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 Friday, November 25, 2011
ITU Green App Challenge - Meet the developers! (#4) - Interview with Mr Praneel Raja

The first ITU Green ICT Application Challenge sought to uncover  innovative concept papers for climate change related ICT applications. ITU announced the Challenge’s winner and papers deserving special mention at the Green Standards Week held in Rome, 5-9 September 2011. The event was supported by BlackBerrry and Telefonica.

One of the challenge’s finalists, Mr. Praneel Raja from India, developed a concept for an application entitled, “Mobile App to Use a Vehicle to its Fullest Capacity.” The goal of this mobile application is to improve efficiency in the transportation sector by making sure that vehicles are used to their full capacity. The app provides a forum where users can request a ride in a vehicle with vacancy, travelling the same route as the driver. The overall result of the application would be a reduction of GHG emission by decreasing the number of vehicles on the road. 

We approached Praneel to discuss the inspiration for his concept and his experience with the challenge. Here is what he had to say.

[Question] Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.

I am a student at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, pursuing a post-graduate degree in Computer Science.

[Q] How did you find out about the ITU Green ICT Application Challenge?

I came to know about it when the Research Affairs Secretary of our institute forwarded the email about the challenge to the institute’s students.

[Q] Why did you decide to take part in the challenge?

I have always been interested in issues related to climate change. The contest was also during my summer vacation, which gave me the time I needed to begin developing my application.

[Q] Have you developed an app before or was this experience new to you?

No, it is the first time I have done anything like this.

[Q] Was the application that you presented something you’ve been working on for a long time or did you develop the app for this challenge?

This app had been an idea of mine for some time. This is however the first time I’ve taken action and brought all the pieces together to create a functional, useful app.

[Q] How did the development of the app take place?

I am developing the app as a part of my Course Project in IIT Madras.

[Q] What was your biggest challenge when designing the application?

The safety and security of the app’s users was definitely the biggest challenge in its design. Without trustworthy safety mechanisms, people would be reluctant to use the service.

[Q] What was your motivation behind developing an app to combat climate change/promote sustainability?

The motivation was to help build a transport system where people could get from A to B carrying only their mobile phones. Where did your inspiration for this application come from? I have noticed that most vehicles on the road are more than half-empty. More efficient use of the world’s vehicles could both increase the number of people able to access automobile transport and reduce the number of cars on the road. This is a win-win scenario for social welfare, as access to transport rises while carbon emissions decline.

[Q] What other activities are you involved in to help fight climate change and promote environmental sustainability?

I am an ambassador for S-NET (Sustainable Network development), a student initiative at the institute, and I am responsible for promoting sustainable development on the institute’s campus.

[Q] What do you expect from this application in the future? Are you planning to further develop it?

Yes, I plan to develop it further. I think this app has great potential and I would like it to become a viable, trustworthy transport alternative.

[Q] What is your advice to developers wishing to create apps to help combat climate change/promote sustainability?

y advice is to be as practical as possible – make sure that the solution is actionable, and that it can be of real value to the majority of the population.

To find out more about Mr. Raja and his activities, contact him via ITU by sending an email to climate@itu.int. Meet the rest of the winners and relive the ITU Green Application Challenge by accessing http://www.itu.int/ITU-T/climatechange/greenict/index.html.

For more information about the ITU’s activities on climate change visit www.itu.int/climate.