2014-09-14

„Technology drives civilisation dynamics“ – EnviroInfo 2014, Day 1




In the first keynote in this year Environmental Informatics, Michael F. Jischa pointed out that the technical development is influencing our future more and more and hence, the development of the society, influenced by the technology in all fields, is hardly predictable. Therefore, he argues in support of preparing engineers for future challenges that are changing rapidly. Coming to the conclusion that teaching concerning technical assessment and sustainable development has to be embedded into engineering curricula and to be supported by accompanying research projects, Jischa stands the motivation for this conference.

Sustainability Reporting 

The presentations of my first session of the conference this year dealt with the topic “Sustainability Reporting”. Scholtz1 presented approaches to integrate sustainability into the enterprise architecture in South Africa. Using a case study (n=28, participants: companies of different industries), she came i.a. to the results that the focus of reporting in this companies is set on economic (following by social and environment) and that the companies use very primitive systems (e.g. Spread Sheets or internal systems.

Regarding the last point, Giesen2 has presented possible solutions regarding the used systems for ICT-based sustainability planning and management support. His idea is to use existing tools in SMEs and combine them to implement sustainability activities. Exemplary tools presented by him are “ProPlaNET” (Project Planning in the Net) and SINISTER (Strategic Instrument for developing a Sustainable Enterprise).

Similar to Giesen, who pointed out, that the consideration of sustainability should be the first step of a new activity, Halberstadt and Johnson3 set the focus on start ups to start with sustainability reporting right in the beginning. Indeed, in this context suitable tools are still missing. The existing ones – including those that have been presented during the conference – do focus on companies where the number of employees is 50+. This presentation was my personal favourite of the conference: the speakers  (both management experts) came with questions to the IT and they found some solutions by the audience. For me, this shows the spirit of a conference: bringing together experts of different domains to find better solutions by using this network.

Sustainability – Dimensions and Indicators 

The second session I joined today was about dimensions and indicators for sustainability. In this context, Razavian presented the four-dimensional sustainability4, being environment, economic, social and technology. He pointed out that nearly all services of our daily life are supported by IT what brings him to address the challenge of implying sustainability for e-services.
El Alify5 set the focus on the cellular telecommunication industry in Egypt and enhanced that the human element is as important as the system itself. Hence, she sees the following four dimensions: Eco-Learning, Eco-Process, Eco-Value and Eco-Brand.

The session was concluded by eco-controlling strategies and information systems for the whole company on the one side and addressing functional parts of the company on the other side.

References

The following papers are included in the proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Environmental Informatics for Environmental Protection, ICT for Energy Efficiency, EnviroInfo 2014, Oldenburg, Germany, September 10-12, 2014.
  1. Scholtz, Brenda; Calitz, Andre; Gomez, Jorge Marx; Fischer, Franziska (2014): "A Comparison of Aproaches to Integrating Sustainability into the Enterprise Architecture of Voluntarily and Mandatorily Reporting Companies"
  2. Giesen, Nils: "ICT-based Sustainability Planning and Management Support for SME"
  3. Halberstadt, Jantje; Johnson, Matthew: "Sustainability Management for Startups and Micro-Enterprises: Development of a Sustainability-Quick-Check and Reporting Scheme"
  4. Razavian, Maryam; Procaccianti, Giuseppe; Tamburri, Damian Andrew: "Four-Dimensional Sustainable E-Services"
  5. El Alfy, Shahira; Kortam, Wael: "Exploring Environmental Sustainability Performance in the Cellular Telecommunication Industry in Egypt"