In October 2020, OVO held a hackathon to design and develop solutions which will drive progress to zero carbon living, in keeping with our sustainability strategy Plan Zero. Groups of colleagues came together to work in virtual teams for 24 hours as they developed ideas which could have an impact in the real world.
One of the suggested solutions came from Energy Sparks, a partner of OVO Foundation’s Climate Changers programme. Energy Sparks have an online, school-specific energy analysis tool and education programme which helps schools become more energy efficient and fight climate change. They suggested that a hackathon team could develop a school transport calculator for pupils to record how they and staff travel to school.
A group of hackers rose to the challenge! In just 24 hours they designed an initial carbon-busting ‘School Travel App’ which has a simple user interface allowing the children themselves to carry out the research. After some further development, pupils from Freshford Church School near Bath were able to test the app on families arriving at the school gates. An impressive 82% of pupils were surveyed – a huge improvement on a similar paper survey in 2019, which received a 46% response rate.
Trialling the app on a typical Friday morning, then repeating it the following Friday on the school’s ‘Green Travel to School Day’, the pupils recorded inspiring results. The percentage of pupils arriving by car decreased from 56% to 27%, with the number travelling 5 minutes by car reduced from 29 to just 3. This had a significant impact on carbon emissions.
But the app isn’t stopping there – there’s plans for more widespread testing across Bath and North East Somerset in spring 2022, coupled with a ‘Schools Green Travel’ campaign by Energy Sparks.
Huge well done to the OVO hackers for turning the initial idea into a reality and helping children and parents on their journey to becoming more green. We can’t wait to see where it goes next!