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Oberlin, Ohio Pilots Environmental Dashboard


We all know that saving on water and electricity is good for the environment, but environmentalists and educators in Oberlin, Ohio have now created a clever interactive computer display to help concerned citizens better understand energy and water usage in their city.


The Oberlin Environmental Dashboard, just launched this past week, presents a fun and attractive, comic-book style model of Oberlin City, Oberlin College and neighboring Cleveland. The dashboard integrates graphics and information about energy generation, energy consumption, clean water storage and usage, and water treatment: Blue water runs into houses and buildings while brown water is shunted to the treatment plant. Power-generating windmills spin happily while regular puffs of smoke from the coal plant remind site visitors that Oberlin still has a way to go before its carbon footprint is neutral.


Currently, the site is merely a demonstration, but future iterations will relay real-time power and water usage. According to site designers, “prior studies indicated that providing citizens with such feedback can motivate them to reduce consumption because they are more aware of the origins and limits (of resources).”


According to Public Radio International, John Petersen, one of the project’s developers who teaches environmental studies at Oberlin College, sees the project as larger than merely visualizing resource usage. Says Petersen, “We’re just as interested in having people think about how they are interacting with other community members, how they’re voting in local elections… We want them to think about all of those things as they relate to resource use.”


To check out the environmental dashboard, follow this link.