Winston: Carbon emission tracking simplified
A UX designed prototype ready for impact.
At Digital Detox, we like a challenge and we’re committed to finding new opportunities to help businesses become more sustainable and environmentally aware. That’s for our clients, but for us too, which is why we try to set our own precedent for how a sustainable business should behave, and why we set ourselves challenges like this one.
The big challenge? How to measure our own carbon footprint in an agile way to enable us as a business to make immediate change.
As there were so many ways in which we could tackle the issue of carbon footprints, both digitally and physically, we decided to pick one key focus – transport. Our hypothesis was that if we could collect and store employees’ day-to-day business travel, we could produce engaging informative insights to educate them on their individual impact, and recommend changes.
To make this possible, we needed to build a mechanism for capturing, storing, manipulating and sharing data about how employees travel for business. It had to include their regular journeys to and from the office, as well as any additional travel they undertook. Most importantly, all of this was to be recorded in real-time.
Each journey would be matched against set measurement criteria such as cost of travel, energy expended, miles travelled and of course, the impact of any emissions on the environment. The biggest challenge we faced was how to capture all this data from individuals and store it centrally in an engaging and privacy-led way. It would need to be received regularly and kept up to date, and employees would need an incentive to track and share their travel details and costs.
The tech bit
Once we had worked out what data we wished to capture, the next step was to design a tool to transform this into useful insights. As the goal was to capture data and create meaningful insights in real-time, we integrated Microsoft’s cognitive services to inject a level of automation into the data aspect of the tool. A significant amount of business innovation research went into understanding the regulatory landscape and customer needs in this area.
We travelled to the Festival of Sustainable Business in Bristol to test our clickable UX prototype with real users, presented to automate the extraction of sustainability data from energy bills and train tickets. Members of the public provided their energy bill information and travel details and the automation worked its magic; using this information to calculate the carbon footprint of each user.
The main nuggets of feedback were:
by providing simple data, users could get insights in real-time
the prototype was engaging to use and easy to understand
users said they liked seeing a concrete result about their calculated carbon footprint in front of them, as an incentive to take action
users felt that businesses would benefit from having a tool like this to calculate their carbon footprint and encourage employees to make more sustainable and cost effective travel choices
In testing the concept, we proved our hypothesis: by turning travel data into useful insights, it was possible to encourage people to think about the impact of travel on the environment and their wallet.
The end result
We now have a UX design prototype which can be re-positioned to work specifically for any client, and as an MVP for future partnerships, with a number of tested technologies which can be added in as components.
By providing a gateway to help businesses become more sustainable and save money in the process, Winston takes out the pain of carbon accounting and reporting, generating insights for more sustainable decisions. In turn, it can drive employee engagement, organisational transparency, and accountability.
Where to next?
We’re in partnership talks with some major businesses who are keen to use Winston to achieve their own sustainability goals.
We have a verified product concept that offers an automated approach for any company to calculate their carbon footprint. Plus, we’ve developed a mechanism of generating useful insights from user data in real-time. A key strength of Winston is its automation; thanks to the integration of AI, we are able to extract real-time insights from large pieces of employee travel data. We’re very excited to see what the future holds for Winston and look forward to working with like-minded organisations to develop it further into a best practice tool for environmental awareness. Watch this space!
If you’re a business that’s serious about sustainability, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch to talk about your goals, ideas and challenges and let’s share knowledge and look at opportunities of becoming greener, together.
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