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UCL's text messages help Londoners go green

From farmers’ markets in Blackheath and safe cycling classes in Lambeth, to film workshops in Camden and recycling projects in Hackney, there is a wide range of activity scheduled to take place during London’s Sustainability Weeks (3rd – 17th June). To help people keep up to date with the ‘green’ events that are being arranged in their neighbourhoods, academics at UCL (University College London) have created a free text-messaging service to which people can subscribe in order to receive personalised, targeted information.

London 21, a network of 1,500 grassroots community groups and individuals, is coordinating activity during the fortnight and aims to build on the success of last year’s festival which saw more than 500 public events taking place across London, helping to create a greener, healthier and more sustainable city.

Hanif Rahemtulla, UCL Department of Geography, has been leading the cross-disciplinary team which designed the text messaging service. “There are going to be all sorts of things taking place in June; everything from school concerts and organic food fairs, to pond dipping and conservation projects,” said Hanif. “Our job has been to make it as easy as possible for people to tell us what kind of event they’d be interested in, and then let them know whenever something is organised in their neighbourhood.

“The text messages are available to anybody with a mobile and they are driven by postcode data. This means we can accurately target the information that is sent out so that people are told about the things happening around the corner from them. The database is very flexible, so if you just want to be told about things that are happening at weekends for example - we can do that. And we can also let you choose how many messages you receive - as many or as few as you like.”

The text messaging service is being sponsored by UCL’s Graduate School and the Departments of Geography and Geomatic Engineering. This means it is completely free of charge, with no hidden costs.

“Achieving sustainability at the local level is an essential step towards sustainable development on a global scale, which is why these events are so important,” said Chris Church, Chair of London 21. “It’s great for us to have such innovative support from UCL because it enables more people to get involved. This is a significant development because it’s the first time that we’ve been able to deliver practical information about how people can make a difference to the environment directly to them through their mobile phones.”

David Weston | alfa
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