In the age of #occupy insert location here, it can be easy to think of our government as bloated, slow-moving, and reluctant to respond to its people’s needs (at best). But, every once in a while, our federal republic does something that’s smart and close to cutting-edge — such as offer a bevy of useful, interesting mobile apps and websites.
Here’s a rundown of our favorite green and car-related smartphone apps and mobile sites (plus a couple we just think are awesome) direct from good ol’ Uncle Sam.
This handy little site is a veritable must-have for drivers with rides powered by anything other than fossil fuels. Using Google’s handy mapping service, it can help you find the 5 closest refueling stations boasting biodiesel, electricity, E85 (ethanol), hydrogen, natural gas, or propane.
And as a mobile site, this tool works on any Internet-capable mobile phone.
This mobile site helps you find fuel economy data for cars of model years 2012 back to 1984. It also provides info on the new fuel economy labels (you know, those giant window stickers you see at the dealership) and can track your car’s actual mpg (the data on those fuel economy labels are estimates, after all). You can even get a list of simple tips on how to optimize your fuel economy.
This site works on any internet-capable mobile phone too, but if you have a smartphone, you can navigate to it just by scanning the QR code on those new fuel economy labels.* Handy if you’re car shopping this season!
For the green at heart
A nifty tool for nature lovers and anybody who’s ever thought, “I wonder what kind of tree that is,” Leafsnap can help you identify tree species from pictures of their leaves. Plus it’s chock-full of high-res photos of trees and their various parts. A collaboration between Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution, the app is available for iPad® and iPhone®. It only has Northeastern trees at present, but will soon branch out to other parts of the country!
Another handy one for green-sceners, the mobile version of the Environmental Protection Agency’s website offers access to their blog and tips on how to lead an eco-conscious life. It also offers bonus apps, which can help you find real-time air quality info, improve air quality in your own home, and learn more about your local environment.
The informed driver
At Esurance, we’re all about making things smarter, and what could be smarter than keeping up-to-date on what’s going on with your government? The White House app will ensure you’re never out of the loop on the president’s latest moves. This one’s available for iPhone®, Android™, and as a mobile site.
Think you just don’t have the time or funds to visit the Smithsonian? Wrong! This mobile site can help you explore 5.4 million records with 460,000 images, video and sound files, electronic journals, and other resources. Just. Awesome.
The government offers lots of useful apps, so check out the rest of the collection to find your personal faves. While we weren’t able to extensively test all of these apps, they sound pretty cool and pretty promising. So test, explore, be smart. And if you know something we don’t, hey, let us know on our Facebook Wall.
*You’ll need to have a QR code app on your phone to take advantage of this functionality.