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The Inefficient Truth

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The UK's first end user environmental IT board has commissioned a report on green IT issues.

Called The Inefficient Truth, the report will be produced by environmental charity Global Action Plan. Its scope will be defined over the next three to four weeks and it is expected to be launched in the House of Commons at the end of September or early October.

Chris Gabriel, head of solutions at ICT solutions provider Logicalis, which is sponsoring the group, told GC News: "The group is really not looking at technical products. Its remit will be to look at the operational impact of IT on the environment and how we can drive best practice through that. We would then look at, if we get our own house in order, what are the external factors that force us to do things inefficiently."

These influences would include European legislation on data protection and data storage, which can have a negative cost to the environment in terms of IT.

The group, which includes chief information officers and operational directors from a wide cross section of users, including the British Medical Association and the University of Cumbria, met for the first time on 18 July.

One of the issues discussed at the meeting was research that showed that many 13-17 year olds expect both more and richer content when at university. According to Gabriel, this would have an impact on the IT services that universities provide and their resulting carbon emissions.

He said: "The group wants to look at the reality of IT today and IT tomorrow and how in the future we alleviate the negatives and accentuate the positives in terms of its environmental impact."

The group also discussed government programmes, such as the ID card scheme, with Gabriel suggesting that the number of terminals and amount of data needing to be stored was not being considered from the environmental angle.

The report, he said, should help to provide some numbers and estimates on how such programmes – both in the public and private sector – will impact on the environment. Hinting at the type of questions the review could address, Gabriel said: "For example, if we could rationalise the number of data centres across local government, the NHS, and across the public sector, and reduce carbon emissions by 20 per cent, what would be the impact?"

Speaking in advance of the meeting, Trewin Restorick, director of Global Action Plan and chair of the board, said that advice on green IT issues currently comes from vendors and can be contradictory and confusing. "This green IT team will provide a forum to review vendors' advice and government policy, cutting through the techy and political jargon to give practical advice for creating a sustainable IT structure," he said.

Peter Ainsworth MP, shadow secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, also welcomed the project. "The role of information technology in all our lives is set to continue growing rapidly, and it is essential to develop a better understanding of its impact on climate change and the use of natural resources in order to minimise it," he said.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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