The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) wants to bring the Green credentials of the National Broadband Network (NBN) to the fore with its latest whitepaper that will be tendered to the Federal Government.
The industry group has released a whitepaper titled ICT’s Role in the Low Carbon Economy which covers recommendations to the Government on sustainability policies based on ICT initiatives and urges collaboration between major economic sectors.
The NBN’s important role in this year’s Federal election has pleased the IT industry.
CSC CTO and member of the AIIA, Bob Hayward, said discussions about the national network should now cover the environmental benefits as well.
“The broad consensus across all parties is that we need the NBN,” he said. “The question is, how fast should it be and who pays for it.
“When we look at talking about a cost-benefit analysis or what advantages there are to be gained from the NBN, what has not been talked about very much are the environmental sustainability implications.”
Hayward said digitising products and services across all industries bring on significant cost savings in a number of aspects including manufacturing, transport and logistics. An example of this is digital music distribution through platforms such as Apple iTunes.
But the NBN’s potential impact on sustainable IT goes far beyond saving on product distribution costs and carbon footprint.
“I think one of the problems we have when talking about the NBN is everybody seems to be obsessed with what we do with the Internet today rather that what will be done in the future with the NBN,” Hayward said. “Within 10 years of having an NBN, who knows what we will be doing with it; it could be very profound.”
He said this includes telepresence to reduce travel cost and emissions. This was despite Connection Research research director, Graeme Philipson, pointing out such solutions will only lower energy consumption by a paltry two per cent.
But what excites Hayward is the way businesses can employ the NBN to redefine business processes to become more environmentally friendly.
“If you look at some of the most interesting projects today in Australia that has a positive environmental impact using IT, it’s in some of our largest companies that re-engineer their processes around the Internet to remove paper from all their [day-to-day activities],” he said. “In the broader scheme of things, this is more important than having a Green datacentre, in terms of impact.”
Hayward does touch on implications the NBN will have on redefining the datacentre community.
He estimates there are about 350 reasonable sized datacentres in Australia which a vast majority of them close to or exceeding their used-by date.
“They are taking up expensive real estate as well,” he said. “I have customers that have servers with the best view of the Opera House than any hotel.
“We have reasonably inefficient datacentres that are drawing power from the national grid which in itself gets power from coal-based power stations.”
According to Hayward, the NBN would mean those facilities can be consolidated down to a couple of dozen larger, newer and subsequently more energy efficient datacentres powered by renewable resources.
“We can use optic fibre networks to leverage these consolidated datacentres and it is an example of what might be achieved through having the NBN.”
The whitepaper will be handed to Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, according to AIIA chief, Ian Birks.