The goal of this project was to look at energy consumption data in a way that would enable owners of cafés – and their visitors – to visualise where their energy consumption is going, in order for both to make more informed choices. McCormack and More were interested in allowing one café owner to compare their energy performance with other cafés in their area. They sketched ways to bring that data to people who buy coffee too, in order to encourage them to participate in driving a lower carbon footprint for the café industry.
The team investigated the data first by colouring coding similar appliances and energy uses, e.g. lighting and heating, in order to visualise where energy is going in each café. The DNA of each café shows the difference between cafés in terms of the relative burden of each source of energy consumption. In this way it’s possible to prioritise efforts focusing on addressing the biggest consumers first. For example, it became quite obvious that it makes more sense to undertake a few changes in the highest energy consuming cafés than to focus on working with the bottom 100 cafés, in terms of reducing the total energy consumption in the city. It’s also really easy quickly spot the outliers.
The question then becomes, how do you address this visualisation challenge at the urban scale? Can we create a network where cafés compare themselves with similar cafés? What if we colour stamp cafés on their exterior walls or on the coffee cups themselves? The aim is to bring it back to a cultural issue. To have the ability to look at the energy consumption in tangible ways enables people to start a conversation, leads to greater awareness and encourages cafés to continually improve performance and contribute to the ongoing dialogue.
- Greg More is also the founder of OOM Creative a design consultancy specialising in data visualization & digital design. He is also a Senior Lecturer at RMIT University, operating within RMIT’s Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory (SIAL). His design work has been exhibited at Museum of Modern Art New York, selected for OneDotZero and Resfest International film festivals, and featured in a range of international architecture and design biennale and publications. In recent years. More has been researching, developing and teaching videogame technology for design and artistic purposes.
- Jon McCormack is an electronic media artist and academic based in Melbourne, Australia. He is interested in the creative possibilities of computers and computation, in particular how computers can enhance our creativity. Jon’s interests and research are relatively broad: philosophy, evolution, nature, visualisation,interaction design, software, sound, art and the moving image. Jon works at the Faculty of Information Technology, Monash University, where he is currently an ARC Australian Research Fellow and directs a small group of researchers at the Centre for Electronic Media Art.