Sustainable ICT is Both Efficient and Resilient

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.

The earthquake/tsunami itself wrecked considerable damage on Japan's ICT infrastructure and services. The Fukushima-induced electricity crisis made matters worse and continues to influence the country's thinking about new ICT projects. You can read my post covering a year of impact on Japan's ICT.

Sandy's impact ICT seems to have been much less, so far, but there have been enough problems to raise the bigger issues in America's ICT community.

I've long been skeptical of the simplistic equation of sustainable ICT with efficient ICT. Disasters are yet another area where an overemphasis on efficiency falls short. Contemplating Sandy and ICT, blogger Bill St.Arnaud writes, "Energy efficiency, or measuring energy consumption is irrelevant if you are sitting in the dark without power."

It is not an "efficient versus resilient" choice, though. The growing energy-efficiency of ICT is exactly what is making it increasingly useful in situations with marginal power availability. That is why I been tracking years what is happening with creative ICT deployment in developing economies, from solar-powered ICT labs in shipping crates to renewable-energy fueled mobile base stations. Field microgrids for ICT, which can switch among varying power sources, are another example of resilient technologies for developing areas that could be integrated in our more sophisticated -- and more fragile -- ones. You can see posts about all these and others by clicking on the "dev-econ" tag, above.

Green ICT is sustainable ICT. Sustainable ICT is efficient, resilient, and more!