Blog: How to Fight Climate Change with Open Data
Climate change is a proven fact. Global warming has caused serious changes to the planet, such as rising sea levels, extreme weather events, deforestation and the extinction of species. However, we can slow down global warming by implementing more sustainable actions within our own communities, writes Chief Ecosystem and Technology Officer Janne Lautanala.
According to Sitra (https://www.sitra.fi/en/articles/carbon-footprint-average-finn/), approximately 29 per cent of the carbon footprint of the average Finn is caused by transport and tourism.
Figure 1. Carbon footprint of the average Finn (Source Sitra)
Of the 3000 kg caused by transportation, 2240 kg (75%) is caused by passenger cars.
Figure 2. Carbon Footprint of the average Finn – Transportation-related carbon footprint (Source: Sitra)
Depending on the mode of transport, the carbon footprint per km varies greatly.
Figure 3. Carbon footprints of modes of transport (Source: Sitra)
Needless to say, if we want to meet the Finnish Government’s Climate Change Plan 2030 (https://www.ym.fi/en-US/The_environment/Climate_and_air/Mitigation_of_climate_change/National_climate_policy/Climate_Change_Plan_2030) targets of having emissions from transport compared to the levels in 2005, we need to significantly change how much and how we move people and goods in Finland.
Figure 4. Traffic mode market shares by travelled kilometres – people transport.
There is no silver bullet!
Personally, I don’t believe there is a silver bullet for this problem. However, we do need to work on several fronts:
- Emissions must be reduced by replacing fossil fuels with new low-emission alternatives.
- We can also improve the energy-efficiency of vehicles and transport systems.
- Cycling and walking should promoted through joint state and local government programmes.
- Transport systems in urban areas should be developed through land use, transport and housing agreements (MAL), infill building should be promoted, and jobs and services steered to traffic nodes.
- We need to significantly increase the amount of remote work possibilities through existing technologies and future possibilities such as AR & VR.
- We need to promote better ride sharing and carpooling.
- As well as a number of other issues.
More carrot than stick – Open data to the rescue
I believe we need to provide more carrot than stick to help with the transition to a lower carbon footprint. The key enabler for the change is open data.
We need to ensure that multimodal people travel and logistics chains work so that trips can be combined and optimized. In order to make travel smoother, safer and less polluting, full visibility of the nationwide traffic situation, public transport timetables, routes, bus&train location, etc., must be enabled in order to make public transport a compelling alternative to the private car. To increase ride sharing and carpooling, more innovations are needed.
Figure 5. Kyydit.net - ride sharing site in Finland
Despite all the talk, there has been very little change in the market shares of modes of transports in Finland.
In Finland, we have many great examples of what can be achieved with the help of traffic open data. Here are just a few:
- Digitraffic (http://www.digitraffic.fi) is a service operated by Traffic Management Finland. It offers real-time traffic information. Currently, the service covers information about road, rail and marine traffic. The information is open data, which is distributed through open APIs.
- Helsinki Regional Transport Authority (HSL) offers open data as interface services and data packages (https://www.hsl.fi/en/opendata), including, Journey Planner APIs, Public transport network and timetables, city bike trips and more.
- Matkahuolto (https://www.matkahuolto.fi/corporate-customers/interfaces) has interfaces for linking online store applications to Matkahuolto’s data system via the XML interface.
By reducing both the total kms (reduction in travelled kms through remote work, carpooling etc.) and the carbon footprint / km (removal of fossil fuels, transition to public transport and cycling, intelligent traffic management, etc.), we can all make a difference. Choose to walk, cycle or take the bus. By leaving the car at home, you’ll be making a simple decision with immediate results.
Chief Ecosystem and Technology Officer, Traffic Management Finland