Posts Tagged ‘Low Carbon’

Low Carbon Computing

November 24, 2009

What will computers be like in 2020, or even 2050? Given the rapid pace of innovation, predicting the future of technology is notoriously difficult, but one thing we can be sure of is that it will use less energy. Thanks to rising concern about climate change there has been an astonishing level of interest over the last year or so in investigating ways to develop computers, displays, printers, data centres and other technology which use less energy. And the pace of innovation will only increase.

I’ve been busy in the last few months as a co-author on a major new report for JISC. The “Low Carbon Computing” report, published today, looks at how ICT can be made more energy efficient. The report takes as it premise the UK’s Climate Change Act and maps a future for computing which is framed by the CCA’s targets, processes and frameworks. By 2020 the public sector will be expected to have reduced its carbon levels to 30% less than it used in 1990. It is a ‘big ask’ and ICT will have a major role to play.

How to achieve these kinds of cuts? The sociologist, Anthony Giddens, is quoted in the report as saying we have to “Season policy with a dash of utopian thinking”. In this spirit the report covers a very wide range of emerging ideas and technologies varying from simple behaviour changes (switch off your PC when you’re not using it, for god’s sake!) to radical suggestions such as switching data centre equipment to run on DC power alone (more efficient to run from renewable sources). Along the way the report takes in a wide variety of interesting new ideas such as thermal energy harvesting, hydrogen fuel cells and nano data centres. We’ve deliberately looked at a long time period and the report presents a first attempt at a Low Carbon ICT roadmap for up to 2020.

The full report’s a bit of a beast at nigh on 80 pages, but there is a 5-page executive summary for the lightweights among you.


Pioneering a low carbon future with Enterprise Architecture

August 8, 2009

It’s been a busy August so far, putting the finishing touches to a report on Enterprise Architecture (EA) which has just been published by JISC TechWatch.

EA is a strategic management technique which aims to align business strategies and goals with information systems. The process involves mapping out both the current situation within an organisation, what’s termed the ‘as is’ and then laying out a vision for the future, the ‘to be’.

It has been in use in the commercial world for a decade or so, although it is new to the education sector. The report synthesises the results of a year-long pilot project by a group of pioneers who looked into the day-to-day practicalities of introducing this technique into the higher education institutions. In particular they looked at the use of The Open Group’s TOGAF method for this kind of work.

The report comes to a number of conclusions, but I think the most interesting relates to the potential for the technique to be used to help the sector move to a low carbon future. As the report makes clear low carbon ICT is an area of activity that is strategically conducive to the EA approach as it needs long-term planning within, and possibly between, institutions. Work is already underway in the sector on the feasibility of shared data centres and the introduction of EA can only help these initiatives.

The report’s called Unleashing Enterprise Architecture and you can have a look at a PDF of the report on the JISC TechWatch website.

Oxford dining

March 21, 2008

My brief sojourn to the dreaming spires was completed with a day at the Towards Low Carbon ICT conference. A series of academic and business speakers explored issues around developing and procuring ICT equipment that saves energy and uses less of the world’s resources in its manufacture. All this will be useful as I gear myself up to begin editing JISC’s forthcoming report on greening ICT.

In the true spirit of the occasion, the conference lunch was officially described as consisting of “fair trade, organic, local produce and, where possible, open source, food.” I wasn’t quite sure which parts of the lunch were open source – I suppose it must have been the dishes made to recipes that have fallen out of copyright – but it seemed to go down well with the attendees.

This eco-lunch was extremely tasty, but I have to confess was trumped by a business lunch I had had earlier in the week at Raymond Blanc’s Brasserie Blanc: the tarte citron was sublime. However, my Bed and Breakfast establishment won first prize for the most unusual meal of the week – they had the following on offer for breakfast:

Marmalade Omelette.