Community Indicators for Your Community

Real, lasting community change is built around knowing where you are, where you want to be, and whether your efforts are making a difference. Indicators are a necessary ingredient for sustainable change. And the process of selecting community indicators -- who chooses, how they choose, what they choose -- is as important as the data you select.

This is an archive of thoughts I had about indicators and the community indicators movement. Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hot-Mapping to Reduce Energy Use

We've seen efforts to identify people who consume water at high levels in the community and draw attention to that data to encourage conservation. We've seen similar efforts around electricity use, but those (unless a celebrity's involved0 don't seem to get the headlines or reactions that seeing someone's water bill does, especially when your area is experiencing water restrictions.

But there's an interesting new mapping technique being used in London to measure heat escaping from people's homes. Haringey Council in London sent planes (the articles keep referring to them as "spy planes" but they're just low-flight aircraft with heat sensors) to record thermal imagery, and then posted maps on the web showing differences in heat loss.

Here's how it worked:

Haringey’s mapping took place on a winter’s night when households were likely to have the heating turned up high.

An aircraft, fitted with a military-style thermal imager, flew over the borough 17 times to take pictures of almost every house in the area.

Footage of heat loss was converted into stills, then laid over a map of the area, before each house was given colour-coded ratings.

Homes that were losing the most heat were represented as bright red on the map. The least wasteful households were shown in deep blue. Shades of paler blues and reds were used to show grades of heat loss.

The stated goal was to "[help] us address three of the biggest issues currently facing Haringey — climate change, fuel poverty and housing waiting lists" by identifying vacant units and wasted energy through heat loss.

Here's the company that does this mapping (with several maps to see) -- pretty interesting stuff.

So is this a good use of data, or an invasion of privacy?

(Hat tip: Global Dashboard)


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