Tag: environment

Fanning the flames of GovSpark

govspark  energy use in government

Very late on Tuesday night I was asked a question on twitter – can you help get a government site up in short order?  The question was prompted by this.

GovSpark is a simply wonderful idea from 16 year old coder Isabell Long that emerged from Emma Mulqueeny’s Young Rewired State.  Isabell wrote last month…

I came up with the idea because the government had just released some live and historical energy consumption data, but it was all held on the respective department websites and not central anywhere. GovSpark aims to be the central website for people to go so that they can see what the energy consumption of a certain department is at that time. The government also have targets to reduce usage by 80% by 2050, so I thought it would be a good tool to show how well one department is doing compared to another department.

Because it was Emma asking we said yes.  Glyn Wintle had already sweated to build an API which ran off live data for energy use in government buildings in Whitehall.  We were given less than a day to help push it across the finishing line by deciding what it ought to look like and making it look that way. Josh Hart coded like a lunatic and the talented and calm Ryan Dean-Corke of Substrakt sorted out some visuals for us.

As the Downing Street website reported this morning…

The Prime Minister has today challenged Whitehall Ministries to compete to slash the energy used in their departmental headquarters over the month of October.

The league table application, called GovSpark, will show data from the 18 Government Real Time Displays. The original prototype for GovSpark was developed by Isabell Long, aged 16, during Young Rewired State 2010, an event run for young developers aged 15-18 working with open government data.

It’s always a pleasure to help something good happen, in fact that’s what we are here for really.  The best bit was a short e-mail from a clearly chuffed Isabell

It looks amazing – I really love it! Everything has finally come together! 🙂

In less than a month in total Isabell’s idea has turned into site which is running a blindingly simple competition to help civil servants use less energy.    It gives civil servants the information and incentive to switch things off, or find way to cut emissions.

We can only take a tiny bit of credit for helping.  The site was sponsored and funded by The Stationery Office and the real work, before our last scramble, came from Glyn and Emma Mulqueeny.  Thanks very much to Sarah Marshall for spotting Emma’s cry for help and asking us to get involved.

Stuff I've seen March 1st through to March 2nd

These are my links for March 1st through March 2nd:

  • MADE – Talking cities lecture series – "MADE’s thought provoking lecture series, supported by Cudos and Birmingham Architectural Association, kicks off on 11th March with a talk by Irena Bauman, Bauman Lyons Architects, entitled Happy Cities – Stitching the Disconnections"
  • Shona McQuillan | Artist and Illustrator | Birmingham, United Kingdom – Blog – "What struck me when I arrived is that it wasn't all about the usual suspects; curious shoppers ambled in to see what this was all about, too. And busy it was – with sales made on the first night."
  • Green ICT Surgeries | Voscur – "Voscur would like to help members tackle their negative impact on the environment, which seems to be an inevitable part of running a modern office or organisation.

    We are running surgeries for up to 5 organisations at a time to introduce members to the Bristol Green ICT community developing around the the Green Bristol ICT website (http://www.bristolgreenict.org.uk)"

  • Using the internet for effective citizenship – at the Citizenship Foundation we believe that effective civic engagement – or more specifically, effective citizenship – requires critical reflection by all involved; not simply the release and management of data by one party and the voicing of opinions by another.
  • Leadership services – Leadership 20:20 | National Council for Voluntary Organisations – "We have launched a Commission on the future leadership of civil society, to give emerging leaders a chance to have their voices heard and discuss some of the major issues affecting both our sector, and our world. As well as contributing to this key agenda, our hope is that Leadership 20:20 develops as a network for civil society’s emerging leaders to share ideas, share information and learn from each other."

Faith and climate change: A new podcast from the Grassroots Channel

Maud Grainger and Keith Budden
Maud Grainger and Keith Budden

Four years ago, after running an Islam and the Environment Week, Maud Grainger decided looking at climate change with faith communities would be a great way to take action. The group Faith and Climate Change was set up by Maud Grainger with help from Keith Budden, who has nominated the group for Birmingham’s Local Hearts Award, in the community group category.

Birmingham has over one million of the population belonging to a faith, and this was too big a group not to help with combating climate change, said Maud. The programme has now been replicated across the UK – looking at climate change in terms of values regardless of faith. Why else would a group a young muslim men from Small Heath meet some old Quakers in Bournville? To look at how they installed solar water heater in the Friends Meeting House. Looking at climate change has brought these communities together. Here, they tell their story.

Friends of the Fields: A new podcast from the Grassroots Channel

Friends of Jasmine Fields
Ray Brookes, John McGill, Adam Noon and Sonya Williams

Friends of Jasmin Fields campaigned for a piece of land in their neighbourhood which had been left to rot and attracted fly-tipping. It was full of rubbish, but a group of local people organised a clearing up day, and then gained funding to fence off the area and renovate it and start looking after this small piece of parkland in Brandwood End – now the Jasmin Fields Nature Reserve.

The group have engaged the local school, have had young people volunteering to be a park ranger, and now the area is full of wildlife and is a place for families come to play, walk their dogs and enjoy the area they live in. The group hope they have empowered the local community. For their work, they have now been nominated for the Community Group category of Birmingham’s Local Hearts Award.