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I want my ICT (… services, not technologies)

23 February 2010
I want my ICT (… services, not technologies)

By Molly Webb, Head of Smart Technologies, The Climate Group.

At the European Commission ICT4EE (ICT for Energy Efficiency) event, the main focus is smart cities, smart meters, smart grid and the ICT sector’s own forum for progressing methodologies to measure the sector’s impact (both how they contribute to emissions growth and efficiency).

We aren’t really speaking anymore about technologies, we are speaking about services. And if this is the focus, the sky is the limit. So why is there such uniformity of what I’m hearing from speakers in all sessions? ICT solutions in cities and smart meters are well understood. There are 2 floors of exhibitors showing off their research or existing solutions for energy efficiency in transport, buildings and power.

Does this mean that we are actually looking at a ‘mature’ market for ICT to enable energy efficiency?

I don’t think so. First, the standards (meters and smart grid, for example) are just being developed. Second, I don’t think we’ve begun to understand the many ways we can provide feedback to consumers about their actions, and allow them to take action in new ways.

Perhaps these would be like Bill Gates’ claim that with more computational power, we can speed up research projects (like those that would allow us to safely burn nuclear waste) for societal benefit.  Even recognizing that with today’s technologies we can solve climate change, we shouldn’t ignore the role of new services which ICT technologies can be used to provide.

Services in the future will take advantage of the information not yet online out in the physical world about our transport habits, energy use and ways of working. Demonstration pilots should be designed to look at the performance we want to achieve, and how we will develop the business models to achieve them.

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