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Early computer at MOSI

A 'Green Digital Charter' to reduce ICT footprint

Few in Manchester realise that the Council is a considered leader in innovative internet and communication technologies in Europe.  The Council body responsible is Manchester Digital Development Agency, led by the highly respected Dave Carter, whose current preoccupations include 3D printing and the ‘Internet of things’

Several years ago, Dave led on the introduction of the Green Digital Charter to cities across Europe.  Our very own Richard Leese was the first European city councillor to sign a commitment to use digital media to be more green and to green up ICT itself.   Specifically the Charter commits cities to 5 large scale pilot projects using ICT to support the delivery of environmental initiatives AND to reduce the city’s ICT carbon footprint by 30%.

Now over 40 cities have signed the Green Digital Charter and the number is growing.  Just last week Dublin signed via Skype at the Eurocities Knowledge Society Forum hosted at Manchester Town Hall.  This forum brings together cities administrators interested in and committed to using ICT to deliver services and support their citizens. Manchester hosted the 20th anniversary of this forum, opened by Richard Leese and Dave Carter who fondly remembered the early days when sending an email was a really big deal!  Dave was critical to the formation of the Knowledge Society Forum and can certainly take some credit for European Union’s adoption of ICT as critical to service delivery.

Sometimes Green and Digital can seem an oxymoron when digital activity by its very nature consumes energy.  But ICT is here to stay and we have no choice but to consider how it can be made more sustainable and how to use it to improve sustainability - whether it is using Skype to communicate rather than catching a plane or developing electronic ticketing to support increased use of public transport.  The explicit relationship between green and digital activity is in its infancy and something to be developed and watched with interest.

Main image: An early Manchester computer at the Museum of Science and Industry courtesy of Parrot of Doom via Wikimedia Commons.