Carbon 'Pedometer' Helps Volvo Cut Commute's Footprint

Carbon 'Pedometer' Helps Volvo Cut Commute's Footprint

Using a mobile phone-based software program has enabled a test group of Volvo employees to cut the greenhouse gas emissions of their daily commute by more than 30 percent.

The company this week unveiled a prototype of their CO2 pedometer project, which Volvo IT developed as part of a collaboration with the city of Göteborg, Sweden, to try and improve the economic and environmental efficiency of the city's commuting structure.

After registering with a website through the mobile-phone pedometer software, employees were notified about the CO2 footprint of their daily travels. In order to cut their emissions, members of the test group switched their commute schedules, using public transit or bicycles instead of driving.

Volvo also enabled employees who left their cars at home access to an "eco carpool" for making business trips during work hours.

"Our project demonstrates how green IT can show people how they can help to reduce the climate threat and thereby increase their motivation to change their behavior and help to improve the environment," said Kerstin Hanson from Volvo IT.

The project was part of a collaboration with the city of Göteborg to improve the efficiency of the road networks. The CO2 pedometer technology can be one facet of a technological tool to boost the efficiency of commuting by public transit and can help those who drive avoid traffic slowdowns, saving energy and reducing emissions.

Last month, managing editor Matthew Wheeland visited CITRIS, a research group at the University of California, and learned about technology in development that uses cell phones as traffic-monitoring devices. The simple system lets individuals take part in the crowdsourcing of traffic conditions, and offers a cheaper, faster and more effective alternative to existing traffic monitors.