INFORMATIK 2015: Informatics, Energy & Environment

The motto of the this year annual conference of the society of informatics was "Informatics, Energy and Environment". Hence, there were - next to workshops addressing "typical computer science problems - a lot of workshops related to these topics. Just to give you some examples: IT and Services supporting the Energy Transition and Electromobility, Userinteraction and Energy Optimization, Energy Informatics. Mainly, energy questions seem to create an awareness in the research community and lead to different development projects and activities. Above, the "Smart Grid" topic rises research questions.

Personally, I joined two workshop related to sustainability topics. The first one dealt with sustainability reporting ("Digitalisation and Information Systems for Sustainability Reports"). The presentations reached from visualisation up to human ressources management and universities. Arndt et al. came up with a visualization approach for sustainability. They interpreted sustainability as a sum of functions (environment, economics, social aspects) and transfered those values onto a 3D graphic. The aim is to have a easy to use and understand tool especially for managers to give them an overview "what's going on in their organisation in the context of sustainability questions".
The research group from Oldenburg presented an AMS-Dashboard to detect breakdowns of the IT infrastructure at an early stage. The presenters interpreted the resulting time reduction as economic sustainability and the staff motivation as social sustainability. Indeed, the discussion of the workshop participants came to the conclusion that the approach optimises the efficiency of the IT infrastructure but is not sustainable in the sense of Brundtland.
The next presentation comprises the question how the architecture of a company should look like to support CSR in the best way. Horlach showed the results of her stakeholder oriented UA modelling and of expert interviews in this context.
So, too, Mladenow et al. dealt with sustainability questions in a business context. They focused on human ressources management and analysed the relevance of sustainability communication in eRecruitment. The relation between HR and sustainability communication is to be seen in two ways: a) HR is part of CSR and b) there need to be humans to deal with CS topics and they need to be recruited.
The workshop was closed by showing some analysis results of CSR in German universities. So far, just about 4% of the universities have published a sustainability report (means 14 universities - btw. including the Environmental Campus Birkenfeld and the Leuphana University Lüneburg). These reports differ strongly in their structures, content, etc. However, the authors see a high potential in this field and think ICT can support the movement by informing, automatising, and personalising in a good way.

Siminarly to the papers presented during the first workshop I joined, the topics of the Environmental Informatics between Sustainability and Change (UINW) workshop can be devided into "Sustainable in IT" and "Sustainable by IT.
The workshop started with a philosophic view onto environmental informatics by Lärz.
In order to get to know the influence of conferences onto the environment, Stiel et al. analysed the carbon footprint of an IT conference. One idea was to realise a paperless conference. They did so and found out that not only the paper but especially add-ons like conference bags have an influence on the resulting carbon footprint.
I dealt with the question how to communicate aspects of green and sustainable ICT to reach the end user and create an awareness for these topics. Doing so, I presented the status quo (How are Green IT aspects communicated to the end user so far?) and showed up possibilities for the software field.
The presentation by Trumm goes into the field "sustainable by IT" He presented an approach, called "SALT - Situation-sensitive Sustainable Service and Product Alternatives" that uses ICT to inform user, who wants to live a sustainable way of life, about more sustainable products and services in a context-sensitive way.
Wohlgemuth et al. analysed if it is sensible to use augmented reality tools to implement betriebliche environment protecction. They came up to the result that a mobile information system fits better than an AR solution.
Motivated by the Apple Watch or rather the statement by Apple that the border between physical objects (hardware) and software is not given anymore, Arndt motivated the audience to change the traditional perspectives. He pointed out that usability engineering is more important than user experience to reach sustainability goals. After focusing on the functionality of a product, the product design is creating more and more importance.
This workshop closed with an approach in the context of Smart Grids by Sonnenschein and a Polish point of view by Pawel.

Overall the INFORMATIK showed once again that there is a big varity in the topics even if they are all connected to "Informatics, Energy and Environment". Whereas the INFORMATIK 2015 took place in Cottbus, the society of informatics will meet in Klagenfurt, Austria, next year. See you there!