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Urban EcoMap: It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Or is it?

Urban EcoMap: It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Or is it?

Posting in Cities

Smart Cities service lets urban residents check out the eco-credentials of their neighborhoods -- and those of their neighbors.

One of the first municipal services being developed through the Cisco Connected Urban Development program continues to be rolled out to communities beyond its initial pilot phases. I wrote about the intention for the group to start sharing more of its research back in this September SmartPlanet blog entry.

The Urban EcoMap is being pitched as a way for cities to help provide residents with a way to monitor the impact of carbon emissions in certain neighbors. So, in much the same way you might check out the schools in a neighborhood you might be thinking about moving to, you might use EcoMap to pull up data related to transportation programs, recycling efforts and available alternative energy resources. The service allows you to search by zip codes and you can compare districts. There's a social networking feature that lets you share ideas and observations with other residents.

The EcoMap covering San Francisco went live in May 2009 and the latest one covers Amsterdam, which is also looking at layering in additional environmental information from other municipal agencies. The Amsterdam EcoMap was developed via a cooperative effort that included the city of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Innovation Motor, Amsterdam Smart City and the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (a consulting division within the networking giant).

As additional EcoMaps are developed, you'll be able to compare your cities of choice. Right now, the only data you can see is for San Francisco and Amersterdam. For example, in San Francisco, close to 80 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions are associated with transportation, vs. just 30 percent in Amsterdam. On the other hand, energy in Amsterdam accounts for a much higher portion of its residential emissions as does municipal waste.

Where would you rather live?

The theory behind the service is that people are more likely to change their habits if they can see their impact. It also puts pressure on municipal governments to closely examine how to prioritize their own sustainability efforts.

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure