Vir­tu­al and sus­tain­able

10 ter­abytes of data pass through the cen­tral Euro­pean Inter­net exchange node — per sec­ond. This cor­re­sponds to CO2 emis­sions of 1,400 kg or a 100 km car jour­ney. Data con­sump­tion harms the cli­mate.

The man­u­fac­ture and dis­pos­al of dig­i­tal devices also cost resources. At the same time, our every­day lives are shift­ing more and more into vir­tu­al spaces. We work from our home offices, buy tick­ets via apps at bus stops, and stream music and movies for all they’re worth. High time to think about sus­tain­abil­i­ty and dig­i­ti­za­tion togeth­er. The good news is that as much as tech­nol­o­gy is fuel­ing cli­mate change, it can mit­i­gate it with its own resources. Gov­ern­ments and indus­try are work­ing togeth­er on IT solu­tions to make dig­i­ti­za­tion more ener­gy effi­cient. You too can con­tribute by reg­u­lat­ing your data and resource con­sump­tion. We have some tips for you and also show you how you can be dig­i­tal and cli­mate-friend­ly with Wat­ti­fy.

Inno­v­a­tive IT for the envi­ron­ment

How can we reduce our eco­log­i­cal foot­print while enabling peo­ple to live well in the present and in the future? This ques­tion is dri­ving IT devel­op­ers around the world. One cru­cial idea is net­work­ing data struc­tures. The more infor­ma­tion we gen­er­ate and make usable between actors and machines, the more autonomous and effec­tive their process­es become. For exam­ple, so-called smart meter­ing” opti­mizes our ener­gy sup­ply. Intel­li­gent con­trol sys­tems col­lect data on how much elec­tric­i­ty is need­ed and adjust ener­gy gen­er­a­tion accord­ing­ly.

Mak­ing our liv­ing space more cli­mate-friend­ly is a fun­da­men­tal trans­for­ma­tion. This extends from pri­vate house­holds to entire cities. That’s why urban plan­ners are using every area of the urban pub­lic realm to make data-dri­ven improve­ments. The poster child for such a smart city is Barcelona. In the Cata­lan metrop­o­lis, sen­sors inte­grat­ed into the streetscape pro­vide infor­ma­tion about ener­gy con­sump­tion, air qual­i­ty and noise lev­els. This has enabled the city to mod­ern­ize pas­sen­ger trans­port and sup­ply chains, for exam­ple. The remark­able thing about Barcelon­a’s mod­el is that it is demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly designed. The admin­is­tra­tion offers the col­lect­ed data to cit­i­zens on open-source plat­forms for free use. This enables every­one to be more aware of their con­sump­tion and to help shape the tech­no­log­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion of their city.

Anoth­er inter­na­tion­al exam­ple of a sus­tain­able, dig­i­tal infra­struc­ture is Taipei in Tai­wan. There, the focus is on automa­tion. Elec­tric vehi­cles pay for their charg­ing inde­pen­dent­ly via cryp­tocur­ren­cy thanks to the algo­rithm devel­oped by a Berlin-based com­pa­ny. Ger­many also wants to dri­ve ener­gy-effi­cient mobil­i­ty dig­i­tal­ly. In Munich, access to pub­lic trans­porta­tion is pos­si­ble via a sin­gle app. The com­bined data struc­ture not only pro­vides online tick­ets and timetable infor­ma­tion, but also offers rental bikes, car shar­ing, vir­tu­al park­ing tick­ets, and even mon­i­tor­ing of per­son­al ener­gy con­sump­tion.

The more cli­mate-friend­ly use of dig­i­tal sys­tems in cities is far from all that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and indus­try are work­ing on. The tech­nol­o­gy need­ed for dig­i­ti­za­tion must also be inte­grat­ed into a sus­tain­able pro­duc­tion cycle. How can indus­try reduce mate­r­i­al require­ments and cut green­house gas emis­sions dur­ing pro­duc­tion? How can the end con­sumer use a dig­i­tal medi­um in the most ener­gy-effi­cient way? And how can pol­i­tics help ensure that we can reuse used mate­ri­als? We all have a respon­si­bil­i­ty in this cycle. Here are a few sug­ges­tions for you on how you can make your own every­day life in our dig­i­tal soci­ety more sus­tain­able.

We work from our home office, we buy tickets via app at the bus stop, stream music and movies, and much more.

Tips for sus­tain­able use of dig­i­tal media

1. con­scious surf­ing

Sure, spend­ing less time on the Inter­net would help. But you can also reduce the vol­ume of data that comes up by opti­miz­ing your use of vir­tu­al con­tent. Instead of stream­ing videos, you could down­load them and watch them offline. Low­er res­o­lu­tion saves extra ener­gy.

For look­ing up how to cook spaghet­ti or spell cor­rect­ly, green search engines are a great option. Not only are they sus­tain­ably oper­at­ed, they often pro­vide more data secu­ri­ty.

Also, clean up your email inbox. Every saved mes­sage costs the servers that host them elec­tric­i­ty.

2. mon­i­tor con­sump­tion

Do you actu­al­ly know how much ener­gy your dig­i­tal devices use every day? Whether you’re at home with your smart TV or on the go with your cell phone, know­ing your ener­gy usage can help you reg­u­late it bet­ter. Apps that show you this data can help.

3. recy­cle your hard­ware

Your smart­phone con­tains rare earths and oth­er raw mate­ri­als. Their sup­ply is exhaustible. Not to men­tion the high ener­gy con­sump­tion and poor work­ing con­di­tions under which they are extract­ed. It makes sense not to let your old devices gath­er dust in a draw­er, but to hand them in to recy­cling cen­ters or elec­tron­ics stores. This way, their com­po­nents can be recy­cled or reman­u­fac­tured as a whole. In addi­tion, it’s worth buy­ing refur­bished” devices that have been repro­duced as a result.

4. use sus­tain­able apps — for exam­ple, Wat­ti­fy.

If you need two or three apps for two or three appli­ca­tions, the more elec­tric­i­ty it will cost you. If you need only one for mul­ti­ple apps, you save elec­tric­i­ty. The Wat­ti­fy app works on this prin­ci­ple. Here you can invest, man­age your invest­ments, and get your returns — all in one. Your data is secure and trans­par­ent for you. Togeth­er we can save resources with inno­v­a­tive tech­nol­o­gy. With Wat­ti­fy, your invest­ment is mapped on a cli­mate-neu­tral blockchain. So you can be sure that there is no addi­tion­al envi­ron­men­tal impact. The Wat­ti­fy app gives you all the infor­ma­tion you need about your favorite renew­able ener­gy projects, as well as access to the Wat­ti­fy com­mu­ni­ty. This is where you meet the peo­ple for whom impact and invest­ment go hand in hand, just like sus­tain­abil­i­ty and dig­i­tal­iza­tion.

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