‘Green’ Apps

Green Apps“For sustainable development to be effective and efficient, it must harness the institutions and tools of the information society”, Tony Vetter, Project Officer, Knowledge Communications, October 14th 2008.

Indeed, anyone would agree that information and communication technologies have nowadays become the most important element in people’s lives. They accompany us since the moment we wake up until we go to sleep. They form part of our everyday lives. With the latest technological inventions, and the incorporation of internet into mobile phones, we can do pretty much anything with our phones: shop, do business, use the GPS, read books, learn languages, interact with the outside world throughout all possible communication means, etc. They are fun and easy!

Canalys, a research firm, reckons that amongst the people surveyed, over half of the Chinese population has downloaded applications onto their phones which is more than twice the level of downloads seen in Europe*. “The Pew Internet & American Live Project” showed that 82% of Americans use cells phones, 35 per cent have mobile apps, and 24% use the mobile apps*. Apple supposedly carries over 225,000 apps, with more than 4 billion apps downloaded from Apple alone; the average iPhone user spends 80 dollars on apps *. As for “green” apps, Utopia.de, a German sustainable lifestyle community, states that Apple has up to 90,000 apps that promote sustainability and “green” behaviour*. Competitors such as Google and Microsoft stand right behind Apple in numbers and concept innovations.

Amongst the most popular mobile apps that promote sustainability and “green” behaviour we find the following: My water diary (calculates the user’s average water consumption and consumption trend per day and per week), The green Meter (measures the acceleration and braking behaviour of the driver plus vehicle speed and calculates the environmental impact), Green calculator (calculates the CO2 emissions caused by the lifestyle of the user, taking into account aspects of transport, household use and heating), Eco Buzz widget (provides latest news on climate change, information on where to buy the coolest organic threads on the market, which car has the least impact on the environment, etc.) and many more. But are these “green apps” actually making a change?

Rob Williams, President of3rdwhale, a green app developer, said: “With green media voices leading and the mainstream media following along, coverage of green issues has really started to have an impact. People are better informed and an increasing number are motivated to do something to make a difference. But human nature being what it is, most people still need options made easy and convenient for them to act consistently day after day. And the best green apps can be pretty clever tools in that regard”.

Mobile apps therefore constitute a very strong tool when it comes to generating awareness in society. Their aim varies from offering general sustainability tips through games to store and product directories; all of them with the final goal of making a difference.

Although the use of “green” mobile apps and technologies are increasing with time and becoming more and more popular, a number of issues impeding their widespread acceptance still exist, such as ensuring effective information and knowledge management and effective outreach strategies, ensuring data accuracy or preventing sensor tampering and system misuse, etc.*.

This year for the first time, the global GREEN AWARDS have established a new category called “Best Green Use of Mobile Apps and Technologies”. Its aim is to put forward the best examples of “green” mobile apps and technologies and finally to promote their use. The more people use mobile devices, the more awareness of the need for sustainable behaviour is created.

Let’s promote this fun and easy way to changing people’s behaviour…

* Half of Chinese are downloading mobile apps, by Bill Ray.

* The History of Apps, by Online MBA

* Mobile sustainability – eco applications gaining ground, by floriankaefer, SustainabilityForum.com.

* The Pew Internet & American Live Project, by Bill Ray.

* Mobile applications for Environmental Sustainability, by Tony Vetter, Project Officer, Knowledge Communications, October 14, 2008.

Posted by Annette Boraks

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