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Green Data: renewable energies as a mainstay of the digital transformation

Autor: Victor Barberà   /  26.11.2019

A recent paper released at the International Journal of Enviromental Research and Public Health, where professionals from the foundation participated in, is presenting the results of a research that evidences how the telemedicine has a positive impact with the environment conservation issues. This research considers different inputs from human activities related CO2 pollutant emissions (Vidal-Alaball et al., 2019). This research focuses on studying theses results from three different regions in Catalonia. It shows a new method to offer public healthcare services to the population as a part of the regular care services and how this could be implemented acorss the whole territory. That would mean to move forward in terms of efficiency and sustainability of the public funding of the Catalan Administration and a powerfull tool for reducing pollution. At the same level, these practices are aligned with the digital transformation concept proving coherence with the paradigm of digital society that we are living in. It can help for a deeper transformation of worldwide public administrations shaping new organisational systems as digital states (Peña-López, 2019) as Estonia (Forment, 2019). However we talk of solutions and technological tools that share a common denominator, massive data exchange and management in real time. This is the Internet nowadays. But, which is the economic and environmental cost of it?   Cloud storage, Internet of Things, Big Data, AI, Blockchain,... According to Genís Roca “all technology we have nowadays deals with the same thing: what you can do with data in real time” (Barberà, 2019) and yet this tech industry will generate an estimation of the 4% over the total of dioxide of carbon during the 2020 (Greenpeace, 2017). This means that “if Internet was a country, would be the sixth more pollutant of the planet” (National Geographic, 2019). Internet, as media fostering ICTs to improve the quality of life, brings new opportunities and challenges for human beings. Therefore, it seems contradictory to affirm that a technological solution aiding environmental conservation needs such an energetic expense. Far from disqualify tested tech solutions like telemedicine, the following text is looking forward the debate of digital pollution as a problem concerning the present climate emergency. Solving this challenge should be a responsibility for anyone. Both private and public companies, worldwide societies and individuals.   Leaving electronic devices in stand by mode like computers or routers, uploading content to the social media, using criptocurrencies or consult My Health [La Meva Salut]. As a result of our hyperconnected lives, any daily activity related with the use of devices and/or massive data exchange needs a high expense of energetic resources, and therefore, economic and environmental costs. Attending to the ongoing production and management models, this energetic costs counteracts the positive effects of these mentioned technological solutions deployed to improve the practice of human activities (Vidal-Alaball et al., 2019). Using different terms, the reduction of the time and pollution by using telemedicine does not yet compensate the negative impact that Internet causes globally.     The following link shows the results of CO2GLE project.  Check the amount of Google's CO2 emissions in real time while we surf through the Internet. Some giants like Google and processing data centers like Kolos are doing their homework. No matter their purposes. Whether it is to adjust to legal terms or adjusting to minimal standards of SCR applying the greenwashing concept. Perhaps for real awareness climate emergency.     Not a least issue would be to foster sustainability and efficiency of public funds invested on technology for digital transformation of the management models powered by renewable energies. It would bring coherence and smashed these counteracted contradictions. A Greenpeace's report, Clicking Clean (2017), defendes the “need of an approach and determined defense of the renewable energies to surpass vices of the financial lobbies and energetic companies [...] and creation of a suitable path for a fast adoption of clean energies”.   At this point we could talk of a truthful commute to the so called Green Data and face the challenge that -according to the European Commission- "more than a third of the expense of energy by data centers attains to refrigeration of the equipments and maintaining the optimal temperature of the data servers".         To sum up, full sustainable techs focused to improve our lives being powered by renewable energy is an affair concerning everybody. Individuals, organisations and public institutions. Noy only to improve the efficiency of the services but to certainly reduce the environmental impact of human's activities.  


  • Vidal-Alaball, J., Franch-Parella, J., Lopez F., Garcia Cuyàs, F., Medioroz Peña, J. (2019). Impact of a Telemedicine Program on the Reduction in the Emission of Atmospheric Pollutants and Journeys by Road. International Journal of Enviromental Research and Public Health 16(22), 4366. Recuperat el 25 de Novembre de 2019 de
  • More than half of the world's population will be connected to the Internet in 2020