SmarTraq: Track, Play, Compete, Save. A community driven app that could be a first step in helping communities understand their energy usage better.
With the advent of the smartphone, I had a really cool opportunity to witness several health apps come to life over the past few years. Combined with technologies such as smart wrist bands, watches, and other wearable technologies, these apps have helped people lose weight, train better, become more competitive, eat better, and overall improve their health. Apps like Strava allow for spontaneous communities to develop, and then compete. You can post record times of bike rides on certain locations. Other apps allow one to share what food they ate, and allow friends to comment on these actions-- encourage healthy decisions, and discourage unhealthy ones. Imagine if we had an app that allowed for communities to track energy usage, and compete.
Building on several ideas that have been brought to light and discussed both through the idea and research phase, SmarTraq is a concept for bringing data tracking, data collection, data visualisation, gamification, and behavior modificaiton suggestions together in one app that is with you at all times. The concept could start off simple, and grow over time.
A mockup for a Smartphone and Smart Watch App for SmarTraq
As mentioned in the summary, it was inspired by health apps that have been around for some time. I think one of the biggest hurdles we will have to face before making the switch to renewables is having a thorough understanding of our energy usage, and being able to have accurate numbers to help us make changes.
As renewables pose many challenges currently, being able to have a clear understanding of our needs, and also being able to change behaviors within a community so that a community can use energy more efficiently and reduce waste is the first step, and SmarTraq is a concept for being able to do this.
Imagine if you could see how much energy you used in a day. The app would be connected to your energy provider, as well as a devide in your home that woudl monitor your energy usage there. It would know when you filled up your gas tank in your car. It would knwo when you were away from your home. It would know when you were in your car. All of the technologies exist in a smartphone through GPS and a data connection.
Say you left your house and left your bathroom light on. I do this all the time and am upset with myself when I get home after a 17hr day to find my light was on all day in my bahtroom. With SmarTraq, I would get a notification when I moved 200 feet away from my bathroom, that would notifiy me that the light was on, and that it was using 22watts/hr. Would I like to leave it on? Then depending on the setup at my home, if I had a connected home I could turn it off. If not, I would have the option of going back, or leaving it on. If I went back and turned it off, the app would know this. If I left it on, it would factor this action into my score and log it for a monthly energy review.
So say a whole community begins to use SmarTraq. Thier energy usage is shared anonymously, and compared to people around them. Advanced algoithms on servers spread around the world would then allow you to compare your energy usage to your neighbors, facebook friends, and family members.
Through comparison the app would make suggestions on how you could reduce your usage, or use energy more effieciently. You would be assigned a score, and this score would factor in your actions as well as your history.
By bringing the gamification aspect to the table, users would have incentive to do better and use less energy. No one would want to go on the leaderboard for most inneficient users, but they would within a community. The leaders on the other hand would be offered discounted rates, or coupons.
Like dieting apps, SmarTraq could probably drastically change how we think about our energy usage, and would give us a much better understanding of how we use it and how we could do better.
What community does this idea benefit and who are the main players?
This idea benefits any community that wants to start saving energy using connected devices. The main players would probably be Gen Y'ers who are always on their devices and are pretty competitive. The main players in this case would mostly be members who begin using SmarTraq and share their usage data in order to help a larger community gain a better understanding of energy usage and then take action to reduce their usage.
How does your idea specifically help your community rapidly transition to renewables?
By having a better understanding of how we use energy, we can begin making decisions on how to use less energy and also be more informed as to what kinds of renewables would be appropriate for a particular community. But using ramification, those who were purchasing or using energy from renewable sources, would have that added to their score, so this would be incentive for others to want to compete and try to lower their usage score, and maybe take action to purchase renewable energy in some way.
What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?
Developing a prototype app and using it within a local community could work. It would require manual input to be a lightweight experiment, but it could work and give a good understanding as to whether or not the concept would work.
What skills, input or guidance are you keen to connect with from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?
Anyone with experience in app development or energy sharing would be very helpful to help take this idea further. I am open to any suggestions, but ultimately working with people who have had experience in gamification, app development, and energy monitoring or smart homes/ connected homes.
Please indicate which type of energy is most relevant to this post:
My post doesn't mention a specific type of energy