Researchers create a CO2 meter to calculate emissions caused by digital data


July 04, 2023

(Nanowerk News) A unique carbon footprint tool has been created to enable businesses to measure CO2 output of their digital data (“Is there a role for knowledge management in saving the planet from too much data?”).

Every day, the average person creates 10 DVDs worth of data via cell phone, fitness tracker, email – anything that uses ones and zeros to process information.

All these bytes are collected and processed by the company and stored in various data centers around the world. By 2025, it is estimated that there will be 180 zettabytes of data stored – the equivalent of 6.8 billion years of continuous Netflix streaming.

Using this tool, believed to be the first of its kind, companies can make data-driven decisions that benefit the environment and save money by reducing their reliance on carbon offset schemes.

Professor Ian Hodgkinson of Loughborough Business School said: “In the push towards net zero, digital technologies have played, and continue to play, a critical role, but we must also be aware of CO hidden data2 costs attached to the way society and organizations use digital technologies. Identify and measure CO data2 footprint is critical to future decarbonization strategies.”

His colleague Professor Tom Jackson added: “We are excited to announce the release of the world’s first publicly available tool that empowers organizations to assess the environmental impact of their data projects. With this tool, organizations can determine the carbon footprint of their data-related activities and explore data approaches better way to reduce their data carbon footprint while lowering carbon emissions. Using this tool, organizations can make informed decisions to minimize their environmental impact while still achieving their business goals.”

Recognizing the importance of digital decarbonization, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Observatory for Public Sector Innovation (OECD-OPSI) have identified the work of Jackson and Hodgkinson as an important focus for accelerating the path to net-zero.

More info on digital decarbonization can be found here.


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