Updates from Africa and the Middle East. Click here for regional Green ICT updates from around the globe. Click on 'Africa-ME' tag above for all news about the region.
A March 2013 report by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation says, "In sub-Saharan African, up to 70 per cent of medical equipment available is not used. In one third of cases, insufficient power supplies are to blame." The article also cites lack of spare parts and damage transporting the gear on poor roads. These are issues for all types of tech gear in developing areas, not just for medical equipment.
Is the shipment of used ICT to developing areas an example of environmental and economic sustainability by extending equipment lifecycles and making tech available to those who cannot pay market prices for new gear? Or is it a patronizing position that suggests older tech is 'good enough' for some people and that exacerbates these regions' e-waste problems. This issues has similarities to one from 35 years ago.
We report on the environmental activities of ICT gear manufacturers because their footprints become 'embodied' in the gear we use and thus become part of our footprints. Apple's environmental behavior got off to a slower start than some others and the company still has a way to go, but it has definitely moved into the top tier for issues like embodied carbon and hazardous substances. I was very pleased to hear Apple rebuff demands from an investor to dial back its environmental activities.
Traditional ICT facilities consume as much energy cooling their gear as powering it the first place. One solution is to re-use the waste heat. Our latest example is Equinix's AM3 data center, which heats water for a nearby university.
Handling our gear's heat has always been an issue for installations large and small. ICT equipment typical took 1x-2x again more energy to remove its heat as it took to power it in the first place (PUE of 2.0+), driving both energy costs and carbon footprints. Early efforts focused on the two obvious tactics: make both the ICT gear and the air conditioning more efficient. We now see these augmented by innovative new approaches to the problem, ranging from seawater cooling to variable-speed fan retrofits.
We estimated in 2013 that 18 billion devices were attached to our global ICT infrastructure. We recently saw an estimate of 50 billion for 2020. What would the path to 50 billion connected devices look like?
The Triple Bottom Line (3BL) concept links three aspects of sustainability: economic, environmental, and social. It is sometimes easy to lose track of economic sustainability in our enthusiasm for the other two. The failure of a Euro/African project bringing solar-based ICT to Gambia is a real-world reminder.
The convergence of multiple lines of Green ICT inquiry is a sign of Green ICT progress. We have covered the growing use of fuel cells to power ICT facilities and the advancement of DC distribution inside the data center. A recent demonstration brings these two concepts together to improve energy efficiency and reliability.
Upcoming Green ICT conferences and workshops around the world. We just added a 2014 event in Dresden, Germany. We have also included links to past conferences to aid your search for Green ICT materials.
Quiz: Which region has the most Green ICT conferences?
We are constantly on the lookout for ICT-intensive communities who appear under-engaged in global Green ICT awareness. More active participation from these communities could do much to advance ICT sustainability. We identified American higher education and global ICT4D advocates as two communities where more effective embrace of Green ICT has significant potential. Console gamers comprise another such community.