Thursday, October 23, 2008

Australian Green ICT National Teleconference

Today I peddled from my home office to Deacons, in the CBD of Canberra, to take part in a national teleconference on Green ICT. This was initiated by the newly established Australian Computer Society Victorian Branch Special Interest Group on ICT Sustainability (ACS Green ICT Sig for short). The Victorians invited their Canberra and Queensland counterparts, along with others groups, such as Computers Off, to discuss how to make computers more environmentally friendly. It seemed appropriate that we used a video-conference in place of air travel.

The history of this initiative is that in 2007 the Australian Computer Society commissioned Australia's first national ICT carbon audit. This estimated that Australian computers and telecommunications were responsible for a similar level of greenhouse gas emissions as the civil aviation industry. In response to this, the ACS Canberra Branch formed a Green ICT SIG to see how members could address the issue in their own work. The ACS Queensland Branch formed a more ambitious initiative some months later looking at how to address the issues throughout the industry and globally. Most recently, the Victorian branch formed a Sig. It seemed timely for us to compare notes on what we had done and what to do next.

Apart from the ACS several other groups, including AIIA and Computers Off are working in the area. This creates the problem of coordinating or work so we don't waste effort or cause confusion. One of the responsibilities of being a "professional" is that the community looks to you for guidance. We therefore need to consider what to tell the government and the community and not confuse them with conflicting messages.

Apart from my general interest in Green ICT, I had a specific interest, in that I had been previously commissioned by the federal Environment Department to write a strategy for emergency saving for personal computer and laptops in Australia. Recently the ACS asked me to write and run a Green ICT e-leaning course for postgraduate training of ICT professionals. The ANU has asked me about energy saving on the campus and my aim is to have the course offered in blended mode at ANU in 2009/2010.

In 2008 Professor Garnaut recommended a 25% reduction in emissions by 2020. Sir Peter Gershon, recently recommended the Australian Government develop a whole-of-government ICT sustainability plan to manage the carbon footprint of the Government's ICT activities.

The issue we have is how can the ICT industry address these issues to reduce its own carbon footprint and help with sustainability generally, especially through training?

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