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The Dartmouth
May 28, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Undergrads, Tuck prof launch eco-mapping site

Corporate polluters may have a more difficult time hiding from the public, thanks to, a website created by a motley crew of Dartmouth students, a Tuck School of Business professor, and professors from Harvard and Duke, which shows every facility in the United states and the amount of toxins they emit.

The site, which incorporates the technology of Google Maps, is meant to be user friendly. It displays an overall map of the United States and, with the use of a few clicks and a search bar, zooms in on one's area or company of interest.

The project began two years ago, when Tuck professor Andrew King worked with the World Bank concerning building a company in Vietnam. The project was derailed when it was discovered that the mountain the company was tearing down was protected because endangered species lived there. No one, including local inhabitants, knew any of this information.

King thought that such information needed to be made public and accessible. Chris Hughes, who was hired to work on this project specifically, said that the website started out simply showing national parks and other protected areas around the United States, before developing into its current form.

The best possible outcome, according to King, would involve people putting pressure on the facilities and their legislature to become more environmentally friendly, increasing general public knowledge of what facilities are doing, and having the facilities themselves feel pressured to be more responsible.

"We've made publicly accessible data viewable to the public at large," said Evan Tice '09, who received a research fellowship to work on the project and was with the team from the start.

Tice wrote some of the original blueprints for the site, designed the system that allows the computer to pull up the information with each link, participated in discussions dealing with the site's development and designed its logo.

The team faced two years' worth of obstacles--a main one, according to King, being the name. For a long period of the time, the site was referred as Mapchemia, until feedback showed that people associated it with leukemia. King said he literally flipped through a dictionary until he realized "Ecos" the root of the word for Economy and Ecology was also Greek for house.

"It's a real thrill to see this tiny research computing staff and all the steps we've made along the way," Tice said.