The Design of Application - Paper Example

6 pages
1378 words
Sewanee University of the South
Type of paper: 
Thesis proposal
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1.0 Introduction and Background

Nelson Mandela once said that "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." For positive change to both humans and the environment, it is critical that communities and their populations must be educated about the impact of pollution. For global impact, we must start with individuals!

Greenhouse gas buildup within the earths atmosphere has an adverse impact on the Earth. By trapping warmth through the reflection of heat back towards the earth's surface, global temperatures increase. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in their Climate Change 2013 Report, the globally averaged combined land, and ocean surface temperature data as calculated by a linear trend shows a warming of 0.85 [0.65 to 1.06] 0C, over the period from 1880 to 20121. Greenhouse gases are made up of separate components such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases. Of these individual components, the largest contributor is carbon dioxide (CO2) which makes up 82% of all greenhouse gases2.

In 2014, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) noted that at 30%, China was the top producer of carbon dioxide emissions globally. Unfortunately, according to the same report, the United States came in second by releasing fifteen percent of the global carbon emissions. To quantify this, in 2015, the United States emitted 5,411 metric tons or 11,929,198 pounds of carbon dioxide. In 2017, the Agency broke down the total greenhouse gas emissions by economic sector as follows2:

Electricity 30%

Transportation 26%

Industry 21%

Commercial and residential 12%

Agriculture 9%

The commercial and residential economic sector was further broken down into individual carbon generation activities. This includes carbon emissions from transportation, waste generation, and energy use.

To reducing individual carbon dioxide emissions, human behavior and the contributing personal attitudes need to be modified through education and awareness. As the Ajzen/Fishbein model indicates, the theory of reasoned P (TRA) was developed to explain the relationship between an individuals attitude and their behavior. A study published by Schwenk and Moser focused on investigating the accuracy of the Ajzen/Fisbein model in predicting human behavior. Utilizing a Bayesian method of knowledge synthesis, the study noted a substantial correlation (mu.theta=0.5400(rxy)) between intention and behavior in the field of environmental behavior. According to these results, the intention or attitude of an individual drives their behavior. Relating to environmental issues, modifying attitudes through education can be a dominating factor for changing behavior3.

A study, describing the connection between public perception and behavior change, was conducted among 1202 respondents in Portland, Oregon and Houston, Texas and published in 2008. The study, which was carried out in the English and Spanish languages, utilized a random digit dialing telephone survey conducted on nine separate occasions, four in Portland and five in Houston. The surveys focused on identifying predictors that trigger behavior modification related to mitigating global climate change. Results of the survey indicated key predictors linked to increasing voluntary mitigation for more sustainable actions including heightened concern about climate change, higher levels of education (some college and beyond), and age (young individuals were more receptive than older individuals)4.

A key element of potential behavior modification is the individual motive that triggers change. Self-affirmation or how an individual adapts to information that they feel is threatening to their self-concept or beliefs is the critical driver. Research completed at the University of Sussex looked at ecological worldview perception. Self-affirmation led to more constructive pro-environmental motives among participants with positive ecological worldviews while the opposite was witnessed with participants not experiencing self-affirmation5. It can be inferred, therefore, that a major challenge of this project will be triggering behavior change with individuals that have a negative ecological worldview or express less concern upon the consequences of their actions upon the environment.

In 2015, to reduce students carbon footprint, Shyh-ming-Lin conducted a study examining the utilization of a personal carbon footprint management system and persuasive technology. The management system was utilized to teach students about low-carbon behavior and reduced water usage to induce environmentally friendlier practices. With the aid of a software program used to track emissions totals, the system educated students about carbon generation and resource reduction. A separate module that delivered tailored messages based on the carbon generation and water usage totals was also utilized. The results of the tracking indicated positive short-term and relatively long-term effects on the reduction of emissions from self-reported personal carbon footprint and a significant improvement on carbon footprint awareness6.

Building on this research, the question that begs an answer is: Can smartphone applications that assist individuals in calculating, monitoring and projecting their overall carbon dioxide generation trigger behavior change? This master's project theorizes that it can. According to a study published by the Nutritional Epidemiology Group on the effectiveness of smartphone applications for food intake tracking for self-monitoring weight management, smartphone applications can aid individuals in modifying behavior. The aim of this pilot study was to collect acceptability and feasibility outcomes of a self-monitoring weight management intervention delivered by a smartphone application, compared to a website and paper diary7. It proposed that smartphone tracking of food intake increased awareness of calories consumed. Dieters often utilize food diaries to track intake and manage calories. Replacing paper journals with smartphone applications is a natural progression of this habit.

The Nutritional Epidemiology Groups study involved three groups. Group one individuals who utilized a smartphone application to track calories lost an average of 10 pounds, group two individuals who utilized an online food diary lost an average of 6.5 pounds, and group three individuals who utilized a paper food diary lost 3 pounds7. The study also found out that the group that utilized the smartphone application interacted with the application at least once daily while group two and three interacted with their online or paper diary once per week. This study clearly indicates that smartphone applications can modify behavior based on the user's interest, priorities, and desires.

The Pearson Student Mobile Device Survey conducted in 2015 showed that 86% of college students regularly use a smartphone, 85% of them own one, 52% use only one mobile device on a typical school day, and 54% of them use learning applications on their smartphones8. With such a large number of students utilizing smartphones, there is an outright opportunity to take advantage of a behavior change smartphone application that allows individuals to educate themselves about personal carbon emissions. By including a tracking tool, an individual is provided with a way to monitor their own behavior thus reducing personal carbon emissions.

A recent search on the World Wide Web of possible smartphone applications dealing directly with carbon footprint tracking revealed a total of five applications currently available for individual purchase.

The five surveyed applications enable the following elements:

Tracking of carbon generation per activity: transportation, waste generation, and home energy usage.

Some applications are limited to only one of the carbon generation types: Transportation, waste generation, or home energy usage.

Some applications target non-United States countries; therefore, calculations and their associated results are different.

Only one application allows for a cross connection to social media to connect with other users.

None of the applications are connected to educational organizations, which would allow for class participation in projects reducing carbon emissions.

2.0 Objectives

Albert Einstein once asserted that problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them9. This Masters Projects objective is to design and develop a smartphone application mock-up for use by students, environmental professionals and concerned citizens. This application allows individuals to become familiar with and track their overall carbon dioxide emissions generated through everyday activities, and what actions can be taken to reduce the generated totals. For the purpose of this project, the key audience will be the test group utilized in the pilot study. This is further defined in the process below.

3.0 Design and Scope

The design of this application includes the following elements:

Tracking and calculating carbon generated from vehicle use.

Tracking and calculating carbon generated from residential energy use.

Tracking and calculating carbon generated from waste disposal.

Development of elements within the application to allow educators to track carbon totals for students and groups while setting goals and analyzing results.

Development of elements within the application to allow corporations to total employee carbon generation while setting goals and analyzing results.

Development of elements within the application to allow corporations to compete with other corporations by way of a Corporate Carbon Chal...

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