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Sustainable Development: The Role of Information and Communication Technology. Alexander Schatten KORSD Oct. 2009. Agenda. Information & Communication Technology – Environmental “Footprint”. Mitigation. ICT supporting. Adaptation. ICT for Teaching and Public Awareness.

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Sustainable development the role of information and communication technology

Sustainable Development:The Role of Information andCommunication Technology

Alexander Schatten

KORSD Oct. 2009


Information & Communication Technology –

Environmental “Footprint”


ICT supporting


ICT for Teaching and Public Awareness

Ict environmental footprint
ICT – Environmental “Footprint”

Photo from ezioman (flickr)

  • Resources

    • Consumption

    • (Electronic) Waste

  • Energy Consumption

    • “Green IT”

    • Resource Efficiency: “A Factor of 10”

    • Desktop Computing

    • Data-Centers and Services

    • Software as a Service

    • Cloud Computing

    • Accounting

  • ICT as “amplifier” ofunsustainable behaviour

Ict and resource consumption
ICT and Resource Consumption

ICT is consuming significant amounts of valuable resources

Many resources are scarce or produced under questionable conditions

Valuable are mostly not recycled

“Recycling” is done in developing countries

Companies need to invest into recycling-friendly product (“cradle-to-cradle”)

Having the whole product-lifecycle inmind at design-time

Avoiding toxic substances like mercury,PVC, flame retardants

Having recycling programs in place

Allowing easy dismantling of products

Example mobile phone coltan
Example Mobile Phone: Coltan


Most important

source for Coltan & one of largest conflict-regions in the world

Coltan:Columbite Tantalite

Mineral that is used in a broad range of electronic products

Example microprocessor
Example: Microprocessor

Production of a Microprocessor

In the 80s

~ 12 Chemical Elements


~60 Chemical Elements!

Photo by Aranya Sen (flickr)

Electronic waste eu
Electronic Waste (EU)

1/3 treatedappropriately


Photo Greenpeace

Treatment of Electronic Waste within EU.

Numbers from EU Commission (2008)

Photo digitalsadhu (flickr)

Global population energy
Global Population & Energy

Population Growth

Energy Consumption

Source: Energy Information Administration (U.S. Government): International Energy Outlook 2009

Source: UNO: “The World at Six Billion”

Green it numbers
Green IT – Numbers

Source: McKinsey and Company, part of a report titled "Revolutionizing Data Center Efficiency”,Malone, C. and Belady, C. (2006) Metrics to Characterise Data Centre & IT Equipment Energy Use. Proc. Digital Power Forum, Richardson, TX, USA, September.InfoWorld, Ted Samson (2008)Smart2020 Report

Borderstep Institute

Sustainable development the role of information and communication technology

Energy Consumption & Carbon-Footprint byComputers (Examples) (incl. power consumption & embodied energy, data centers, PCs, network devices)


2004: 28 million metric tons CO2(Air Traffic 22MT)


2010: 10% of total energy consumption

830 million metric tons CO2


equals 2% of global carbon footprint

assumed to quadruple by 2020

“Some Computer Science Issues in Creating a Sustainable World”, Jennifer Mankoff, Robin Kravets and Eli Blevis, IEEE Computer Magazine (2008)Data from “The Climate Group”, OECD, Presentation 2009 from Klaus FichterPhoto from jmsuarez (Flickr)

The power of 10 game consoles
The Power of “10”: Game Consoles

Playstation 3Xbox 360

~ 200 W

Playstation 2

~ 50 W

Nintendo Wii

~ 20 W

The power of 10 pcs
The Power of “10”: PCs

PC with CRT

~ 150-250 W

~ 100-200 W

PC with LCD

~ 50 W

Thin Client with LCD

~ 10-45 W



~ 2 W

Photos from Flickr: Gene, Plutor, John Pastor, One Laptop per Child

Data centers and services
Data-Centers and Services

“Hummer Strategy”

… or Virtualisation,Cloud Computing

and Software as Service?

Photo from Paul Keleher, Flickr

Green it virtualisation and in house services
“Green IT”: Virtualisation and In-House Services

  • Datacenter In-House

  • Replace Volume Servers with varying utilisation or low utilisation with virtual machines running in one power-server

  • Remove Fat-Clients where not absolutely necessary and replace them with thin-clients and web-applications or thin-clients using remote desktops

  • Provide support for tele-working (virtual private networks…)

  • Get consulting for “green” operation of data-center including issues like:

    • Optimising Facilities

    • Highest possible operation temperature

    • Reuse of heat (e.g. for building/office heating)

  • Better: get rid of all services that can be outsourced (see following slides)

What is cloud computing
What is Cloud Computing?

  • Cloud computing is theIT equivalent of the Energy Grid

    • Rent services and computing power as needed

    • Use Cloud Computing to scale as needed

  • Typical “Cloud” Services

    • Operation of Virtual Servers (e.g. Amazon EC2)

    • Network storage solutions (e.g. Amazon S3)

    • Database Services (e.g. Amazon SimpleDB)

    • Application Runtime Environments (e.g. Google AppEngine)

    • Middleware Services (e.g. Amazon Message Queue)

    • E-Commerce Applications (e.g. Payment Services)

    • Various Services (e.g. Zoho Office …)

Amplifying unsustainable behaviour
Amplifying Unsustainable Behaviour

  • Rebound Effects

    • More efficient steam engines  higher coal consumption

    • More efficient cars (“Prius”)  cheaper per kilomerter  higher mileage

    • More efficient production (“Tata cars”)  much more cars on the street  higher overall consumption

  • Enabling Effects:

    • Modern logistics:

      • Flights become cheaper  more travel

      • Transportation becomes more efficient andcheaper  transport over greater distances

  • Unplanned Effects:

    • More Communication does not lead toless travel, the opposite is true

Photo by photohome_uk (flickr)


Information & Communication Technology –

Environmental “Footprint”


ICT supporting


ICT for Teaching and Public Awareness

Why ict

E.g. UPS: Left-turns no longer allowed!

Photo by iirraa (flickr)

Because optimisation opportunities will emerge, that you never might have thought of!

Why ICT?

The flat world
The Flat World

  • Thomas Friedman, ”The world is flat”

  • We move(d) from

    • Command and Control to

    • Collaborate and Connect Economy/Society

  • 3 Billion people reach for the western lifestyle

    • It is impossible to fulfil this demand with the current approach

  • Economy, knowledge, work-force, natural-resources are global issues

Sustainable development the role of information and communication technology

In a flat world and a connected economy there are hardly local problems

Any significant problem in a country like Indonesia, India, China or USA…

is immediately a global problem.

Example indonesia the economist 2006
Example Indonesia: local problemsThe Economist (2006)

  • Indonesia is losing almost 2m hectares of forest a year (an area about the size of Wales or Massachusetts)

  • Illegal logging also carries big costs for the human beings involved. Well-managed forests continue to provide wood, and therefore revenue, indefinitely. But those that have been overexploited, or simply carelessly run let alone razed will yield little or no money in the future.

  • The government of Indonesia (which has the world's third-biggest tropical forests, after Brazil and Congo, but the biggest timber trade) estimated its annual losses at around $3 billion. [due to illegal logging]

It as a supporter for mitigation efforts
IT as a Supporter for local problemsMitigation efforts

  • Green Supply Chains and E-Government – Think Global!

  • Smart Production

  • End-to-end Accounting (e.g. Life Cycle Analysis, Input/Output Calculations)

  • De-Materialisation

  • Smart Buildings

    • “If airplanes were build like buildings, you wouldn't fly in them”, Stephen Selkowitz”, LBNL

  • Smart Grids

    “Although the ICT sector’s own emissions will rise as global demand for products and services increases, these are estimated to be five times less than the emissions that can be reduced through the “enabling effect.”, Smart 2020 Report


Possible contributions in different fields smart 2020 report
Possible Contributions in Different Fields (Smart 2020 Report)

Taken from Smart 2020 Report

Green global supply chains
“Green” Global Supply Chains Report)

  • “Measure and Connect” is foundation for optimisation

    • Technologies like

      • RFID

      • Event-based Systems

      • Data-warehouses

  • “Tag and Track” items through whole supply chain

  • “Trash that Thinks” (Saar and Thomas, 2003)

  • Work with (near) real-time data

  • Standardisation (usage of standardised protocols and practices)

  • Integrate with e-Government applications to enhance transparency and better resource and waste management

  • Check whether suppliers from second and third world countries follow policies

  • Global optimisation of supply chains (from supplier to production lines to transportation to customer)

Industrial production
Industrial Production Report)

  • Industrial Production is one of the largest contributors to global emissions (Smart 2020 report):

    • approx 23% total emission in 2002

    • Uses nearly 50% of global electrical power

  • Modernise development of production lines; software development, simulation, data exchange is outdated compared to “business information systems”

  • End-to-end monitoring of production lines

  • ICT systems allow transparencyand accountability

  • Optimisations in motor systems

  • Integration into globalsupply-chain optimisation

  • Be aware of rebound effect(s)!

Picture from ralphbijker (flickr)

Impact of dematerialisation
Impact of “Dematerialisation” Report)

  • Replace paper-based business with electronic business

  • Online Media

  • Reduce business travel

  • Tele-Working

  • E-Commerce

  • E-Government

Taken from Smart 2020 Report

Degradation of biodiversity
Degradation of Biodiversity Report)

“Devastating declines of amphibian species around the world are a sign of a biodiversity disaster larger than just frogs, salamanders and their ilk, according to researchers from the University of California, Berkeley.”, Science Daily

"There's no question that we are in a mass extinction spasm right now," said David Wake, professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley.

"Amphibian declines may be the window into the future of what we can expect as humans continue to alter the environment on a global scale. Only now are government officials finally willing to acknowledge that humans have caused so much damage to the environment that they are even affecting global climate change.”

Vredenburg et. Al, 2007

Photo by Adolf Schatten

Climate change
Climate Change Report)

“The observed increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) since the preindustrial era has most likely committed the world to a warming of 2.4°C (1.4°C to 4.3°C) above the preindustrial surface temperatures. The committed warming is inferred from the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates of the greenhouse forcing and climate sensitivity. The estimated warming of 2.4°C is the equilibrium warming above preindustrial temperatures that the world will observe even if GHG concentrations are held fixed at their 2005 concentration levels but without any other anthropogenic forcing such as the cooling effect of aerosols. The range of 1.4°C to 4.3°C in the committed warming overlaps and surpasses the currently perceived threshold range of 1°C to 3°C for dangerous anthropogenic interference with many of the climate-tipping elements such as the summer arctic sea ice, Himalayan–Tibetan glaciers, and the Greenland Ice Sheet.”

Ramanathan and Feng, "On avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system: Formidable challenges ahead", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, Vol.105, No.38 (2008)

Photo by hAdamsky (flickr)

Ict supporting adaptation
ICT Supporting Adaptation Report)

  • Environmental Information Systems (Biodiversity Research, Sensor Networks, GEOSS, ...)

  • Connected global information systems and models

  • Low-carbon-intensive technologies: e.g., more efficiency and search for alternatives (transparent supply chains, dematerialisation of workspaces)

  • Support in case of catastrophes like

    • robust dependable and communication technology

    • Visualisation

    • Geographical information systems

  • Simulation and modeling adapted to certain regions e.g.

    • Tourism prediction in Austria

    • Water level rise

    • Development ofagriculture

Resilience Report)

Allenby, B., Fink, F. 2005. Toward Inherently Secure and Resilient Societies, Science 309: 1034-1036

  • Our global ICT infrastructure has to be given more consideration

  • Communication in case of unreliable parts of the infrastructure or attacks

  • “Economic Crisis” showed global-dependencies leading to “Domino-Effect”

  • Centralisation vs. De-Centralisation vs. “Local-Pooling”

  • Dependency Analysis & Management

  • Mid-Term and Long-Term Benefits overShort-Term (Cost) Benefits

  • Open Systems vs. Closed Systems

  • Developing Countries

  • R&D, and company strategies should targetnot only performance and price but alsoresilience

Photo by mactent (flickr)

Agenda Report)

Information & Communication Technology –

Environmental “Footprint”




ICT for Teaching and Public Awareness

Teaching and public awareness
Teaching and Public Awareness Report)

  • Climate change, many environmental problems,resource depletion are

    • Global issues

    • Highly connected systems

    • Depending on many parameters and hence

    • Very difficult to Understand and Communicate

  • Tools are needed to enhance the understanding of the systemic nature of such problems, particularly for

    • Teaching purpose

    • Public awareness

    • as Political Instrument

  • IT can provide experience in modeling, visualisation, game development to provide such tools

Video game makes you think
Video-Game: “Makes you Think” Report)

Taken from

Game operation climate control
Game: “Operation Climate Control” Report)

Taken from

Game operation climate control1
Game: “Operation Climate Control” Report)

Taken from

Conclusion Report)

  • Despite of environmental impact of ICT, clever ICT strategies can help to reduce much more emissions than it will produce

  • ICT Footprint: “direct” front-lines

    • Efficient IT (Green IT)

    • Target/Demand oriented IT (Cloud Computing, SAAS, ...)

    • Dematerialisation effects

    • Resource consumption and treatment of electronic waste

  • “Amplification Effects” by ICT

  • IT as enabler for efficiency measurements in other fields

    • “Measure and Connect”

    • “Green Supply Chains”: Global Optimisations, E-Government

    • Certified Processes

    • Smart Houses, Grid Optimisations, Production Automation, ...

  • ICT supporting Adaptation (sensor networks, environmental monitoring, modelling, search for alternatives...)

  • ICT for “public awareness”, teaching, politics, ...

Large yet unexploited potential of ict for sd ict people welcome interdisciplinary projects

Dr. Alexander Schatten Report)

Senior Researcher: Vienna University of Technology

IT Consulting | | alex_buzz (Twitter)


Large Yet Unexploited Potential of ICT for SDICT People Welcome Interdisciplinary Projects