Latest Event Updates

Vitiden – an energy fiction

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This Thursday the 7th of December, 2017, Green Leap (which includes team members and previous team members),  launched the book Vitiden – an energy fiction. The event started with a short presentation of the book from several of the members of the project team, followed by a panel discussion with three invited guests; Pella Thiel (transition movement), Staffan Laestadius (professor emeritus from KTH) and Carlos Lopes (the Swedish Energy Agency).

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The book is not only beautiful, it is also easy to recycle and is printed on recycle paper.

There was some forty participants mingling the afternoon and early evening away, and lots of interesting discussions on energy, the energy system and a transition to a more sustainable society.

The book can be downloaded as a PDF from KTH DiVA.

/Elina

Annonser

80 glorious percent

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Today our team member Hanna Hasselqvist had her 80% seminar, which for those unfamiliar with the concept, like a general repetition and milestone one year before the dissertation. Rob Comber was the opponent at the seminar, and he did an excellent work on giving feedback to Hanna. Congratulations Hanna!

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Rob and Hanna, and lots of presentation tech. 

/Elina

KTH Water Centre

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attended a workshop at the KTH Water Center (or WaterCentre@KTH) earlier this week. The topic of the workshop was ”Can the Internet of Things make water systems more efficient and sustainable?”

The main starting point was that Stockholm Water know what they put into the pipes and they know what comes out (the charge for the water that we use) but there’s a lot they don’t know about everything in-between, including exactly where the 23% difference between input and output is ”lost”. Leaking pipes? Stolen? Substandard measurements? Something else?

Also, it seems that some losses are acceptable, say about 10% or so. Also, Stockholm Water haven’t really cared about losses since Sweden/Stockholm has had plenty of water and it’s inexpensive too. But if people use more water and Stockholm keeps growing, then there will be limits and building new infrastructure is expesive. So, how would new technologies (sensors, data, APIs, digitalization) help us understand and manage water better? Just the task of detecting and localizing a leak in an underground network is a non-trivial task today and we also raised the question of what exactly a ”leak” is – how big (in liters/second) has to be lost for something to be ”leak” that you would want to fix?

During the workshop, all participants emphasized something our Stockholm Water guest mentioned but that wasn’t really a big part of the invitation to the workshop, namely the fact that we don’t really know a lot about how water is used by households/consumers. Perhaps the (future, expected) pressure on the water system could be decreased by trying to push for ”better” habits concerning water. I found this interesting since I was one of less technically oriented persons but even the other workshop participants recurrently raised this point.

So from having thought that my role in future Water Center activities would be peripheral, it could equally well be argued that methods and ways of thinking from Human-Computer Interaction could be central, for example:

  • Our tradition of working with the interface inbetween technology and ”users”, including our mixed computer science/social science backgrounds, interests and methods. I could for example see me and Elina representing ”user-centered design” perspectives. This goes for Cecilia too who could also bring ”practice theory” into the loop.
  • Mine and Cecilia’s SPOC project emphasizes collecting ”actionable data” from another context (grocery stores) to increase sales of organic produce. The data part (collecting, visualizing existing data or figuring out what new (actionable) data sensors could generate and finding ways to leverage this data to the shop owner, to shop assistantants and to customers seem to be very relevant to Stockholm Water’s problems.
  • When it comes to (big) data and quantified self, Björn’s skills would also seem to be very relevant.

To summarize, I think that several people in our MID4S group as well as other people I know at CESC/ABE school could contribute to Water Center projects.

I also thought the workshop was well organized by the Water Center Director David Nilsson and would gladly take part in another workshop organized by him/them. I would also be interested in participating in a more directed workshop that aimed at brainstorming ideas that would be geared towards a specific project/research grant application.

/Daniel

After work/schmoozing with companies

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For the second year in a row, we organised an After Work to hustle companies and organisations to generate mater’s thesis topics/proposals in the area of sustainability and ICT/digitalisation. The basic idea is this:

  • Our students do their master’s thesis during the spring (Jan – June). They are good at what they do.
  • Companies/organisations have tasks that would be suitable and we want to find sustainability-oriented tasks/thesis topics for our students.
  • Companies/organisations do now necessarily know what tasks are suitable for our students, how to formulate a proposal to make it attractive for our students nor know how to get in touch with our students.
  • So we (teaches/researchers) organize an after work where we tell them about these things and encourage/help them formulate suitable and attractive thesis topics.

I personally think the basic idea is brilliant and think that the people who showed up think so too. What could be improved though is that only about 10 people showed up. I do think it was a very productive event though and hope it will result in not just master’s thesis proposals but also (9 months from now) in presentations of sustainability-oriented master’s theses.!

Also companies/organizations that did not attend the event are of course welcome to formulate master’s thesis proposals and to get in touch with us – and the time do that is right now as our students are starting to look for projects at this time of the year! The invitation to the after work event could be a good start.

While there could have been more people coming, we now have a program and a structure in place so it will be easy to organise an event like this next year again. An event like this is also great as part of our public outreach – telling other societal actors about what we do.

I should finally point out that the event was co-organised with the CESC research center and with the KTH School of Architecture and the Built Environment. Some companies want things done that will be more suitable for their master’s students – so it’s great to co-organise and co-host an event like this.

/Daniel

Design för energieffektiv vardag

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The 5th of October, a large contingent of team members were attending the conference ”Design för energieffektiv vardag” arranged by the Swedish Energy Agency, which is the final conference of the research program ”Energi, IT och Design”. The conference cover a summary of the projects that has been financed during the last 10 years, and a workshop on what kind of energy and design related research is needed for the future.

The theme of the conference were design for energy efficient every day life.

There were also an exhibition where the projects financed during the third and last period of the research program presented their results. There are several projects where current or previous team members have been part of. For example from Green Leap, the projects Sensing Energy, Hållbara Livsstilar, Energiframtider and Ett bilfritt år are exhibited.

Green Leap had four projects displayed at the exhibition.

Furthermore, Förbättrad energirådgivning och förbättrade energivanor genom Quantified Self Assisted Advisory were also present at the exhibition.

Quantify yourself for a more energy and resource efficient life.

We are all hoping there will be a continuation in some form, some kind of research program with similar themes as the past has had, since practices and everyday life is still missing in the energy research and development. And we need more visions of a sustainable future.

/Elina

Facilitating collective action in the collaborative economy through new interaction models, report from the Democracy and Participation Conference in Lisbon July 2017

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The Democracy and Participation in the 21st Century conference was held in July 2017 in Lisbon, Portugal, organised by the International Sociological Association. Conference participants engaged with the issues surrounding democracy at a time of technological change, including the collaborative, or platform economy. The platform economy is where a software platform facilitates matching of freelance workers to short-term work. Justin participated in the ”Democratic participation in the platform economy” session organised by Åke Sandberg from the University of Stockholm and Justins presentation drew on the work he has been doing with Åke in the past year. This session explored the impact digitization has had on the nature of work and on traditional forms of collective action. In particular, unions in many countries are losing members as their worker base increasingly finds employment as freelance workers and in the platform economy rather than in traditional firms.

David Peetz’s presentation focused on how firms still maintain a core of employees, offering a way in for unions, however unions will need to embrace on-line media such as the Our Walmart app. Todd Wolfson was unable to attend, but his presentation would have highlighted the importance of collective identity for platform economy workers, which is different from that of regular workers. Bela Galgoczi’s presentation asked the questions what makes an employee and what makes an employer in the digital economy and what are the implications for trade unions. There is the potential to create new structures such as platform co-ops but they still need to compete with mainstream platforms such as Uber.

Our presentation offered ”a new producer-consumer interaction model for facilitating collective action in the collaborative economy”, based on our exploration of how guild-like cooperatives and trade unions could work in an economy where growing numbers of individual freelance workers interact with their employers via online platforms. We presented the Software Review Alliance Board, a model that brings together union members, software programmers, workplace managers and researchers to enable collective action.

Åke Sandberg brought the session to a close, highlighting that the platform economy has led to a rise in self-employment, which is an opportunity for unions to engage with self-employed workers and negotiate on behalf of them. In the UK, the Taylor Report on working practices suggested a new category of workers, but the unions are resisting the report’s recommendations. One possibility is that workers could create their own platforms, our proposed Review Alliance model indicates how such platforms could work in practice.

The conference highlighted how human-computer interaction has changed in recent years, to play a more central role in society. Software platforms are now increasingly governing how people work, creating a new class in the process, the ”precariat” working in the ”gig economy”. However, the ideas and research presented in this session and during the rest of the conference shows that it is possible to use this technology to create new mechanisms for workers to take collective action.

/Justin Larner and Åke Walldius

 

The Taylor Report:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/good-work-the-taylor-review-of-modern-working-practices

Abstracts from the Democracy and Participation conference:
http://pascal.iseg.utl.pt/~socius/eventos/ISA-RC10/programa.shtml

 

Are companies walking the sustainability talk?

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Today Mistra Centre for Sustainable Markets (MISUM) at Stockholm School of Economics launched the 2017 “Walking the Talk?” report on sustainability communication in 88 of the largest Swedish companies. I attended the launch event which included a presentation of highlights from the report and a panel discussion with sustainability managers from BillerudKorsnäs, H&M, SEB and ÅF. Here are a few points from the presentation and discussion:

  • Compared to two years ago, when the first Walking the Talk report was published, companies are better at communicating both their sustainability ambitions and how they actually work with sustainability and are following up on sustainability goals.
  • In general, the companies do more “talk” than “walk”, but interestingly the telecommunications and technology sectors differ from the other sectors in that there is overall slightly more “walk” than “talk”.
  • Setting measurable sustainability goals, and following up on the performance, was discussed quite a lot. According to the report, more than half of the companies communicate no or only very short-term sustainability goals and only 8% of the companies communicate goals that go beyond 2020. The companies represented speculated that the relatively short time frame of a CEO may affect the time frame of sustainability strategies. They also thought some companies might find it difficult to set concrete goals related to complex issues such as human rights, but they argued that it’s definitely possible. The need for having independent third party organisations to monitor the companies’ performance was also stressed.

The report from both this year and 2015 can be found here.

/Hanna