A Cybera research project has become one of the first Canadian test cases in a study that will help outline protocols for international “green” IT. Researchers from the University of Calgary’s Grid Research Centre (GRC) are aiding in the investigation, which forms part of the GreenStar Network (GSN) project, an initiative that aims to reduce the environmental impact of information and communication technology (ICT). This industry is becoming one of the world’s largest carbon emitters.
“The GSN Project will establish an emissions reduction protocol for ICT, which has never been done before,” explains Dr. Cameron Kiddle, Research Fellow with the GRC.
One of the first test cases for the GSN is the GeoChronos environmental monitoring web portal, managed by Cybera, which made the switch from a coal-powered computer centre to a hydro-run centre at the end of January, 2011. Operating the portal on renewable energy will enable massive amounts of satellite and ground sensor data to be shared online in one collaborative space, but in a more carbon-neutral way.
The emissions produced by the GeoChronos portal will be studied by the GRC over the next six months and compared to emissions produced when the portal ran on a coal-powered computer centre. This comparison will inform the development of protocols outlining how IT projects can qualify for carbon credits, as well as the best way to measure the carbon emissions of computer centres.
“This project is helping scientists determine how our social and economic activities impact the Earth’s ecosystem,” says Robin Winsor, Cybera President and CEO. “Cybera is proud to be a part of the process of uniting an important climate data project with an environmentally-friendly network source.”
“The GreenStar Network aims to ensure that our carbon footprint doesn’t increase as the world becomes more reliant on information and communications technologies,” adds Dr. Mohamed Cheriet, Director of Synchromedia at the Université du Quebec’s École de technologie supérieure, which leads the GSN.
About the GreenStar Network Project
The goal of the GreenStar Network Project (GSN) is to initiate a Canadian consortium of industry, universities and government agencies with the common goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions arising from information & communication technology (ICT) services. GSN will combine renewable energy with rigorous carbon accounting to provide state-of-the-art ICT infrastructure upon which universities, businesses, and governments can provide certifiably low-carbon services. The expected result is the creation of tools, protocols, procedures and use cases for a growing network of ICT service providers that offer customers the lowest price and greenest services. For more information, please visit the GreenStar website.
The GeoChronos web portal was developed in 2008 by the University of Calgary’s Grid Research Centre in partnership with the Centre for Earth Observation Science at the University of Alberta. GeoChronos allows massive amounts of data from satellites and ground sensors to be shared, discussed and analyzed in one collaborative location. For example, researchers who are studying animal migration or tropical deforestation can use the portal to access online information and networking tools.
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