During the Milleniams JAM Session, we, The Shifters, asked ourselves - how might we use ICTs to minimize our footprints?
Ecological footprint is the difference between the natural resources mankind is using and the capacity nature has to regenerate. By measuring ecological footprint, it is possible to know, for example, how many planets humanity needs in order to continue to consume at current levels. We, The Shifters, believe that ICTs have a huge potential to minimize footprints and are the catalyst to sustainable development.
First things first, ICTs can help to raise awareness on issues regarding ecological footprint. It is very hard to engage people on the discussions if they have no idea it exists. It is even harder to expect consumers to change their behaviors if they are unaware of the environmental damage they left behind. For @EllenNida, one of the biggest opportunities ICTs have to offer is that of delivering information that will inform consumers about the ecological footprint they left behind in the form of labeling. Think about the nutrition labels that are found on most food products. Ecological footprint labels will, in the same way, be able to indicate the exact footprints we are leaving behind. Such technology could shift the utility of given products and change consuming behaviors to more sustainable one.
Thinking about a big change in shopping habits, we couldn’t help but worry about whether small or medium size businesses would have the same capacity to adopt these changes as the multinational corporations.@ChrisIP saw in this shift as an opportunity to ensure the participation of small companies, especially in developing countries, in this future sustainable society by using ICTs services. By using Smart Apps and creating Online Networks, Small Companies can make use of the expertise and skills of other small businesses all around the globe. This web is creating an advantaged space for providers and suppliers to offer their goods. The online market place pushes competitions to a whole new level, bringing local business together and possibility lowering prices. All it takes is the creation of small- businesses hubs through ICTS where innovative industries and businesses can meet to trade, share experiences and acquire crowd sourced intelligence.
Moving back to the consumer point of view,@Raquel Mendes raised the point that ICTs can also help people manage their resources in a more efficient way by enabling people to share what they own, or to rent something they need instead of buying. ICTs enable sharing systems such as the bike renting/sharing system Velib that took over Paris over the past few years. AirBnb, that allows anyone can rent their apartment, or exchange, is another on-line platform revolutionizing the hospitality sector. Now there are apps for having dinner with strangers as well. The opportunities are out there. What else can we share?
@Leonid thinks that there is a lot ICTs can do to help industries to reduce their footprints. It is no surprise that ICTs have helped improve managerial intelligence and efficiency of operations across the value chain However, ICTs can also play an important role in gathering intelligence of a final product’s planetary footprints along the same value chain. On-demand manufacturing processes and the emergence of the 3D printers have already raised significant controversies regarding the printing of fire arms and pizzas, but are also offering solutions that are set to completely revolutionize production chains. Think of newsstands that print any newspaper or magazine on demand, instead of having them shipped all around and turned into waste when are not sold.
@RaoulJoshi sees the Connected Trees as an example of using intelligent sensors and ICTs to improve agro-industry efficiency. Ericsson recently showcased this new technology that gives voice to trees allowing them to send messages about need of water or nutrients in the soil. This helps farmers to use only the needed amount of water and fertilizers.
And you? How do you see ICTs contributing to a sustainable future?