Summer Hack 2019 Challenges

There are a number of pressing environmental challenges that we currently face

1. Edinburgh Pollinator Pledge (Scottish Wildlife Trust)

The aim of the Edinburgh Pollinator Pledge is to create a network of people and habitats that are supporting pollinators across the city. What would be the most fun, provocative or interesting way to do either of the following?

  1. Encourage more people to sign up to
  2. Target action to specific areas of the city

Why are pollinators important?

Insects such as bees, flies, moths, butterflies and beetles are incredibly important in their role as pollinators. We rely on pollination to create Edinburgh’s beautiful landscapes and to produce many of the crops we rely on. Our city would not be the same without them and yet their numbers are in decline.

There are over 160,000 gardens in Edinburgh and these could form part of a massive network to support pollinators. Gardens can be excellent places for pollinators, but the quality varies enormously. Research into urban pollinators shows there are some simple actions anyone with access to a garden or greenspace can take.

How to do it

We are looking for a creative and engaging approach to inspire more people to sign up and show the progress of the pledge. You might want to think about using a story or the character of a bee to make your game interesting.

There were 226 people signed up to the pledge at the last count and the location information has been visualised as a map on the Edinburgh Living Landscape Pollinator Pledge page. The underlying data is available here. Each point represents a person that has signed the pledge and has contributed a node to the network.

The bee map provided shows which areas we think are the most suitable for bumble bees. This show the gaps in the network and which areas you could target to get more pledges and complete the network.

More information on the actions that people can take is available on the website including graphics and images that you can use if you wish to.

Sample Code

We have created a Jupyter notebook which illustrates some simple ways to visualise the pollinator pledge data on a map using Python. [Source code for notebook]

2. Zero Carbon Edinburgh

The aim of Zero Carbon Edinburgh is to encourage people to take action that will help make Edinburgh carbon neutral by 2040. How can digital technology be used to aid the reduction of CO2 emissions in Edinburgh by encouraging the adoption of one or more of the following?

  • natural materials
  • electric vehicles
  • less flying
  • change diets
  • energy efficient appliances

Why is the Zero Carbon important?

The Paris Agreement was signed by more than 200 nations, with the aim of keeping global temperature rises to below 2.0C. Part of the agreement is that each country will review and upgrade their commitment to action, for example by reducng net carbon emissions to zero by a given date.

As pointed out in Transition Edinburgh: “Becoming carbon neutral will mitigate the risks of climate change, and also reduce air pollution so bringing health benefits. Using energy more efficiently can reduce costs, cutting fuel poverty in this way brings opportunities to enhance well-being. Achieving these goals will bring multiple benefits.”

3. 1.2 Trillion Trees

It has recently been claimed that “there is enough room in the world’s existing parks, forests, and abandoned land to plant 1.2 trillion additional trees, which would have the CO2 storage capacity to cancel out a decade of carbon dioxide emissions.” How can we encourage the beneficial impact of trees in Edinburgh, or more broadly in Scotland? This could involve initiatives to encourage more tree planting, or preservation of existing trees, or better management of trees for sustainable forestry.

Edinburgh Tree Map provides a way of visualising over 50,000 trees in the city. It was based on an earlier release of the recently published data about City of Edinburgh Council trees. Can you think of other interesting uses for this data?

More Tree Resources and Ideas

4. Clean Air for Edinburgh

Air pollution causes illness and premature deaths. It doesn’t just affect our lungs but possibly every organ in our bodies. One of the main sources of air pollution in cities is road traffic — measures such as Low Emission Zones, which ban the most heavily polluting vehicles from city centres, can do a lot to improve air quality, although they can also provoke opposition from motorists, bus companies and drivers of HGVs. In addtion, the more that we walk or cycle, the more healthy we become, so avoiding car journeys is a win-win.

What would be an effective way of using technology to achieve one of the following goals?

  1. Promote active travel, for example by encouraging young people to travel to school without relying on their parents to take them by car.
  2. Increase awareness of the dangers of air pollution, for example by developing an initiative in Edinburgh like Air Quality Aberdeen
  3. Find ways of discouraging engine idling by stationary vehicles.
  4. Reduce the use of polluting vehicles in ‘last mile delivery’ of parcels and goods.

We have particulate monitor with the same sensors as this one which participants can use during the Summer Hack.

5. Make Your Own Challenge

Don’t like any of the suggestions above? Feel free to make up your own challenge, as long as at fits within the general theme of Improving our Environment. And make sure you discuss your idea with one of the volunteers before getting too committed to it.