C-AWARE: Enabling Consumer Awareness of Carbon Footprint Through Mobile Service Innovation (Cambridge/Nottingham/Exeter)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Computer Laboratory


C-AWARE is directed at providing applications to inform consumers of the impact of their behaviour on their carbon footprint, in the context of home energy use and transport. It is a two year feasibility study.There is body of knowledge about sensors, sensor networks, and aggregation of sensor information on which we can build. But while there are a number of systems for monitoring and informing consumers about energy use, these tend to be closed systems in which the information service provide controls the infrastructure, be this an energy provider, a road traffic information system, or a building management system.The assumptions which underlie this work are threefold:i) that globally deployed solutions will use mobile phones to interact with users (since in many parts of the world this is the only information infrastructure);ii) that there is a gap in our knowledge about how information applications can influence user behaviour both individually and as a collective; andiii) that we require platforms that both give flexibility to allow the rapid evolution of deployed applications, and are commercially viable.This is not a technology development study; the building blocks - sensor networks and mobile handsets - are available. It is an examination of two distinct but interacting challenges: (i) developing and evolving compelling and influential energy information applications; and(ii) providing a large scale commercial platform on which this development and evolution can be undertaken by independent application providers in light of observed behaviour.In each case the specific instances (energy awareness application, sensor aggregation) and general methodologies (user-centric application development, intermediate network services) will be examined. To meet these challenges we have brought together a multidisciplinary team from Cambridge, Nottingham, Exeter, and China Mobile. The expertise includes business modelling, networking and distributed systems, security, psychology, and sociology.China Mobile have allocated $100k in personnel and other costs to this project.China Mobile, the world's largest mobile operator are a key partner in this project, having demonstrated a willingness to entertain business models and deploy intermediate services - such as aggregation of sensor information - to allow application innovation by third parties.As well as providing insights into the problems described (and many subproblems) the main output of this project will transferred to commercial exploitation via China Mobile or one of its global partners and via the Horizon Digital Economy Hub at Nottingham and Cambridge.

Planned Impact

The impacts of this research outside the academic community will be: - insight into applications that change user behaviour in energy consumption - business models for network operators to supply aggregated real time information to independent application providers - insight into privacy properties of aggregated information flows relating to user behaviour - potentially the formation of new application providers and a platform on which energy awareness applications can develop rapidly in the light of experience of changes in user behaviour - potentially a fundamental shift in the provision of intermediate network services by operators Our major routes to commercial impact are through our partner China Mobile (and its international partners) and via the commercial partners of the Horizon Digital Economy Hub at Nottingham and Cambridge. We are concerned in this work not just with technical feasibility but with commercial viability of the systems we are prototyping. We have arranged two workshops (late 2010, late 2011) funded by China Mobile outside this project which will highlight this research to General Managers of China Mobile businesses, China Mobile partners and China Mobile's key stakeholders. A major impact success criterion for this work will be the further steps China Mobile and partners make with the prototyped systems.


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Badinelli R (2012) Viable service systems and decision making in service management in Journal of Service Management

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Bedwell, B (2011) Disrupting social order by exposing personal accountability for energy consumption in Internet of Things marries Social Media workshop at MobileHCI 2011.

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Ng I (2012) Value, Variety and Viability in International Journal of Service Science, Management, Engineering, and Technology

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Ng, I. (2011) Value, variety and viability: designing for co-creation in a complex system of direct and indirect (goods) service value proposition in The 2011 Naples Forum on Service - Service Dominant Logic, Network & Systems Theory and Service Science: Integrating Three Perspectives For A New Service Agenda

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Ng, I. (2012) The use of information technology as value co-creation: the roles of contextual variety and means drivenness in SERVSIG International Service Research Conference 2012

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Ng, I. (2012) The Roles of Contextual Variety and Means Drivenness in Driving Continuing Use of Information Technology in AMA SERVSIG International Service Research Conference (SERVSIG 2012)

Description Understanding energy consumption in the built environment requires finer-grain information than is generally available. There is therefore utility in obtaining this information, although issues concerned with personal information arise.

Individuals in many environments do not feel that they have any control of the actions in the built environment, there is a need for development of building controls that interact with, rather than control, occupants.
Exploitation Route Deployments of monitoring infrastructure developed
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Energy,Environment

URL http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/research/srg/netos/c-aware/
Description The key findings at Cambridge have been concerned with gathering and presenting information on energy consumption. This has led to continual development of a visualisation tool (Joule) and an increasing number of fine-grain low-cost energy monitors in the University and further afield. Work on personal data and on low cost sensors to understand user behaviour carries on. The tool to monitor and display energy use is now being used to formulate business cases for investments to reduce carbon emissions.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Energy
Impact Types Economic

Title Energy visualisation tool 
Description Interactive visualisation of energy consumption from energy logs, including time plots, Sankey diagrams and tree plots 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact Gaining wider use, experiments in visualisation of fine grain measurement 
URL http://www.cam.ac.uk/meters/vis