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Reports and studies :: ICT for Societal Changes

ICT for Societal Changes

15 November 2013

The objective of this session was to present the challenges and the way they should be solved to make cities smarter.

Chair: Dave Carter.
Speakers: Florian Bauer, Marc Erlich, Clara Pezuala, Mirko Presser.

The chair of this session - Dave Carter – presented audience with the main topic, speakers and the rules of this session. First presented speaker - Mirko Presser from Advanced Technology Institute – talked about technology and how nowadays no one can escape it. People today do not communicate each other, but they are only using digital space. The most important question for the speaker currently: should people get ready for the technology or the technology should be ready for people?

The speaker provided two examples of projects which turned cities into smart cities: Santander and Aarhus, they became smart through several interactions through open minded people and citizens. The challenge is to make technology and sensors useful for the people. Santander started without money, platforms and services, but could rely on partnerships to create innovative smart cities.In contrast, Aarhus had monez, platforms and services available, but needed to build partnerships. Both avenues were successful in achieving the objectives.

Second speaker was Florian Bauer: he raised attention to one of the biggest environmental risks in cities – transport, which is responsible for a large part of gas emissions. Projections of future gas emissions show a warning increase. He also raised the attention about open data and how they can be used to analyse the economic impact of cities, and to provide tools for better, more efficient planning. Open data can thus contribute effective solutions to cities’ problems.

Third speaker was Clara Pezuela from Atos, presenting concerns related to ICT carbon emissions. The ICT demand is increasing on computational capacity. Cloud computing will be able to meet with this demand. We shouldn’t underestimate the ICT carbon footprint to the environment. ICT companies are aware of this impact. There are several metrics useful for measuring this impact, as the total facility consumption and the carbon usage effectiveness. Today this is one of the most widely used metrics to measure server utilization and computing performance. The main problems related to understanding ICT environmental footprint are the lack of transparency and the lack of sufficiently robust metrics for evaluating environmental and economic impacts.

Fourth speaker, Marc Erlich, thought that people’s perception of risk is insufficient, partly because of a highly engineered environment. During environmental crisis people often do not act rationally. It is challenging for ICT to contribute to better understanding of risks, also because education may not be doing as much as it could in this area. A major challenge for the future will be the validation of individual inputs into social networks in a way that latter can be genuinely useful for society.

Afterwards, the lead chair and the speakers answered some audience questions and involved them through open questions as well as via an online poll. Most of the audience supported more information flow in the smart cities, would encourage governments to publish more of the open data that they have, support companies to invest more into IT sustainability, and believe that they don’t have sufficient information on their risk exposure in their local environments.

Session organizer: Marton Haraszti