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What can data do for your daily commute? A team of energy policy consultants and software developers met in San Francisco to brainstorm how data sets could be used to make the typical urban commute shorter and greener.

They participated in a high-speed coding competition last weekend called the Cleanweb Hackathon. Similar to the collaborative programming sprints used by companies like Facebook and Google to increase workers’ creativity, the Cleanweb Hackathon gave participants 24 hours to build apps from scratch in teams. The stated goal of the event, organized by the venture capitalist Sunil Paul, was to “demonstrate the impact of applying information technology to resource constraints.”

One such team devised a system that would reward commercial buildings with incentives like carbon credits, for example, when occupants bike, walk and bus to work instead of driving.

The team’s demo application, called Commute Score, was one of 14 tools created as part of the event.

According to Kimberly Goodrich, a Commute Score team member, her group wanted to find a way to “bring your commute into the energy equation.” A downtown commercial property may not have adequate room for solar panels, but if its occupants commute by public transit, it may be greener than a solar-powered office park where workers drive a hundred miles each day. Tracking a building’s energy use isn’t enough, they argued; it also matters how people get there.

Read the entire article at the: NY Times Wheels Blog

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