DNA for More API Mashups
I started writing this post thinking I’d find some other Environmental/Green-related API’s to mash up with CARMA’s data. At the moment, though, I couldn’t find many data sources that make available a comparable data set as openly as the CARMA API does. It’s disappointing, as this represents a barrier to creating really interesting applications. The bar is much higher in terms of resources needed for finding, scraping, and transforming data locked into HTML tables or proprietary spreadsheet files. Still, more and more organizations are beginning to realize that making their data available – in ways others can begin using immediately – can generate a much bigger impact than keeping it to themselves. There are some interesting possibilities for CARMA mashups out there today, and I’ve documented them below. If you know of any that I’ve missed, we’d love to hear about them in the comments.
Data – Carbon Footprint
AMME, the Avoid Mass Extinctions Engine, provides a common standard for calculating carbon footprint. Data are available via an API. These calculations are tied to a profile, which could be an individual, an organization, or another entity. It’s another REST API and returns data in HTML, XML, or JSON. Access to the API requires credentials, and the idea is to provide data about the carbon footprint of nearly any product, such as an appliance, or activity, like an airplane trip. It’d be interesting to see how average domestic electrical use correlates with power plant emissions. A mashup might use AMEE to get representative home’s electricity usage for a country and compare that to the CO2 output and Intensity from CARMA.
Data – Environmental Protection Agency
The United Stated Environmental Protection Agency provides an envirofacts database, which could be really compelling if displayed next to CARMA data, particularly mapped power plants, for a US zip code, city, or county. The EPA maps show points where pollutions was discharged to water, Superfund sites, hazardous waste, and more. You can see a sample map for the latest Geospatial Data files. The zip file contains a single 169 MB file. That’s better than nothing, but you will have to parse the file and transform it into data you can query by state, zip code, etc. FindPollution makes use of EPA data for displaying pollution by US Zip code. Planet Hazard also maps EPA’s National Emission Inventory of hazardous air pollutants. But neither of them republish the data.
Data – CAIT
Protected behind a login and password, the World Resources Institute has a Climate Analysis Indicators Tool. You can get some data, but as posted in their Forum, “We have actually purposely set up CAIT to not allow users to download large amounts of data at a time (e.g., by sector, or year). This is due to our data-sharing agreement with the International Energy Agency, one of CAIT’s principal sources for CO2 data.” A quick look at the IAE’s data page shows that getting data from them is not so easy or available for free. Still, if you are willing to register and parse the CSV files , you could do some interesting analyses. For example, one could calculate and compare what fraction of a country’s total CO2 emission come from its power sector. Similarly, one could compare CAIT’s calculations of Intensity (in gCO2/kWh) per country to CARMA’s intensity data for Power Plants.
Tools – DIY Map
DIY Map is a very easy to use flash mapping application that reads data from a specially crafted XML file. It can present data as points on a map or by filling a country or state with different colors. CARMA data could be presented by coloring countries based on their CO2 emissions. Users could then click around various regions and countries to explore the data further. Transforming CARMA data to display on a world map wouldn’t be very difficult, the only challenge is in matching Country data to the FIPS country codes DIY Map uses to identify countries.
Tools – XML/SWF Charts
Another way to present data is through traditional graphs and charts, and there are many solutions available for building graphs from data. One free option is XML/SWF Charts, which takes an XML data file describing a chart and its data to draw and animate slick flash charts. Besides the usual regional/country/state comparisons, one could plot the CO2 emission, electricity generated, and intensity for a set of plants. Such a chart could provide another perspective for comparing the environmental impact of a group of plants.