It ain’t easy being green: Hacking on Nike open data to make sustainability easier for designers

When it comes to materials, it’s pretty obvious that a something like polyester isn’t exactly gentle on the environment. But you know what’s almost as bad? Wool. That’s right. Good old sheep. Well, if you’re not right near them.

But how are apparel designers and furniture makers and other manufacturers supposed to know that? Well a little local apparel company called Nike is hoping to help.

On Saturday, May 19, Nike will be hosting a hackathon that gives developers and visualization types the opportunity to muck with the Nike Materials Sustainability Index, a collection of materials used in Nike products and those materials’ impact—or lack of impact—on the environment.

That’s right. Data on everything from “Should I use natural or synthetic material?” to “Just how bad is wool?”

Why? Well, it’s Nike’s hope that opening this data to the world—data they’ve spent a significant amount of time and money to collect, analyze, and categorize—will help developers find interesting ways to incorporate sustainability metrics into tools that help designers make better choices about the products they’re building. Or maybe even encourage some entrepreneurial types to build whole new tools that improve the way product designers choose materials.

Nike MSI is one of many approaches to evaluate the environmental sustainability of materials and the suppliers that produce them. We have created this forum to capture feedback and new ideas from users and reviewers.

We hope that releasing this framework and data will jumpstart a rich conversation within the footwear and apparel industry. Please participate with questions and comments regarding the value of our approach, ways to improve and build upon Nike MSI, data to populate new materials and a wider variety of supply chains, and the development of a centrally managed, open-source center of excellence that provides access to all.

But it’s not just apparel. It’s any product that uses a recipe of materials. Cars, bikes, airplanes, furniture, architecture… the list goes on and on.

It’s all part of the Nike Better World open data project, a pursuit that begin last year with a bunch of hackers that resulted in Nike hiring Ward Cunninghaminventor of the wiki—as their Data Fellow.

Well, Ward and his peers have been hard at work over the last year. Opening up that materials index data by providing access via an API is one of the results of that effort.

Sound interesting? I thought it might. And I’m sure you’ve already got some interesting ideas percolating about what could be done with that data. As with any hackathon, whatever you come up with is yours. Nike is just hoping the data inspires you to do something interesting. And if you come up with something groundbreaking? Well, it’s highly likely they’ll find ways to encourage you to keep working on it. *nudge nudge* *wink wink*

Besides. When was the last time you had a massive global corporation offering to let you hack on their data?

The event will be held at PIE on May 19 from around 9:30AM to whenever. During the day, Nike will be sharing details about the API, demonstrating a prototype app they’ve built using the data, and then setting folks loose to do what they will with the data. The team that built the API and the app will be on hand to help, as well.

To RSVP, visit Calagator or Plancast. For more on Nike’s efforts, see Nike Environment and Nike Better World.

Hashtags: #nikebetterworld #nmsi

  1. Well, I think this is pretty cool.

Comments are closed.