Unleashing the power of green data

Published Oct 05, 2011

Environmental impact information is difficult to access, thus missing much of its potential influence on sustainability decisions. It is time to apply the concept of open data to environmental information.

Sustainability decisions need to rely on the results of quantitative environmental research. Commonly, these results are found in closed, often expensive databases based on proprietary software. Alternatively, environmental information is presented in text documents (pdf-files) which cannot be processed.

- Environmental impact information should be accessible and easy to use. That’s why we have developed Footprinted.org, says Jorge Zapico from the KTH Centre for Sustainable Communication (CESC).

Footprinted is a web-based service applying the concept of open linked data to environmental impact information. In Footprinted, environmental research results are available free of charge. Data is stored in a format that can easily be processed to develop new services on top of the data. Everybody can create, present, share and reuse the environmental impact information. Different sources of research are presented in a transparent way. Unlike closed databases Footprinted does not apply a unique answer approach.

- It is a bazaar of environmental impact information, rather than a cathedral, explains Jorge Zapico.

In its current version, Footprinted provides a repository of life cycle assessments of different materials, products and processes. The next step in Footprinted’s development is to include the footprints of individual consumer products.

Footprinted is the result of a design research process within the project Data Driven Sustainability and is currently available in beta version at www.footprinted.org. Footprinted is a collaboration between the KTH Centre for Sustainable Communications, Sourcemap Inc and MIT Media Lab. Footprinted is to be presented on 6 October 2011 at the EnviroInfo Conference in Ispra/Italy.

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