Fit for Green Blog

Is there room for fitness-generated electricity in open government?

Posted on March 25, 2013

Over the last month I’ve been spending my spare time studying the US Open Government Initiative.  I’ve also looked further into the Health Data Initiative (HDI) and Energy Data Initiative (EDI), also being driven by the US government.  My opinion is that these concepts are terrific!  They are efforts to share as much government based data as possible.  The hope is to make data accessible to the public so that they can act on and/or propose ideas that improve the country.  If successful, these efforts will help the government tap private industry to assist them in getting seemingly untenable issues in check.

I’ve worked in the software industry for a long time and I once saw a similar concept used in private industry at a large California based company.  Like most large businesses, this business that I was working with had a Chief Technology Officer (CTO).  CTOs don’t typically get involved in decisions on specific software and this CTO was no different.  What she did care dearly about was the vendors that her organization partnered with to provide the software.  She cared that her vendors were partners that would help her and her managers achieve their goals.  Every few years she would bring in vendors that could potentially help her to meet her technology based business goals.  In these meetings the vendors spent an entire day getting inundated with data on the organization’s initiatives.   The ask from the company was for the vendors to prepare a presentation on how they could help her company meet its initiatives.  It was like a vendor Olympics where only a select few out of the many would take home the gold.  There was a big risk for this CTO to share all of her data with a bunch of vendors but in doing so she was able to hear hundreds of proposed solutions to her challenges and in the end she was able to select the best in class which is similar to what the government is looking to achieve.

Under the right circumstances Fitness-generated electricity could really help us to draw the public into these government initiatives.  It certainly seems like a useful overlap for HDI and EDI.  If the government was this CTO I referred to above, I would tell her I could help her by shedding new light on two of her very biggest issues; energy conservation and obesity.  This could be done by using fitness-generated electricity data to form data or OLAB cubes that have both fitness tracking metrics and energy generation metrics.  Pivots by gym, city, state, even country are all very possible.  You could use the data to see where your concentrations of fitness enthusiasts and energy creators are.  In any company business  intelligence initiatives focus on what people call actionable data.  Which is data that can be used to effect and measure change.  This data would certainly fit that bill when it comes to health and energy.

Lots more to come on this. I want to start looking at this from other perspective.  These are a few interesting ones that I’ll probably be diving into in the coming weeks:

  • If the government knows what the baseline fitness levels are for a region what can they do to raise those levels?
  • How useful is a baseline for cardiovascular fitness?
    • Does standardization on the energy produced from a workout increase the value of the data?
    • Can we make the standard of measurement one that could be subject to checks and balances that would ensure it is accurate and somewhat tamper proof?
  • How can we make people care more about conservation of energy through fitness?
    • Will people appreciate power more when they understand the work that goes into creating it?
  • Will people feel better about working out if they are helping themselves and the environment?

Probably a good time to stop.  Would love to hear some thoughts on this if anyone finds this even remotely as interesting as I do.  Obesity and clean energy are battles we’re going to be fighting a long time.  Can data from fitness-generated electricity be the artillery we use in those battles?

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