The EIF breakfast meeting on 11 November focused on the advent of the Copenhagen climate conference and the role of ICTs in helping to reduce carbon emissions. Two excellent speakers gave their vision on the future role of ICTs in climate control and energy efficiency.
Chris Tuppen, Chief Sustainability Officer at British Telecom and co-editor of the SMART 2020 Report talked about the role of ICT in realizing a de-carbonised economy, and Nicola Villa, Global Director of the Connected Urban Development Program at Cisco, who gave an overview of ‘Smart and Connected Communities’ through case studies of how cities in Europe are embedding ICTs to support sustainable urban infrastructure and planning.
Chris Tuppen of BT explained that for the ICT industry there are two angles to the discussion about carbon emission reduction. The first angle is the carbon footprint of the ICT industry itself. The second is the use of ICT to reduce carbon emission in other economic sectors. Mr Tuppen explained that the ICT sector is currently responsible for producing two percent of total global carbon emissions and is working hard to reduce this by a range of initiatives. These initiatives include virtualization in data centers but also ideas to decrease waste production by producing a universal mobile phone charger that can be plugged into any model mobile phone. These initiatives could reduce the carbon footprint of the ICT industry by an amount equal to current carbon emissions of the US or China. ICT can also create synergies to help other economic sectors reduce their carbon output. Using ICT applications in industrial processes, increasing the use of smart grids, or using ICT in buildings, logistics, and transport will have a major impact on decreasing carbon output over time. Such new technologies focus on transforming the way in which applications connect. Mr Tuppen concluded by advocating a holistic approach to the low carbon economy to ensure a sustainable framework.
Nicola Villa of Cisco then presented an overview of the Cisco Urban Connected Development program (CUD). CUD is a partnership between the cities of Amsterdam, San Francisco, and MIT (and new cities around the world who are joining the program regularly). The program focuses on the effect of increased connectivity on the life of citizens, and monitors its impact on mobility and transportation, energy efficiency, and urban planning. The overall thought behind the program is to see how energy efficiency and climate change initiatives can create economic development into local communities. Mr Villa mentioned a range of examples. In Amsterdam, Cisco developed a project to reduce traffic on the highways by creating smart work centers at the borders of the city that connect people via high speed internet connections; this allows workers to work from these centres instead of going to their offices in the heart of the city. Another example is a project in Madrid where Cisco connected buildings and apartments using ICT solutions to combine and regulate energy sources to increase energy efficiency.