The App Challenge project that Rodrigo discusses below can be viewed from his team’s profile on the ECCE GitHub website:

Participating in the ECCE App Challenge for the first time is something that I am going to remember for years to come. My team, The Four Mapsketeers, is composed by graduate students in Geomatics Engineering at the University of Calgary. We all wanted to join this competition to see what we would be able to achieve and how far we would go given the extremely limited timeframe.

With themes revolving around sustainability, it was intricate to lock on a single idea, as the concept of sustainability is fairly broad. After spending the first couple days of the competition week discussing different ideas and use cases, we decided to start building our app: sustainABILITY. The City of Calgary is our home, so we decided to create an application for Calgarians which has the potential to empower citizens to make changes in their life and to help create more sustainable communities.

Recognizing the importance of sustainability, The City of Calgary has developed sustainability strategies and goals. The first being the 2020 Sustainability Direction Report, which outlines the city’s sustainability tactics to make the city sustainable now without compromising future generations and their needs. The second is incorporated into Calgary’s Municipal Development Plan (MDP). The MDP outlines 6 city-wide policies for making Calgary a sustainable city:

  1. Prosperous economy;
  2. Shaping a more compact urban form;
  3. Creating great communities;
  4. Urban design;
  5. Connecting the city;
  6. Greening the city.

The goal of sustainABILITY is to bridge the gap between Calgary’s city-wide policies and its citizen engagement. We believe that sustainability is subjective, so it can be defined in different terms by different individuals. This application allows the user to define what sustainability means to them on their own terms and evaluate the communities in their city based on their definition. We believe that greening the city, connecting the city, and city compactness are areas that individuals can have the most impact on by making achievable changes in their lives. These aspects are the focus of the application.

The four main use cases of sustainABILITY are detailed in the following subsections.


Community Sustainability Evaluation

The community sustainability evaluation feature allows you to view the relative sustainability of communities within The City of Calgary. The sustainability of a community is based on categories derived from Calgary’s Municipal government plan. The chosen categories are “Green the City”, “Connect the City”, and “Compactness”. The goal of this feature is to allow you to view Calgary’s communities through the lens of sustainability, to see which communities are effectively addressing sustainability, and which have room for improvement. While the city has its own definitions for sustainability, we recognize that each citizen will have their own priorities and opinions on which aspects of sustainability are most important to them. Therefore, we allow you to choose which metrics are the most important to you. Each criterion, and each evaluation metric, has an associated slider in the app, letting you choose its impact from 0-10. You are able and encouraged to choose how much impact each component has on the final evaluation.

Sustainable food

A garden can be utilized for growing produce, even in Calgary’s cold climate. Food grown in a local garden can be shared across a community or used personally. Food produced in these gardens travels right from garden to table, rather than being shipped from British Columbia, California, or further. This reduces the amount of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) released into the atmosphere by reducing the distance that the produce needs to be transported. In addition to GHG emission reductions, there is a potential for saving money on groceries, by replacing some of those with the crops grown in a personal garden. We encourage all users to test out the effects of adding gardens to their neighborhood or residence. Even if you live in an apartment with little room for greenspaces, there might be room on the roof!

Sustainable transport

Using alternate forms of transportation that are less harmful to the environment can have a significant impact on the carbon footprint of your community. This section of the app allows you to see your potential savings from switching up your routine for getting to work. Simply select your home and workplace using addresses or pins. Next, input your car mileage in L/100km and select the number of days a week you plan on taking alternate transit. Finally, you can select the ‘calculate savings’ button, which will tell you the GHG emissions offset and cost savings over a week, month, and year.

Sustainable housing

One of the biggest planning issues regarding the development of the built environment that Calgary has to deal with is urban sprawl. This is when the city continues to grow outwards instead of becoming denser as people move to the city. This section of the app allows you to check if the property you own has one of the possible land use designations to allow for the creation of a secondary suite.


If you want to know more about how our app works, how we defined sustainability metrics, or which datasets were considered, you are more than welcome to check our project on the ECCE GitHub website: