Our Ongoing Research Into Software Development for Climate Change

Climate change is a growing threat, adaptation and risk mitigation are needed. But, there are many obstacles to taking effective action to educate, adapt, prepare, respond, and recover. In 2019 we decided to see how software can help address these.

Climate Change Ecology Environment Global Warming
(Photo by Rawpixel.com, Shutterstock ID 613099715)
Climate Change Ecology Environment Global Warming (Photo by Rawpixel.com, Shutterstock ID 613099715)

What prevents individuals from effectively preparing for Climate Change?

We set out to investigate if there is a need for a solution that gives citizens personalized help preparing for and recovering from climate change impacts and lets trusted authorities assist them and report on their results.

We first wanted to identify the top communication problems that might prevent citizens from taking effective action on climate change risks.

We did this by conducting primary and secondary research, using a mixed-methods design to integrate quantitative and qualitative data.

First we randomly surveyed Canadian citizens using an online poll, to better understand their level of awareness of climate change action and readiness to act if assisted by a software tool. Then, we validated our theory about the communication gap problem by conducted interviews with 114 Canadians across all provinces and territories via Zoom. The interviewees included officials from the three level of government, faith-based organizations, business people, NGOs, and ordinary citizens.

Our initial findings

Our greatest overall finding was the willingness of citizens to take responsibility and use climate change impact platform to help themselves, their neighbors and community plan for, mitigate and recover from climate change disasters. We also confirmed that software solutions can be built.

We've compiled the initial high level findings of our research project and are sharing it under a permissive open content license, so you can view and distribute it for non-commercial purposes.

The scale of the problem was too huge for us to explore further...without help

Our initial research efforts showed us how vast the technical and non-technical hurdles might be. In order to better identify and understand these, we needed a way to research and explore, at scale.

So, we decided to enlist students and academic institutions in the project. We connected with them through Riipen, an experiential learning projects platform that links students and employers. By creating topic-based mini research projects, we have been successful in tapping into the enthusiasm, knowledge, and innovative ideas of students around the world (over 140 students in 25 academic institutions, and growing).

To ensure these activities would eventually lead to practical results, we began to develop an overall software prototype platform we call the Climate Change Impact Platform (CCIP). This provides an overall framework within which we and our collaborators can explore various concepts and ideas, At first ideas are examined at a high level, sometimes they evolve to building mockups and prototypes, and in the most advanced cases we have created working tools and web applications.

CC12 Mockup - Incentivize individiuals to take action using gamification
CC12 Mockup - Incentivize individiuals to take action using gamification