AMEE — The World’s Energy Meter

Gavin Starks, the man behind AMEE — the Avoiding Mass Exctinction Engine — is back at XTech this year. The service was launched at XTech in Paris last year.

Data providers have been added in the last year, including the Irish government. There’s also a bunch of new sources that are data mined. There are plenty of consumers too, including Google and change.ie from the Irish government. It’s cool to have countries on board. Here’s Edenbee. Yay! Gavin really likes it. The Carbon Account is another great one. But Gavin’s favourite is probably the Dopplr integration.

AMEE is tracking 850,000 carbon footprints now. That’s all happened in 12 months. There are over 500 organisations and individuals using AMEE. That’s over 500 calls to Gavin’s mobile number which he made available on the website.

Gavin describes AMEE as a neutral aggregation platfrom. The data is provided from agencies that can license or syndicate their data. This data is then used by developers who can build products and services on top of it. So AMEE is, by design, commercially enabling to 3rd parties.

Gavin says they are trying to catalyse change. They want to create a standard for measuring carbon emissions. To a large extent, they’ve achieved that. Even though there are lots of different data providers, AMEE provides a single point of measurement. The vision is to measure the CO2 emissions of everything. That’s a non-trivial task so they’ve concentrated solely on doing that one thing.

AMEE has profiles for your carbon identity and your energy identity but both are deliberately kept separate. The algorithms for energy measurement might change (for example, how carbon emissions from flights are measured) but your carbon identity should remain constant. This separation allows for real data portability e.g. integrating your Dopplr account with your Edenbee account. AMEE takes care of tracking energy but they don’t care about who you are: everything is anonymous and abstracted. It’s up to you as a developer of social apps to take care of establishing identity. There’s a lot of potential here, kind of like Fire Eagle; a service that concentrates on doing one single thing really well.

They’re partnering on tracking technology. For example, tracking Blackberries and using the speed of travel to guess what mode of transport you are using at any one time.

AMEE has a RESTful API that returns XML and JSON. They also provide more complicated, Enterprise-y stuff to please the Java people.

There are different pricing models. Media companies pay more than other companies. Charities pay nothing.

What’s next? AMEE version 2; making it easier for people to engage with the service. In the long term, let’s go after all the products that exist. Someone has that data in a spreadsheet somewhere — let us get at it.

Why do all this? Why do you think? Does anybody really need to be convinced about climate change at this stage? There will always be debate in science but even senior conservative scientists are coming out and saying that they may have underestimated the impact of carbon emissions. If a level of 450ppm continues long enough (and that’s the level we’re aiming for), that’s a sea rise of up to 75 metres. That’s an exctinction level event. We might well be fucked but as Stephen Fry says:

Doing nothing risk everything and gains comparitively little, doing something risks comparitively little and gains the whole world.

Here’s where AMEE comes in: if we can measure and visualise energy consumption change, that will drive social change. In the long term we will have to completely re-engineer our lifestyles and re-invent the power grid. Shut down power stations, shut down oil platforms, reduce all travel …measure and visualise all of it.

We don’t just need change; we need a systematic redesign of the future. We could start with the political language we use. Instead of using the word “consumer” with its positive connotations, let’s say “waster” which is more accurate.

What will you build? www.amee.cc

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