Power to the people: the clean energy map
One of the biggest challenges to the environmental and sustainability goals of the planet as a whole is the simple scale of it all. With a problem that is, frankly, global in size and which impacts every single citizen of the world no matter their class, ethnicity, or economic status, how do you even begin to conceptualise much less form a policy about it? It’s simply overwhelming to think of billions of people in hundreds of countries with resources – personal and national – that run the gamut from plentiful to sparse coming together and creating a solution to the energy crisis, the pollution crisis, and the issue of energy saving products and sustainability.
Part of the problem has always been a lack of information. If an energy saving sustainability initiative is launched and no one knows about it, does it have any effect? Fortunately, in Australia someone’s done something about this particular issue, and the solution, The Clean Energy Map finally allows Australians to see in a simple, clear interface what’s being done with the funds collected for sustainability projects and from carbon fees.
Simple and Local
The Clean Energy Map is smart in two clear ways. On the one hand, it’s a simple, clean interface: A familiar Google-style map that the user can access in just about any web browser, allowing for zooming in and out and other standard mouse-driven interaction. The sites where clean energy programs have been established are marked with the familiar coloured markers, and users can simply click on the markers to get a thumbnail description of what’s being done, how long it’s been in operation, and other salient details, along with links to further information.
Alternatively, users can enter their postcode to see only the projects that are local to them.
Secondly, The Clean Energy Map is local. It’s just Australia, not the whole world. A map of this sort that covered the globe would be impossibly complex to create anyway, but even assuming it was not prohibitively difficult the overwhelming amount of data would make the tool less useful to your average citizen, not more. Keeping the scale fixed on Australia is more manageable, scaling everything down to a size that most people can conceptualise.
Reduce Energy Use Everywhere
This approach helps to make people’s own local energy saving projects feel more like part of a whole instead of an island with a population of one. Many people are aware of the crises facing Australia and the world at large and engage in their own attempts to mitigate power consumption and to save electricity, but it’s easy to feel discouraged when the impact realised from these personal projects is modest. Seeing the Clean Energy Map can help to put everything into perspective as the whole of all of these projects, big and small, being greater than the sum of its parts.
Finally, the great advantage of the Clean Energy Map is that it creates a layer of accountability. Many of the projects undertaken in Australia are funded by the government or through the carbon price, and it’s only just that the citizens be able to see where that money is going and what is being accomplished with what is essentially their money. The Map offers a simple, clear way to see what’s happening in your local area or across Australia as a whole, enabling citizens to take ownership of the whole daunting process of sustainability and energy savings without having to invest time and money into their own research – because most people cannot simply take time off from work or mortgage the house simply to investigate the nation’s energy policies.
The hope, of course, is that the Clean Energy Map also serves to inspire and encourage people to dedicate some of their personal energy to the question of how we’ll manage global energy in the future. Nothing inspires like seeing progress in real time, and the Clean Energy Map allows everyone in Australia – and the world – to see progress every day, right there on the screen.