Belong, an Australian broadband and mobile data provider owned by telecommunications giant Telstra, has recently launched a new app designed to help users track their “carbon thumbprint”. Revealing to users the carbon emissions of mobile data usage, the company says that the new app aims to encourage individuals to pursue more informed and deliberate everyday choices to minimise their environmental impact.
The Carbon Thumbprint App is an augmented reality platform that uses data modelling to calculate the size and effect of each individual’s personal carbon footprint stemming from their mobile data usage. It has been developed by Belong, the Telstra-owned telecommunications company that is the first in Australia to gain carbon neutral accreditation.
Currently, it is estimated that mobile data networks in Australia account for more than 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually. With the app, users will be able to reconsider the carbon footprint of their data usage, track how different online functions contribute to their “thumbprint” and see the difference between various telecommunication providers and whether these are powered by renewable energy or have implemented offsetting measures.
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure. The carbon emissions associated with the mobile data we use – our ‘carbon thumbprint’ – have been hidden from us until now,” said Leanne Boyd, brand and strategy lead at Belong. “The new app enables Australians to estimate their carbon thumbprint in a matter of seconds, and then easily neutralise it by changing to a telco that does it for them.”
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. The carbon emissions associated with the mobile data we use – our ‘carbon thumbprint’ – have been hidden from us until now.Leanne Boyd, Brand & Strategy Lead at Belong
While many factors contribute to our personal environmental impact on the planet, from our dietary choices to transportation, our online activity and data usage is a lesser known source of carbon emissions that is set to rise dramatically as our world becomes increasingly digital – especially amid the coronavirus pandemic, with more of us working and communicating online than ever before,
According to a recent survey conducted by market research firm BlissPoint for Belong, a whopping 92% of Australians do not believe that mobile data is a significant contributor to carbon emissions.
However, upon further realisation of the impact of data usage on their footprint, around 40% said they were willing to switch to a carbon neutral telecommunications provider, with 62% saying that the coronavirus was a major motivator to take climate action and prevent future environmental and health disasters.
A number of other carbon calculators have emerged in recent months to help users track the footprint of their digital usage, from internet surfing to online movie streaming. French think tank The Shift Project, for instance, have launched Carbonanalyser, a browser extension that lets users see the climate impact of their individual internet activity and compare it with emissions generated from other sources, such as smartphone charging or driving.
British company Wholegrain Digital, on the other hand have developed a carbon calculator that lets businesses, charities and organisations see the carbon intensity of their websites, and identify the design features that can be changed to reduce the site’s footprint.
Aside from figuring out one’s individual “thumbprint” from data usage and switching to a carbon neutral provider, individuals can also take other actions to minimise their digital emissions. While opting out completely from the internet or devices may be near impossible, small changes include adjusting power settings and blocking online data tracking to save energy.
Lead image courtesy of Belong / Unsplash / designed by Green Queen Media.