By Anna Lynn Spitzer
Irvine, Calif., March 6, 2008 -- UC Day, an annual opportunity for faculty, students and staff to share the University of California message with state lawmakers, was held this week on the Capitol Building lawn in Sacramento. In keeping with this year’s theme – “Investing in Green Research and Solutions” – Calit2 representative Bill Tomlinson demonstrated his GreenScanner project, an online public database of environmental product information and opinions.
Tomlinson, assistant professor of informatics, built the site as a forum for consumers to evaluate and share their own information about a wide variety of products. He envisions GreenScanner becoming a virtual public meeting place, where shoppers can read comments about whether products are environmentally friendly.
After sharing the site and its capabilities every few minutes all day to a continuous flow of people, Tomlinson says he was encouraged by the crowd’s reactions. “Everyone seemed really excited about the project and said they would be interested in using it,” he recounts.
The several hundred attendees included technologists, educators, alumni, legislators and legislative staffers.
One of Tomlinson’s goals is to include an environmental impact report for each product on the site, he says, and the visitors’ comments helped him consolidate his ideas about how best to accomplish that. “My students and I have been discussing different ways to populate the database. Talking to a wide variety of people all day helped me distill down the options.”
Among those visiting the display and expressing interest in the site were UC President Robert Dynes and California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi. “I talked with Pres. Dynes and the lieutenant governor about all the great things going on at UCI, in the Bren School and at Calit2,” Tomlinson says. “The event was a good way to spread the word about all the Green research going on in the UC system and to allow UC researchers to talk to each other about their projects.
“Helping UC and Calit2 take a collective approach to environmental research can lay the groundwork for a global response to the world’s growing environmental concerns,” he adds.
Also representing UCI at the event were Calit2 partners the National Fuel Cell Research Center and the Advanced Power and Energy Program.