has more information and lots of links to articles and case studies.

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WattDepot first release available

As usual, the last 10% took longer than expected, and I spent all last week finishing WattDepot up. It now has all the functionality required by the first WattDepot assignment in ICS 413/613. Virtual sources are working (except for some exceptional cases), and interpolated resources like power, energy, and carbon all work. There’s also a new wiki page explaining how to use the WattDepot client library. To help those unfamiliar with the physical concepts behind electrical power, I wrote a page explaining those concepts. There is now a public distribution of WattDepot available, but no installation documentation so not really useable outside the class context yet.

While getting WattDepot to this point was pretty exhausting, there’s still a laundry list of refactoring and features needed to make it more generally functional. I’ll be working on that this week.

Plans from last week:

  • Finish implementing Power resource GET for a timestamp
    • done
  • Design and implement Energy resource GET for a range of times
    • done
  • Design and implement Carbon resource GET for a range of times
    • done
  • Refactor some of the bogus WattDepot code that has accumulated
    • started, but much more to be done

Other accomplishments from last week:

  • Discovered that PMD failures were not failing Hudson builds for projects derived from hackystat-developer-example. Fixed for wattdepot, oscar-project, and hackystat-developer-example, but others could be lurking.

Pointers to work products:

Plans for this week:

  • Make list of refactoring changes to implement
  • Start designing real persistence layer
  • Make Saunders demo with virtual source Google visualization?
  • Start planning for next 413/613 assignment
  • Write WattDepot server installatoin and configuration wiki page

Cool links:

  • UHM thesis/dissertation LaTeX style. This has been worked on by many hands, and I recently passed on the link to ICS MS student who passed his defense and now needs to work on formatting. 🙂

Oscar support almost done

As planned, the past week has been all about building out the WattDepot functionality required by Oscar, specifically the first assignment using Oscar data in ICS 413/613. I’ve made massive progress, but still not quite finished with the requirements for the assignment. Planning to finish that up today, and then probably do some refactoring and prioritization of additional WattDepot functionality.

Plans from last week:

  • Finish input client for OSCAR data
    • done
  • Design and implement Source summary resource
    • done
  • Implement GET SensorData for a range of times
    • done
  • Design and implement Power resource GET for a timestamp
    • done for normal sources, almost done for virtual sources
  • Design and implement Energy resource GET for a range of times
    • not done
  • Design and implement Carbon resource GET for a range of times
    • not done
  • Implement virtual sources
    • done, though as new features are added they will need virtual source loving

Other accomplishments from last week:

  • Discovered that PMD failures were not failing Hudson builds for projects derived from hackystat-developer-example. Fixed for wattdepot, oscar-project, and hackystat-developer-example, but others could be lurking.

Pointers to work products:

Plans for this week:

  • Finish implementing Power resource GET for a timestamp
  • Design and implement Energy resource GET for a range of times
  • Design and implement Carbon resource GET for a range of times
  • Refactor some of the bogus WattDepot code that has accumulated

Cool links:

Macro-level electricity feedback displays

Last week was Earth Day and the UHM Sustainability Fest. I spent some time working in the Sustainable Saunders Energy team booth, helping to answer questions about renewable energy and what we’re doing at Saunders.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about feedback about energy use for the upcoming Saunders studies, and it got me to thinking about feedback on the macro level. UH Manoa has made some pretty aggressive goals for electricity reduction: 30% reduction by 2012, 50% reduction by 2015 (based on 2003 baseline). As I understand it, the campus now has electricity meters monitoring the connection to HECO, so we should have good data about how much electricity UHM is using. With data on how much electricity UH used in 2003, it should be easy to have a graph that shows how much UH has to reduce energy usage by to meet the two goals. I’d be happy to create such a graph and keep it updated at least monthly, if I had access to the data. Unfortunately, it’s not publically available right now. I think a graphical representation of how far UHM is from these goals (2012 isn’t that far away!) would be helpful in motivating the entire institution to action.

I also realized that the same thing could be done for Oahu and the state of Hawaii as a whole. Hawaii has set goals for the percentage of electricity generated by renewables, and DBEDT is publishing monthly reports on the state’s energy usage. It should be easy to create a graph that shows how we are progressing towards those goals.

I’m still working on my draft intervention comparison tech report. It’s not complete, but will be shortly. I’m also thinking about what my end of semester report should consist of. The intervention tech report could be part of it, perhaps also a trimmed version of my literature review appropriate to the Saunders metering research.

Planned items from last week:

  • Finish draft of intervention comparison chapter
    • not quite done
  • Finish dorm energy competition paper
    • done, a very interesting read
  • Read next paper from revised reading list
    • done, read about Kuckuck. Not as illuminating has I had hoped.

Other accomplishments this week:

  • Worked Saunders booth at Sustainability Fest
  • Provided feedback on CPATH NSF proposal
  • Put intervention document into it’s own tech report (09-12)

Hours worked: 25 (target: 30 hr)

Plans for coming week:

  • Finish draft of intervention comparison tech report
  • Revise draft based on Philip’s comments
  • Send 09-12 to Dave Nixon
  • Make graph of Hawaii state energy usage

Pointers to work products:

Cool links:

State of the College of Natural Sciences

Just got back from a presentation by Chancellor Hinshaw and Dean Teramura on the State of the College (of Natural Sciences).

The big issue is obviously budget cuts in UHM’s general funds. The legislature is pushing for a $33M cut, which is 13% of our general funds. There are still 2 more weeks of maneuvering at the capitol, but if the cut stays at that level, there will be no choice but to have layoffs for lecturers, temporary faculty, and some administrative staff. Chancellor Hinshaw has been lobbying the legislature to reduce the cuts, and her arguments sound convincing to me: UHM is more important to Hawaii than any university in any other state, and UHM can be a big part of the solution to the economic crisis if it gets sufficient funding.

Interesting point about the graduate assistant salaries: based on some discussions among the Dean’s advisory council, GA stipends have been increased by one step across the University, and GAs in the college are getting 2 steps to stay competitive.

The major theme for dealing with the cuts is to do whatever is possible to minimize the impact on the student learning experience. This means that faculty and staff will have to take on a lot of the burden, such as teaching larger classes less frequently. With layoffs of temporary faculty (and positions vacated by retirement that will go unfilled), faculty may be teaching classes that they are less familiar with.

One interesting point that Chancellor Hinshaw brought up is that when Facilities fixes a leaky roof (apparently there are 37 on campus!!), they are trying to put photovoltaic panels on to get some ongoing fiscal benefit from the work. Interesting to hear, but I haven’t heard of any PV installations on campus that have happened that way.

All in all, it sounded to me like the administration is doing a pretty good job handling a difficult situation.

Improved UHM online resource bookmarklet

A while back, I wrote a little bookmarklet to navigate the UH Manoa proxy system for accessing electronic resources (like the ACM Digital Library). Turns out, someone else made a bookmarklet that works better than mine. My version hardcoded the resources that it would support, but Jeff McNeil’s version works for any of the resources that UH supports. You can find his Manoa Researcher Toolkit here, and the Reload page through Proxy bookmarklet is what you are looking for.

Climate Teach-In @ UH Wed 1/30/2008

There is a US-sponsored international meeting on climate change on the UH campus across the street from my office, which is pretty amazing. I don’t hold much hope that the Bush administration will wise up though, but at least they will be out of office soon. Life of the Land has more information on both the official meeting agenda and community events.

For the public there is teach in scheduled for Wednesday night from 7-9:30 PM at the UH law school. I’m planning to check it out after the first half of the Honolulu Coders meeting that night.