Monday, 19 September 2011

Upcoming Australian Green ICT Workshops.

Just a quick plug; I will be hosting a Green ICT workshop on September 28th in Adelaide, Australia as part of the 2011 Acts conference.
I will be  presenting on the progress of the JISC funded SUSTE-TECH project since its commencement in Jan 2010.  I will include a summary of the results of the 15 SUSTE-TECH participant’s action plans and which of the Green ICT technologies have proved most popular. I will also focus on the “4 M’s” and how effective communication and behavioural change are essential to a project’s long-term success. I will also be showcasing the other 34 JISC greening of ICT projects and, as always, will be promoting the use of the Suste-IT tool to monitor ICT related energy use.
Other Green ICT workshop hosts include Sam Fernandez from ANU and Ruth Oliver from Monsash University. Details of the event are included in the following link;
I will replicate this workshop a week later on Oct 4th at the University of Sydney. Minor details of the event have yet to be confirmed but if you are an ICT, Sustainable / Environmental, Energy or Estates manager concerned about your institutions ICT energy use, these are the workshops for you.
E mail me for more details on either of the events.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Donating ICT Kit to Africa V’s Recycling in UK.

Donating ICT Kit to Africa V’s Recycling in UK.
I recently spoke with Computer Aid international on the subject of sending computers overseas to Africa. They  expressed  their frustration at the amount of PC's still remaining in the UK and not being donated to reputable charities such as Computer Aid international. We discussed the issue of FHE institutions choosing to have redundant PCs recycled in the UK as opposed to being sent to Africa for reuse. 
It has been reported in the past that personal data has been stolen from the hard drives of donated PCs and used illegally in the purchase of goods or to obtain money. This type of fraudulent activity can destroy a person’s credit history and ultimately leave them financially worse off than prior to donating their PC. PCs and other ICT equipment are often disassembled under poor environmental health and safety conditions for the sole purpose of abstracting their valuable metals and materials.  There is also the concern that donating overseas also adds to the air-miles and lifetime CO2 emissions of PCs.
However, this is not typically the case and only represents a small percentage of what really happens to ICT equipment when donated to a reputable charity. A more accurate account of donating ICT equipment for reuse in developing countriesis that the equipment ends up in schools, small businesses and medical centres. The positive impact the use of a PC has on the education and ultimately the life of a young African child, far outweighs the negative environmental impact created through the shipping of ICT equipment overseas or the possibility of personal data being stolen and reused illegally. Besides, Computer Aid will ensure that your data is deleted from the PCs hard drive.
So just a reminder to anyone who may be facing the dilemma of deciding whether to send PCs to be recycled in the UK or to donate them to a charity.
·        Empirical research proves beyond doubt that reuse of computers is far better for the environment than recycling: Reusing a computer is 20 times more effective at saving life cycle energy use than recycling. Given the substantial environmental cost of production it’s important  that the full productive value of every PC is recovered through reuse before eventually recycling it to recover parts and materials at its true end-of-life. A refurbished computer can provide at least another 3 years productive life.

·        Reusing PCs can help to support development projects, such as schools and hospitals in emerging economies: School children are the main recipients of Computer Aid PCs and the charity have so far provided an ICT education to more than a million children in the developing world. For these students, the opportunities provided through education and IT literacy offers a way out of poverty. It is only with computer skills that young people can compete for professional or administrative jobs. Even in the field of health care, Computer Aid has been providing laptops and digital cameras to doctors and nurses across Africa to save lives and stem the spread of disease through remote diagnosis for those in rural areas who are unable to reach specialists in central hospitals. Rural health workers are using the laptops to email x-ray images, medical notes and digital photographs of critically ill patients for expert clinical diagnostic support from experienced professional clinicians hundreds of miles away, bringing advanced healthcare to people living in the most remote areas. As a result, medical conditions can be treated promptly and accurately with life-saving consequences.

·        Aiding the disabled: Computer Aid has been working for a number of years to ensure that the disabled are able to access learning and employment opportunities. In Ethiopia, Computer Aid has provided computers to disabled people to help them to establish businesses and provide vocational training to the disabled. Most African schools have no services available for blind students, and 90% of African children who are blind don’t go to school at all. In a project supported by Sightsavers International, Computer Aid has been working with the Kenya Union of the Blind to provide PCs with assistive technology: software that produces synthesized speech output of the screen contents for blind users and screen magnification and enhancements for visually impaired users. The project is offering a new level of independence to users, allowing greater mobility and freedom and the chance to take up new opportunities.
While it’s understood that disadvantaged children in the UK are also in need of donations, they are far more likely during their childhood, teenage years and adulthood to be repeatedly introduced to computers, than a child in Africa. African children educated in the use of PCs from an early age are far more likely to become self reliant later years as their PC skills enable them to find employment.
To continue with its work, Computer Aid relies on the donations of computers and laptops from UK organisations. So please donate your unwanted computers to projects such as these. Call the charity on 020 8361 5540 or email or visit
Your generosity will help to change a child's life!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

The 2011 COUP Conference

I’m must back from the 2011 COUP Conference which was held at St Andrew’s University in Scotland. While procurement is only part of my role as the SUSTE-TECH project manager, I found the sessions quite informative. The information given at the sessions are likely to prove useful as this project continues. I gave a short presentation on the results of the SUSTE-TECH participants Green ICT Action plans and why it was JISC funded this project (and indeed the other 33 Greening of ICT projects). I also included a short demonstration on the use of the Suste­-IT tool and encouraged the procurement managers to forward onto their institution’s energy, sustainable and ICT managers a copy of the tool and information on the SUSTE-TECH project.
The main points I included was that procurement managers should be looking to
1. purchase fewer pieces of ICT equipment (per institution)
2. purchase pieces of equipment that last longer and
3. that consumes less energy when in use.
Procurement managers also need to check with suppliers to see if they have the necessary environmental information on their products such as the air miles, ecological footprint, embodied energy, types of materials being used during manufacture and the status of those materials. i.e. are they renewable or is there a finite supply that is being depleted.  A show of hands at the session indicated that quite a few procurement managers are actively involved in their institutions environmental committee but many are not. (This, coincidentally, was similar to the results of the ICT managers survey that was circulated last year). The most important message I’d hoped  to leave with procurement managers was the importance of teaming up with energy, environmental and ICT managers  to complete (and update accordingly) the Suste-IT tool and use the results to demonstrate potential savings by simply switching to more sustainable ICT equipment. In fact, I showcased how the 12th tab of the Suste-IT tool gives a one page analysis of all the necessary information to convince a financial manager of the need for using more sustainable ICT equipment. Hopefully procurement managers will have been inspired to work more closely with their environmental committees and continue to play their part in carbon reduction and in cost savings for their institution.