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Archive for July 7th, 2009

Thoughts About Dopplr and the Environment

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 7 July 2009

The Doppler serviceI’ve been using Dopplr for a couple of years now, and have used it to keep a record of my substantial work trips over the last three years.

Wikipedia describes the service as “a free social networking service, launched in 2007 that allows users to create itineraries of their travel plans and spot correlations with their contacts’ travel plans in order to arrange meetings at any point on their journey“.

Although there is a social aspect for the service (I can share my trips with others) the aspect which is of particular interest to me is the way it can be used to the carbon costs of one’s trips.

Dopplr display of my carbon usage

Could we envisage a future in which institutions are required to account for the carbon emissions associated with travel by members of staff, with targets for reducing the amounts? And possibly the contracts for JISC-funded projects could require projects to report on the carbon costs of the travel associated with project-funded activities.

If this did happen I hope that rather than developing an application for aggregating such data from scratch, the potential of existing services, such as Dopplr, was explored. And this is something we can be doing now. Now although I know I can share this information with others, I wonder if I can export the carbon data (which is created by the AMEE service) for use by other applications?  And what about the traveller’s individual sensitivities? We can appreciate why one might not wish information about futiure trips to be made publicly available (so opportunistic burglars can’t find out when your home might be empty) but what about the carbon costs? Is this something we should be more open about (as the general public expect MPs to be with their expenses claim)? And if so, who will be the first?

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