Hands-on local climate action

Our CEO, Michael Harboe, recently gave a speech at a conference about digitalization in the public sector. He introduced how the app Klimaklar uses augmented reality to involve citizens in the municipalities of the Danish towns Odense and Esbjerg in local climate action.Below are his thoughts on how technology can boost climate action and SDG 13:

By Michael Harboe

The hockey stick recently became an overexposed symbol on how the Danish government puts faith in technology to solve our climate crisis.

Technology will help us. But it’s not enough. Personally, I love technology and have it has contributed to improve standards of living and quality of life all over the world. But I think we can all agree that as humans, we need to change our behavior in order not to spoil the environment for future generations. Whether that means flying less – until carbon-neutral fuel is invented – eating less meat, or whether more of us need switch from cars to bikes when commuting is for everyone to decide for themselves.

Not time for generations of change

The environment has been on the political agenda since long before Greta Thunberg was born. And without demanding radical changes of our lifestyle, we have succeeded in implementing lots of changes during the past generations. No new houseowners are looking to heat their house with oil, and very few people find it a good idea to throw trash out the window of the car.

The big question now is whether we still have generations to implement the changes needed to pass on the world we desire to our grandchildren. And – assuming we agree that we don’t – how we can make people change their behavior with short notice.

Wildfires not enough to create burning platform

The first condition needed for change is a burning platform. But the climate crises is sneaking in on us, and even when Australia or California literally are burning, it doesn’t make us buy celery for dinner instead of beef.

For that reason, we need to make the climate change concrete and present. Technology can do that down to street level in local municipalities.

What if you can see on your phone what your garden looks like after being hit by a heavy rain shower? Or how much water is running in the street, and what it will look like if you resolve it with flower beds that absorbs the water.

Engaging and hands-on technology

Citizens of the Danish municipalities Odense and Esbjerg can do that today. Virsabi has developed the app Klimaklar (CimateReady) that uses augmented reality to let the citizens see how the water affects any location in the municipality.  

It’s simple, it’s concrete, it’s fun and thought provoking – and not least hands-on. The app is a way to involve the citizens in a new way, where the technology creates knowledge and engagement as well as contribute to create a burning platform by showing what happens if we do nothing. 

The technology will not create the beds for collecting rainwater, nor take care of drainage of renewed city planning. But technology helps us as citizens identify with the climate crisis and make it present so we can start acting way before we have reached the curve on the hockey stick. 

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