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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
Pocket Life Platform Comes to the U.S. with CO2 Footprint Tracking
By Susan Smith
Pocketweb, a company based in New Zealand, with subsidiary offices in Sidney and Berlin, announced that they are launching their Pocket Life platform in the U.S.
Pocketweb and Volvo have teamed up to deliver an updated version of their CO2 Reduction Solution Suite, “Commute Greener!” Based on the Pocket Life platform, Michael Heinzel, Managing Director of Pocketweb, said that Commute Greener! provides an interactive CO2 reduction solution suite for enterprises and large metropolitan areas.
“Commute Greener!” includes CO2 footprint-tracking tools that monitor and analyze users’ greenhouse gas emissions while encouraging them to set reduction targets based on weekly driving habits. Users can also utilize “Commute Greener!” integrated social networking tools to compare their performance with other users, challenge those in their network to reduce gas emissions, and provide alternate routes that encourage CO2 reduction.
The company consists of a small number of developers whose passion is location, according to Heinzel.
Initially the company developed with Vodafone a social networking app called Pocket Life with a strong focus around location. “We believe in location of users that is available at all times, that will change a lot of how people behave, meet, and act,” explained Heinzel. “We developed this social networking app with a twist around location, since location of the user or person is very sensitive, it is also very strongly focused on security.”
This Pocket Life app has been available for a couple of years now and Pocketweb has developed it into a platform they can use for other apps as well. “Our backend server is optimized to deal with location data, and make it available and collect it in a timely manner. It’s around what can you do with location,” said Heinzel.
Heinzel said everyone is trying to find the killer app for location, but the big step hasn’t really been taken yet.
Pocketweb has a couple of apps on the market and a couple more launching soon. One of those apps is the “Commute Greener!” app, which is an app where user can store and record their commuting to work behavior and try to reduce the CO2 footprint they have. They can also use GIS technology to really measure how much CO2 they make or save by using Commute Greener! The partnership with Volvo is aimed at bringing the application to corporate and large government organizations to give their employees an incentive to save CO2 and make healthier life choices.
The company is working on other apps that mainly focus on the location data of people. “One of the apps will have a bit less security, one will have a lot of security, so not even our service could read the location of people,” said Heinzel. “If you look at Latitude or what Facebook is doing with location, we believe a lot more security is required to make this usable for people. Some are very careful with their location data.”
Social Network Focus on Location
The idea behind Pocket Life was to have a social network that focused on location of people and focuses on the sharing of location between friends. “We believe it is the inner circle,” Heinzel pointed out. “On Facebook you can have thousands of friends, yet no one has thousands, so we call it the inner circle 'real friends' of maybe 5-10 people. You don’t want to share location with Facebook but you do want to share it with your few friends.”
Pocket Life allows you to define who your friends and family are. You can post photos to share with friends, family or inner circle. You might want to share different information with your colleagues, but your business address you might want to share with your colleagues and also status updates. For those differences Pocketweb has created different security layers, and everything deals with location.
Now Pocketweb owns all the rights to Pocket Life, as Vodafone pulled out of the deal before it came to market. Much of what Pocket Life offered is available on the market now such as the ability to geotag photos, but when Pocket Life was just getting off the ground, it was not readily available technology. You can post your own location, you can show your own location on maps, share favorites with locations, track your locations, record and show them, and share them.
On Mobile Devices
The application is available on the iPhone, Blackberry, and soon Android phones. It can collect other status feeds from other social networks as well as connect to LinkedIn, Plaxo, Twitter, and others. You can see all those status updates in one status feed called the TimeLine. You can share photos, favorite places, and the local search is based on where you are.
Mexico City is using Commit Greener! to group their employees. You can build your organization within Commit Greener! as your real organizational structure. “First of all, you collect what we call the baseline which is your CO2 footprint before people get engaged, which is your commuting behavior as it was,” said Heinzel, “Then people start saving by taking the train or walking or taking the bus or riding a bike. You can see how much CO2 was saved on a personal level, department level and then at the organizational level.”
The city of Gottenberg and a large organization in Sweden have recently signed up all their employees for this service. Some corporations try to better engage their employees by giving them money incentives for saving CO2 – that’s what Commute Greener! is targeted at. Companies can create marketing campaigns around various types of location applications that they develop. They could use the data that is posted from Commute Greener! for marketing comparisons. It can show how much money and CO2 was saved.
The API is currently closed, but Pocketweb is discussing with Volvo the possibility of opening the APIs around this functionality so developers can create their own applications, use the CO2 calculations mechanisms or the journey recording mechanisms. Heinzel said that we might see the Open API sometime in this next year. Pocketweb is also working with a University team in Sweden and have developed an API to the Commit Greener! app in order to develop a ride sharing app.