The adventures of an analog engineer and digital storyteller who studies emerging networks and their impact on the great game of business.

Last post, Granularity and Innovation, we discussed the short and long-term ramifications of increasing the granularity by which we can measure things. We used the Green Button data from my Southern California Edison account to download energy consumption data and then made some extrapolations.

The Green Button is one of the first steps in helping people make informed decisions about their personal energy usage. It is also the building block for entrepreneurs who will come up with innovative uses for the data, something that the Department of Energy decided to build upon by offering $100,000 in prize money for the most innovative uses of Green Button data. The winners of this Apps for Energy competition were announced last Tuesday, May 22nd.

I found the breadth and depth of the apps refreshing, as each winner attacked the problem from a different and unique perspective.

For example:

Place App Name Description Motivation
1st Leafully Leafully is an app that allows people to visualize their power consumption in terms of saved trees. One section of the app shows how many equivalent trees were consumed. Another section contains a goal-setting game that maps a user’s behavior to saving a tree. Environment
2nd Melon Melon is an app that focuses on saving energy in commercial buildings. By providing basic information such as the size of building and its Green Energy button data, the app generates an Energy Star benchmark, comparing the user’s energy consumption with other buildings nationally. If the building scores in the top 25% of all buildings, it may also qualify for an Energy Star certification. EnergyStar Rating
3rd VELOBill VELOBill looks at the problem from the residential customer’s perspective, helping consumers make sense out of their monthly utility bills (gas, water, and electric). It puts mind-numbing, text-based content into an easier to read, more graphically pleasing format. Finally, it performs an analysis on usage, and make consumption reduction recommendations. Understanding Energy Bills
Student Wotz Wotz is an app that comes from the University or California Irvine. It’s an HTML 5 app that breaks the data into three different sections: Play, Explore, and Challenge. The Explore section allows one to take a look at their energy usage over time. The Challenge section offers not only ways to reduce consumption, but puts the various energy savings into fun terms like “cheeseburgers.” The Play section contains two games (Asteroid and Tetris) with each game’s difficulty based on one’s previous energy consumption readings. Education/Play

Challenged-based innovation is a way to tap into the collective wisdom of the crowd. It allows organizations to work with people who are passionate about a subject, as opposed to those who are only in it to meet the bare-minimum requirements of a contract. It’s a way to reach into the soul of the entrepreneur and more organizations should consider using it.

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