The Brief

The Client

The Islington Council declared a climate emergency in June 2019, setting the goal of Islington becoming a net zero borough by 2030. 

The climate crisis is happening now. As much as we need big businesses to take responsibility for their actions, we also need local businesses and residents to understand their actions have consequences, and that we can each take accountability for what we have control over.

Islington Council agreed their net zero strategy in November 2020, which you can read more about here. The council is committed to their goal, and came to us with this project as a way to help engage, inform and mobilise residents and businesses of Islington.

Our Solution

By first analysing existing carbon calculator tools we quickly realised that simplicity was essential for success. We started by considering the different types of users that this tool was aimed at – a pretty big range considering it’s the whole borough! – and came to the conclusion that the tool had to be quick to use. If it took too long to complete, or it was too complicated to understand, users were likely to become bored and the bounce rate would be high. Whether a user was accessing the calculator from a desktop, tablet or mobile, users were not going to use a clunky, time consuming tool.

The calculations were provided by the council. We then applied these to the quiz in order to direct users through their specific journey. Some answers impact which questions users see. The same logic has been applied to suggested pledges. For example, users who do not own their properties do not receive the suggested pledge to ‘Get a heat pump’ as they will likely not have the authority to change this.

Instead only pledges that apply to the user are shown, giving them a range of possibilities to choose from when pledging to reduce their carbon emissions in Islington. They can always come back later to update the status of their pledges, take on new pledges or retake the quiz if their situation has changed.

The Tech

We knew we could meet this brief best using Javascript. We decided to use a Node.js backend and a Nuxt.js / Vue.js frontend. We used these frameworks in particular as they allow for quick interactions for the end user, as everything is rendered on the client side. This means that when a user tries to move through the user journey, they are not met with long waiting times – everything happens instantly.

We knew familiarity would help simplify the user experience. We created a fairly generic user interface for the quiz, whereby each question has its own view. The user could move backward or forward through the quiz as necessary.

We build the ability for returning users to find their previous pledges and suggested actions so they could keep themselves accountable. With the number of accounts we all have set up nowadays, we know it’s a chore to remember all of the usernames and passwords in our ever-growing list. To make things easier for users, we decided against creating a login and instead we provide users with a unique ID, which can be emailed to them if forgotten. This unique ID is how users can update their status and mark pledges as completed.

Going on

Time is running out and the world is starting to engage with the climate crisis. Policy makers are being urged to make changes, and we the public are taking more accountability for our actions than ever before.

The more users this tool gets, the more data the council will have to report on, informing how policies should be changed or proposed in order to be net zero by 2030. With better reporting, we can all better understand how to go reduce our borough’s carbon footprint , and eventually our nation’s!

Councils in London and around the country could all benefit from a tool like this. If you’re a local authority or council and you’re interested in this tool, you can contact us at hello@outlandish.com. If you’re a concerned member of the public, why not ask your council to get in touch with us.