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.
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.
Microgrids - small electricity generation and distribution networks - are becoming an increasingly common way to support ICT in remote areas. What distinguish a true remote ICT microgrid from a locally-powered remote piece of ICT gear like a base station? A microgrid is an integrated network consisting of one or more power generating systems, storage, control electronics and a diverse load. Imagine interconnected solar PV and with diesel generation backup powering not only that base station but also a community charging station for phones and tablets and a school's wireless router. To the extent that ICT microgrids support a significant proportion of renewable generation, they contribute to Green ICT and help bring urgently-needed sustainability to ICT4D. Here is a look at the big picture. Future updates will include implementations.
GSMA's Global Mobile Awards' Green Mobile Awards are for "mobile industry organisations that are focused on the reduction of environmental impacts through eco-friendly, innovative policies, products, programmes or initiatives, as well as organisations outside of the industry that utilise the mobile platform to communicate, innovate or drive eco-friendly programmes, services and initiatives." Here's a look at the 2009-2013 winners and at the trend toward greener mobile base stations.
Click on the 'education' tag and you'll see examples of Green ICT being applied by primary and secondary educational institutions around the world. This post will add more examples in the form of regular updates. Our latest update is about Green Power in American schools.
TV Whites Spaces (TVWS) are portions of the broadcast spectrum that, depending on your perspective, either are valuable unused frequencies or are usefully buffering against adjacent channel interference. The potential for TVWS to deliver wireless services is a major controversy in the United States between the wireless community and the broadcast community. Microsoft and Google are both using Africa to demonstrate the viability of delivering connectivity via TVWS with projects launched in early 2013. Microsoft launched another white spaces project in late 2013.
The Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011 and its tsunami had a huge impact on the country's ICT infrastructure, much of which is still being felt by businesses and consumers. Here is an update on the information and insights we have collected about data centers, communications networks, e-devices, and other ICT topics.
Global consulting company Accenture announced in March 2013 that it "…has been awarded a contract to create the strategic plan to help develop the University of Aizu Revitalization Center. The plan includes construction of a technology lab on the university campus as well as support for projects focused on rebuilding Fukushima as a technology leader. Accenture’s plan calls for the lab design to begin this year, with construction expected to be completed in the spring of 2015. When completed, the lab will feature a next generation data center, an efficient, high-performance center that will consume about 40 percent less electricity than traditional data centers." Telecom Asia notes that "The Revitalization Center was established to aid recovery of the area following the [earthquake]." A September release from Accenture announces that the company has been awarded a contract work on the design the ICT laboratory, itself.
Here we track gear for consumers and small businesses seeking ICT resiliency. This is a wide range of ICT-related gear suitable for areas or situations lacking reliable grid power. Our latest is a portable stove uses twigs for fuel to cook and to charge a smartphone.
In an ironic turn of events, the e-waste being reprocessed in China is coming home to us through imports. This includes lead1 in our food.
Two Green ICT threads have converged in the natural disasters of Japan's earthquake/tsunami and America's hurricane Sandy. One is how energy-efficient gear, infrastructures, and practices can contribute to more sustainable ICT. The other is how efficient ICT can combine with renewable energy sources to deliver education, medicine, and other basic services to areas with little or no dependable electricity. From this converge comes a vision of sustainable ICT with is both efficient and resilient.