Interactive visualisation of the energy costs of commuting

Robin Lovelace (University of Sheffield)

12:00 on Friday 20th September (in Session 36, starting at 11:30 a.m., Sir Clive Granger Building: A31)

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Description: The energy impacts of commuting are large and highly variable over space, time and technology; this presentation will describe interactive methods for communicating this.

Commuting is important due to its ubiquity and consumption of time, money and energy. In the current context of environmental change and concern over finite natural resources, the energy impacts should take centre stage. However, energy is largely intangible due to its invisibility and lack of concrete value, unlike time or money. Energy costs of commuting are rarely studied, much less visualised. This presentation will describe approaches for tackling this issue, in three main stages. First, the power of 'infographics' to convey commuter energy use compared with baths, showers and other household activities will be discussed. Second, the spatial variability will be illustrated, using maps at various scales. The time element will be included based on snapshots from the 1971 to 2011 Censuses. Finally I will look at the potential for interactive online visualisations of energy use in transport. Google Fusion Tables, OpenLayers togglable maps served by GeoServer and approaches for visualising future change based loosely on the Department of Energy and Climate Change's 2050 tool will be discussed in terms of strengths and weaknesses during an interactive display. It is concluded that all of these visualisation techniques have the potential to meet a largely unmet need: to effectively communicate the results of important geographic research to a wider audience.