An environmentally friendly world, made possible with GIS

From another student in Intro GIS

Move over Al Gore. Applications of GIS are saving the planet from imminent environmental disaster too! Recently, in efforts to reduce the estimated 375 000 commuters on the road daily, the Washington D.C. based Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) has improved its system for matching potential car poolers, with help from GIS technology. According to officials, 80 percent of commuters drive to work alone three or more times a week, but only 17 percent use some form of ride sharing (which includes public transit, car pools, walking and bicycling.) The economic and environmental benefits of taking only one commuter per day are enormous: 43 less pounds of carbon dioxide emissions and savings of $26 in overall transportation costs.

A new web site funded by the CTDA, enables commuters to connect with other travelers who are on the same roads each day and interested in ride-sharing while simultaneously saving the environment and reducing traffic congestion. The service is very consumer friendly, allowing details about driving, smoking and gender preferences to be customized. Spatial data comes into play with the free matching system, the central function of the web site. The system allows you to pinpoint information for a physically proximal match before making contact, using data bases with primary keys such as first name or e-mails to guarantee confidentiality. Its geographic system, similar to “Google Maps,” instantaneously identifies and displays a map with potential car-pool matches proximal neighbourhoods or along desired routes.

The implications of this web site are enormous. The average commuter, for some reason or another, tends to have reservations and anxieties toward car pooling, especially with strangers. The effortlessness of finding someone from your neighbourhood who is going the same direction as you means that there is no longer an excuse! Everybody should be able to take at least this one small step toward a more environmentally friendly and economically efficient future of sustainable commuter habits. With the ever rising price of gas and the floundering economy, I guarantee the success of this project, and it’s inevitable duplication in other cities. Good on ya, spatial data!]

[sieber -- an eHarmony for carpoolers?]

One Response to “An environmentally friendly world, made possible with GIS”

  1. patagonia says:

    What an great idea- as having owned a car before I think the option of carpooling and pitching in on, as you mentioned, highly priced gas is fabulous. This innovation and also the challenges (of getting people to actually join on) reminded me of an important program run by the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax Nova Scotia. It is called ‘Steer Clean’ and was a program for taking people’s olf junker cars, reusing as many parts as possible and sustainably recycling/ disposing of the rest (i.e. proper disposal of batteries containing mercury and other heavy metals that should not be dropped at a regular dump site). The Ecology Action Centre teamed up with dozens of tow truck, car shops, car repair shops throughout Nova Scotia, creating a network through which you can easily and safely get rid of an old, polluting car. Moreover, the person who chooses to get rid of thier car in this sustainable fashion is rewarded; they have they choice of a new bike supplied from Canadian Tire (another supporting company) or a tax rebate. Amazing no? Yes! But the low numbers of cars we had turned in durin ghte two years I was involved withe the Ecology Action Centre was surprisingly low. I think people are hesitant about these environmental projects because they just do not get the proper information. Also, when it comes to cars, its seems people try to re-sell old cars and parts weither they are road worthy or not. It is unfortunate that more people do not use these wonderful programs, be they technologically advanced using GIS, or being face-to face community services run by a local NGO. That being said, good things have modest beginning; word of mouth, advocacy (even blogs like these) and various types of media are needed to spread the word, the understanding and acceptance of such environmentally sustainable and innovative projects.