We are well aware of global warming and the danger of irreversible changes to the climate of our planet. Inspired by researchers, activists and students from all over the world we decided to focus our efforts on tackling the challenge of decreasing human-generated CO2 footprint to the best of our abilities. Considering all possibilities we arrived at the conclusion that we are most likely to succeed in reducing CO2 emissions by influencing individual people at scale.
Having seen that simply advertising rulebooks of good practices is not enough and often does not translate into real success we set out to find a more practical approach for changing your life. The key is not in knowing how to live, but in actually applying the rules on a daily basis. We are only humans and instead of a rulebook we need a set of tricks in our daily routines that will actually make us really follow the rulebook.
In that mindset we have developed Greenav - one of these neat tricks that will allow you to live the carbon-efficient lifestyle. See next section for more details.
What it does
Greenav mobile application gives you unprecedented convenience by aggregating all the actions connected with organizing your city commute in one place: choose your destination, pick the preferred means of transport (e-bike, e-scooter, etc.) and just go. All the payments and bookings are managed within the app without the need for installing any of the applications of the individual city transportation providers.
At the same time Greenav clearly shows you how significantly less CO2 footprint you can generate when you decide to use low carbon emission means of transport. This way, when you choose convenience for yourself you will also be exposed to a concise summary of CO2 footprint for each of your journey plan. Slowly but surely you will develop an intuition and feel for what is the most convenient way to travel for you personally. You will be able to keep up with your daily life while having no obstacles to travel in a carbon-neutral way.
How we built it
Our mobile application is developed for Android and is based on Android SDK and developed in Kotlin. For the backend we use IBM Cloud to deploy a containerized and easily scalable backend working within cloud-foundry environment and written in Python with the use of Flask framework.
Greenav mobile application provides the user with the ability to choose a destination, provides a choice of different journey plans with a clean summary of their length, duration, cost and CO2 footprint. The backend supports our mobile application by collecting all the available means of transportation through various APIs and computing the journey plans on the server side.
Challenges we ran into
One of the biggest challenges for Greenav is the aggregation of all the services a single app. It is understandable that the city transportation providers require additional motivation to allow for the direct API access to their services (for example due to in-app advertising). We believe that providing such motivation is possible thanks to a simple, yet powerful idea. The city authorities (in our case Stadt Zurich) has the means and measures to lead negotiations with various city transport providers and establish a well-functioning environment for transport provider information aggregation.
Accomplishments that we are proud of
We are proud of being able to deliver Greenav prototype which is simple yet powerful and encompasses all the key functionalities of the final product.
What we learnt
Apart from learning a lot about frontend and backend technologies and various public and semi-public APIs we have considerably improved our understanding of the business part of developing an innovative and green-field project.
What's next for Greenav
Most immediate challenge is mostly business-oriented. We need to follow up on existing effort of the city of Zurich in unifying and bringing the API endpoints of individual providers together. A series of talks followed by negotiation of the final business-plan is required. The issues that need to be agreed on include: determining set of viable incentives for individual providers to join the open API programme, make sure the business model will not discourage the emergence of new providers and how to provide fairness to individual providers aggregated by Greenav.
Link to a demo video: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1pUemQBsFeVDPfhCYmiZIyx__PBYCnULq