Data Shaming

Posted to on (week 2289).

You’ve probably heard that Cape Town, South Africa, is in danger of becoming the world’s first major city (in modern times) to run out of water.

Residents are not impressed with their government’s leadership through this problem. But there is one action they’ve taken that deserves attention—they’ve published a water usage map.

If the comment threads are any indication, people are concerned about what the map says about them. It can be hoped, then, that it has the intended effect of adding some self-consciousness to their water consumption.

This reminds me of the Tidy Street project and makes me wonder what other data we could use to shame our neighbors. Here’s some idea that may require some new sensor networks or only work at the block level:

  • AirBnB nights rented
  • Noise level
  • Amount of waste generated
  • Recycling percentage
  • Wi-Fi and other RF pollution