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Unleash Energy Data as a U.S. Jobs Fuel

In his blog Thursday, ITI’s Tom Gavin discussed the 18 Presidential Innovation Fellows just announced at the White House.  I’ve been fortunate to have already begun working with one of them, Ian Kalin, who is now teamed with Nick Sinai of OSTP on the Energy Data Initiative (EDI).  (Check out our earlier blog on the EDI for more information.)

While two energy jams have already been held, it’s clear that Nick and Ian have plans for a lot more.  Their excitement about the new tools, businesses, and U.S. jobs that could be created via this initiative is immediately apparent.  Many of the ideas already generated are cataloged on OpenEI.org which, along with energy.data.gov, showcases a wide range of open energy data sets.

One of the early EDI projects is the Buildings Performance Database. In beta at this point, the database is intended as a decision-support platform that will enable engineering and financial practitioners to evaluate energy efficiency products and services in commercial and residential buildings.  The long-term potential is to help unlock energy efficiency financing in buildings.  More than 21,000 buildings are in the database already, with expectations that it will expand significantly.  Much more information, including the database’s taxonomy and methodology, is here.

Transportation data is also germane to EDI.  One of the biggest enablers of fuel efficiency would be an open-data approach to commuting.  Most cities manage their traffic and transit data on databases that are closed to the public.  Think of the innovations that frustrated commuters could develop if given the opportunity!  In fact, some already have.  As Green Biz recently wrote, “four percent of the 400,000 monthly trips on Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) are planned using Embark, a multi-modal trip planning iPhone app started by three college students, that has since spread nationwide.  ParkMe, another smartphone app that specializes in predictive algorithms to direct drivers to the best available parking locations, has built an entire business case around providing parking data. While this app is free to customers, developers are willing and eager to pay for ParkMe’s data because they can transform it into their own revenue stream from drivers in search of parking.”

There is great opportunity through this effort, and we look forward to working with Nick and Ian to turn the potential into success.

Public Policy Tags: Intelligent Efficiency