Photo by Josefin Smeds

Save the Climate – One App at a Time

#IoT for Good, Guest Contributor

I came across Klimaträtt, a smart phone app for reducing carbon footprints.  And I was lucky enough to chat with Anna Rehnberg, the project manager for Klimaträtt at Uppsalahem, a public housing company in the city of Uppsala.  These are Anna’s words:

In essence, Klimaträtt is a tool for our residents to keep track of their carbon footprint and get inspired to reduce it. The carbon calculations are done in collaboration with Chalmers University of Technology and we collaborate with lots of different actors to keep track of people’s consumption of food, energy, transport and more. By collecting data from your credit card, transit pass, car pooling membership etc., you get an overview of your carbon emissions and can set up a personal reduction goal.  You then get weekly feedback on your progress, illustrated by a polar bear on a ice sheet that will be happy or sad depending on your track record.

Photo from klimatratt.se

Photo from klimatratt.se

There are many smart tools for keeping track of your energy consumption, but this one takes it one step further and aims to show a holistic picture of the climate impacts of your full consumption. Besides energy and housing, Klimaträtt also monitors transport, food and other expenses. It is unique because so many different companies are collaborating and each one takes responsibility for delivering detailed data about the carbon emission from their products and services.

The project is done in collaboration with many actors, for example a big food store, the local public transport company and a major bank. By allowing the data streams from your purchases at these places to feed into the app, the carbon footprint can be calculated. Sometimes the footprints are calculated based on average values for the type of item you purchased, but in the case of food quite exact values for each food item is available.

This is a pilot study where so far 32 residents in one of Uppsalahem’s housing areas are involved. The project has only been running for a couple of months so we can’t say much in terms of reductions in carbon footprints yet, but we have received a lot of positive feedback from the residents. The app is combined with inspirational material, such as a recipe folder with more climate-friendly dishes and gardening workshops which we see have helped to stimulate the interest and level of engagement from the residents. People want to reduce their climate impact, but they want to know how to do it in an easy and convenient way. Klimaträtt helps them do this.

It is also important to remember is that we are not collecting any new data. The data we use is information which the stores automatically collect since a long time, and what’s new is that we’re putting these data streams together to show a holistic picture of someone’s carbon footprint. All users of the app have agreed to these terms and conditions. Also, if you don’t want your full consumption to be monitored, it’s also possible to connect just one aspect, such as your food expenses.

As per ‘next steps,’ well, this pilot project ends later this fall and we will then evaluate the results. If they are promising we will look into the possibilities to roll it out on a larger scale to make it available for more people and involving more actors. If and how we will be able to do that is something that we will look into after the end of the project. We see that Klimaträtt has the potential to make people more aware of the impact of their consumption and give simple incentives and inspiration for reducing this impact. Using smart technology is exciting and we hope for a bright future for this kind of tools.