Life & Science

A tech community for climate change

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At DLD13 climate change and extreme weather patterns were discussed by a knowledgable group of gentlemen - ranging from Iceland's Olfaur Ragnar Grimsson to Johannes Meier who is CEO at the European Climate Foundation and the man behind the Weather Channel David Kenny. At the end of the panel Iceland's president called on the tech community to focus their abilities on finding solutions to the effects of climate change.

An attempt to do exactly that was the first conference on ICT4S - Information Communication Technology for Sustainabilty, held in Zurich. The idea behind the ICT4S is to foster a sustainable information society. The combined ICT industries have the highest power usage of all industries, yet to date, they are a blind spot in the environmental sustainability discourse. In the US for instance, which is a driver in ICT business, the computational sustainability movement is a new and recent development.

Dr. Lorentz Hilty, chairman of the conference and profeesor at ETH - Zurich University, said that there are some inspiring and promising projects which were presented and talked about at the conference. Smart grid solutions for example, envisage intelligent temperature management in buildings, where rooms would "know" when they need to be heated and when not. Similar ideas were expressed in the ideas of Marco Blumenfeld who won the "Best Paper Award" for his ideas on "Building Sustainable Smart Homes".

An other attempt to harness today's use of technology, presented at the ICT4S was the MIT's Center for Collective Intelligence CoLab. Its aim is to profit from crowd sourcing and tap into the intelligence of thousands of people worldwide, to come up with solutions to climate change. At the end of 2012 the CoLab had 4,000 registered members and 40,000 people had visited the site. The project's next step is to divide the climate change challenge into sub-sets, to maximise effectiveness of proposed solutions. Ultimately the climate CoLab is meant to come up with a better strategy for climate change problems, than any one institution or person could have done, through the power of a connected multitude.

To find out more about this project watch an interview by, DLD friend John Brockman with Tom Malone - a founding member of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence - at

Mentioned in this article

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John Brockman
New York
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David Kenny
General Manager
New York