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Hacking for sustainability

Published Jan 17, 2014

Jorge Luis Zapico’s PhD thesis demonstrates the potential of open, dynamic and interactive sustainability data with an impressive portfolio of “hacks”.

Jorge Luis Zapico
Jorge Luis Zapico

In his research, Jorge Luis Zapico follows a research through design method by developing applications, prototypes and events in order to showcase new ways of working with sustainability data. He has developed five cases or “hacks” which are presented in his PhD thesis:

  • Greenalytics shows how sustainability data can be created with a mashup approach using existing sources.
  • Footprinted tests how sustainability data can be opened up and shared using open licenses.
  • gives an instructive example of how visualizations can make sustainability data comprehensible.
  • Webenergy and HelsinkiCO2 show how sustainability data can be presented in a dynamic way.
  • Greenhackathon explores how the creative use of sustainability data can lead to innovations and new applications.

These cases show the innovative potential of bottom-up data gathering, automatic data collection and crowdsourcing, real time orientation, transparency and openness, dynamic and interactive visualizations and new approaches to innovation. Potential problems and risks are also explored e.g. the focus on quantitative data that can overshadow qualitative aspects which are difficult to express in figures. Communicating uncertainties behind data and calculations can also be a challenge.

In his conclusion, Jorge Luis Zapico argues that the impact of ICT goes beyond being just tools:

“Hacker values such as openness, sharing and creativity vitally contribute to the growing role of ICT in the field of sustainability. These changes are not only technological, but also cultural”, says Jorge Luis Zapico.

Welcome to attend Jorge Luis Zapico’s defense of dissertation 27 January 2014, 10:00, at room F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, KTH main campus.

Download the PhD thesis Hacking for Sustainability at

Contact: Jorge Luis Zapico,

Bernhard Huber

Page responsible:Bernhard Huber
Belongs to: Centre for Sustainable Communications
Last changed: Jan 17, 2014