How technology companies can tackle the problem of pollution

Earth

The world’s largest environmental movement Earth Day, encourages all people and organisations to take action to help our planet recover from the damage humans have caused and protect it for future generations.

This year, the day focuses specifically on ending plastic pollution, which is currently causing severe damage worldwide. Technology companies have as much responsibility as anyone, and in this article, we hear from five technology experts on how their industry can, and should, do more to save the earth we all inhabit.

Tim Arnold, head of colocation at Six Degrees says, “We’re constantly being made aware of the impact our human actions have on nature and the planet. The IT sector is a contributing factor. Specifically, it is estimated that data centres have a faster growing carbon footprint than any other area of the IT sector, which as a whole generates up to 2% of global CO2 emissions. In response, the European Code of Conduct for Data Centre Energy Efficiency programme was established in 2008 to improve understanding and awareness of energy demand within data centres, and recommend energy efficient best practices and targets.

As a member of this programme since 2016, we are committed to reducing the environmental impact created by our data centres and aspire to lead the charge for other data centre owners to make this a priority. So this Earth Day, step back and look at the wider picture – at Six Degrees, we cannot emphasise enough the importance of protecting our planet.”

“On World Earth Day we stop to think about the environment, and the impact technology is having on the natural world. At a time when cryptocurrency fever is taking off globally, it’s easy to forget the hundreds of thousands of crypto-specialised computers and servers ‘mining’ these currencies into circulation,” explains Barry Shteiman, VP of research and innovation at Exabeam.

He continues, “It’s estimated cryptocurrencies use as much CO2 per year as one million transatlantic flights. Many believe we should take it seriously as a potential climate threat. Less obvious is the hidden threat to businesses. Malicious actors – looking to offset this massive energy consumption – are now targeting corporate networks, often seeking to hijack an entire connected infrastructure to develop a distributed crypto-mining operation. In fact, we see a range of hacking toolkits adding mining modules today to maximise on their malicious business efforts.

Crypto-mining operations could be running within your organisation’s network – draining vast amounts of energy – without your knowledge.

IT teams need to be vigilant. The best thing to do is look for anomalies in your electricity bill. You should also measure changes in your HVAC usage for heat dissipation, although this will be more difficult.”

“Beyond that, look for sudden changes in capacity or usage, as well as significant deviations in pattern and velocity. The best approach to detecting irregular network behaviour is using an emerging technology called entity analytics. This automates detection by baselining normal machine behaviour and highlighting the anomalies. Deviation from these benchmarks may be an indicator of capacity abuse, and will the best marker of malicious cryptomining activity on your network.”

Marianne Calder, VP EMEA at Puppet, agrees that organisations need to take this perspective, “At Puppet, we strongly believe that it is essential to look at the bigger picture. By taking part and hosting a variety of activities that support the wider community and environment, the team is brought together in support of one unifying cause – taking care of the world we live in and making it greater for generations to come. This year, on April 22nd, many of our team members in EMEA will be focused on how to #EndPlasticPollution.

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“On Earth Day 2018 we should all be thinking about protecting the natural world and combatting climate change – activists and tech companies alike,” advises Chris Powell, CMO at Commvault. “At the turn of the year, Robert Swan, founder of the 2041 Foundation, gathered a group of explorers (of which I was one), to take part in the South Pole Energy Challenge – the first ever mission to the South Pole that entirely relied on ‘clean energy’.

The expedition itself was a success, however, the 2041 Foundation would not have been able to continue to raise global awareness around climate change, if it were not for the data it collected during the mission. GPS, temperature, video footage, images; all of this data was vital to the success of the challenge. And, it is data that continues to hold the key to the long-term, successful pursuit of the 2041 Foundation’s core mission to combat climate change.”

He summarises, “Technology companies who are willing to partner with organisations like the 2041 Foundation and others doing similar work, are, in their own way, contributing to a globally important narrative that started with the heroic polar expeditions of Scott and Amundsen back in the early 1900s, and will hopefully continue long after 2041.”

Cradlepoint’s VP EMEA, Hubert Da Costa, explains that “Whilst a regular smart home might have a number of devices connected to the network across a relatively small space, by extending this across an entire city, or even an entire county, a huge wireless network of connected things could reach levels of efficiency, cost-effectiveness and convenience that are virtually limitless. For example, Gartner claims that smart lighting can reduce energy consumption by 90%.

Connected streetlights acting as information networks around towns and cities will soon form a backbone of connectivity for other smart city services. These will update parking maps and guide traffic patterns in real time, minimising the impact of traffic and pollution. Environmental departments will have access to real-time readings of pollution levels and wildlife counts, and the ability to remotely collect and analyse water samples and predict usage patterns.”

“By connecting sensors and devices to wireless networks, public services have a greater level of control and a more in-depth method of data collection than ever before. This efficiency is rapidly generating a smarter, greener and more efficient world. With the advances in connectivity, the potential for continued improvement is huge.”

Steve Wainwright, managing director, EMEA, at eLearning company, Skillsoft, concludes that “A good eLearning programme – as well as boosting your organisation’s productivity – can have a positive impact on your organisation’s carbon footprint. Online resources significantly cut down on the amount of paper used in a learning programme.

Classroom based-training, on the other hand, tends to rely on handouts and quizzes that use up a lot of paper. According to research conducted by Kyocera, the average office worker in the UK uses up to 45 pieces of paper per day, and a staggering two-thirds of that is considered waste. Striving to create a paperless office is one of the most eco-friendly tactics an organisation can use to help the environment, and learning programmes are a great place to start.”

 

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