Leveraging Open Data to Drive Citizen Action Against Climate Change

Guest Blog by Diana Carter – Lead Solution Engineer at Salesforce

On September 14, Salesforce and Bluewave presented their Dublin Carbon Calculator to an audience of public sector agencies, partners and citizens as part of Dublin’s Climate Action Week 2022. The session marked the finale of the Open Data Climate Action Competition coordinated by Smart Dublin to showcase the power of open data to tackle climate change. What’s the story in Ireland? Last year the Irish government signed the Climate Act into law, committing to a 51% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 nationwide. Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency warns that the pace of implementation of the Climate Action Plan needs to accelerate to halve emissions by the end of the decade. The seven projects were tasked with using open datasets to meet the challenge.

The Power of Open Data

What is the impact of open data? To set the scene, we heard from John Sweeney, Emeritus Professor in Climatology at Maynooth University, and co-author of the 4th Assessment Report from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), for which it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Professor Sweeney highlighted how open data has allowed us to move from uncertainties to convictions. In the UK for example, policymakers now know that a 40 degree heatwave is ten times more likely due to human-induced warming, so can take steps accordingly. Data must be combined in new ways and creatively applied to areas not originally foreseen to help us understand how climate change is unfolding and how we can respond. To achieve this, public and private organizations need to produce and leverage FAIR data – data that is Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable.

A Flavour of the Showcase Projects

The showcase participants brought to life the power of open data in a range of practical applications. Knight Frank’s analysis of journey data from Dublin cycle hire providers identified priority areas where docking stations should be provided. The interactive iAdapt game puts you in the shoes of Dublin’s mayor in 2045, and tasks you with defending the city against rising sea levels. The GoZeroWaste app flags local businesses that help reduce waste by allowing shoppers to bring reusable containers, and also allow you to organise a challenge with friends or colleagues to gamify the experience. Overall prizewinning project combined multiple datasets to help users identify suitable working hubs based on multiple criteria, such as local amenities.

The Dublin Carbon Calculator

It’s no secret that this decade is critical for keeping climate change under control. But endless bad news stories can be overwhelming and leave us feeling that the problem is too big to tackle as individuals. The data can tell a different story.

In Dublin, 57% of emissions come from the residential and transport sectors. Almost two thirds of transport emissions are generated by private vehicles. In a nutshell, it’s clear that citizens do have a critical role to play in helping meet Ireland’s 2030 51% carbon reduction target.

This is where the Dublin Carbon Calculator comes into play. It’s a communications tool that combines open data with a narrative infographic to help a citizen answer a few simple questions : by how much do we need to reduce carbon emissions in my local area? What impact could energy saving measures such as heat pump or switching to public transport have? And: what can I actually do now?

The calculator aims to distil a large complex topic into a few simple relevant insights coupled with practical suggestions. If we all do what we can, as soon as we can, we’ll be well on the road to a greener, more sustainable 2030.

If you’d like to learn more, check out a brief demo of the Dublin Carbon Calculator:

Find out more about The Dublin Carbon Calculator and its contributors here.

You can also contact our experts to find out how our bespoke, Salesforce-powered solutions can benefit your organisation.