IT and computer science key to solving environmental sustainability challenges
Information technology and computer science hold the key to puzzling out some of the world's top sustainability challenges, says a new report from the National Academy of Sciences.
The June 29 report says computer science can help society tackle sustainability challenges including water management, food production, biodiversity and urban planning--not just by collecting and analyzing vast amounts of data, the researchers say, but by leveraging computing advances that account for uncertainty and understand complex systems.
"These problems are as complex as they are important; we need to engage deeply across disciplines to have any hope of meeting global sustainability challenges," Deborah Estrin, professor of computer science at the University of California-Los Angeles, and chair of the committee behind the report, says in an announcement.
The report focuses on the relevance of IT and computer science to sustainability, the value of the computer-science approach to problem solving, key computer-science research areas, and strategy and pragmatic approaches for computer-science research on sustainability.
The value of smart electrical grids, for example, can be improved by managing data to reduce energy consumption and incorporate more renewable energy into the supply, report authors contend. They recommend a bottom-up approach to working on sustainability goals, as well as cooperation across scientific and technical disciplines.
The report also highlights four applicable computer-science research areas:
- Measurement and instrumentation
- Information-intensive systems
- Modeling, simulation, and optimization
- Human-centered systems.
The report says the National Science Foundation's Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability program "provides an opportunity to put the recommended principles of this report into practice at NSF" and guide other researchers interested in sustainability.
Obama tells agencies to commit $2B to green building investments
DoD in position to incubate clean energy, says Pew report
Non-existent baseline data calls agency green IT reporting into question