Open Science Behind Closed Doors: Empowering Citizens to Use Their Private Data for Decision-making
Associate Researcher at the Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research, University of California, Santa Barbara
Life cycle analysis has become an essential concept in society's response to climate change. While there’s some controversy over who should shoulder the responsibility for environmental damage, there’s substantial interest in being able to estimate environmental impacts accurately and attribute them to specific consumption decisions. The techniques required for making these estimates are too complex to be readily employed by non-expert users. Therefore, interpretive tools such as online "footprint calculators" have become increasingly common. These tools allow non-expert users to estimate the environmental impacts of their consumption decisions.
A footprint calculator works by connecting a user's information about their consumption with a database of environmental impact information. Contemporary footprint calculators face several design challenges. It can be difficult to ensure the usefulness and accuracy of the provided results and to safeguard the privacy of a user’s information. In this research project, "Open Science Behind Closed Doors," Kuczenski is developing a computing framework that addresses both of the challenges highlighted above by bringing transparency to the computer models that are used for estimating footprints. His work will increase the likelihood that consumers can obtain information about their consumption decisions that’s both useful and accurate and doesn’t compromise their privacy.