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Special Issue "Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Sustainability"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Engineering and Science".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Mattias Höjer

Division of Environmental Strategies Research (fms), and Centre for Sustainable Communications, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden
Website | E-Mail
Interests: futures studies for sustainable development; ICT4S; smart sustainable cities; environmental policy
Guest Editor
Dr. Elina Eriksson

Green Leap and CESC, KTH - Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Human-Computer Interaction; user-centred design; sustainability; sustainable consumption; education for sustainable development
Guest Editor
Dr. Chris Preist

Department of Computer Science, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TH, UK
Website | E-Mail
Interests: computer technology; carbon footprinting techniques

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We invite papers from a broad range of topics connected to Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Sustainability to this Special Issue. ICT through digitalization is affecting all parts of society and changes the preconditions for, and opportunities of, sustainability. We are in an era of both digitization and digitalization, with the first focusing on the technical development and the latter on the use of this development. This Special Issue is covering both these changes, and their relation to mainly environmental and social sustainability.

Received papers are expected to include (but are not limited to) the following examples that all ought to discuss ICT and sustainability implications: ICT in a transforming society, changing practices and lifestyles, smart technologies and the environment, ICT applications for decision support in organizations, assessing and reducing the direct environmental impact of ICT, and sustainability assessments of ICT-based solutions.

We are foreseeing contributions covering for example topics related to energy, cities, transport and food and we highly encourage interdisciplinary work.

Prof. Dr. Mattias Höjer
Dr. Elina Eriksson
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1700 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • ICT
  • digitalization
  • societal change
  • sustainability

Published Papers (19 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Conceptualizing the Digital Sharing Economy in the Context of Sustainability
Sustainability 2018, 10(12), 4453; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124453
Received: 2 November 2018 / Revised: 22 November 2018 / Accepted: 23 November 2018 / Published: 27 November 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (741 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Human society is increasingly influencing the planet and its environmental systems. The existing environmental problems indicate that current production and consumption patterns are not sustainable. Despite the remarkable opportunities brought about by Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to improve the resource efficiency of [...] Read more.
Human society is increasingly influencing the planet and its environmental systems. The existing environmental problems indicate that current production and consumption patterns are not sustainable. Despite the remarkable opportunities brought about by Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to improve the resource efficiency of production and consumption processes, it seems that the overall trend is still not heading towards sustainability. By promoting the utilization of available and underused resources, the ICT-enabled sharing economy has transformed, and even in some cases disrupted, the prevailing patterns of production and consumption, raising questions about opportunities and risks of shared consumption modes for sustainability. The present article attempts to conceptualize the sustainability implications of today’s sharing economy. We begin with presenting a definition for the digital sharing economy that embraces the common features of its various forms. Based on our proposed definition, we discuss the theoretical and practical implications of the digital sharing economy as a use case of ICT. The analysis is deepened by applying the life-cycle/enabling/structural impacts model of ICT effects to this use case. As a result, we show the various positive and negative potentials of digital sharing for sustainability at different system levels. While it is too early to project well-founded scenarios to describe the sustainability status of digital sharing, the implications discussed in our work may help outlining future research and policies in this area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
The Energy and Carbon Footprint of the Global ICT and E&M Sectors 2010–2015
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3027; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093027
Received: 31 May 2018 / Revised: 6 August 2018 / Accepted: 14 August 2018 / Published: 25 August 2018
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (11436 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
This article presents estimations of the energy and carbon footprint of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Entertainment & Media (E&M) sectors globally for 2010–2015 including a forecast to 2020. It builds on three previous global studies (2007, 2011, and 2018) and [...] Read more.
This article presents estimations of the energy and carbon footprint of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Entertainment & Media (E&M) sectors globally for 2010–2015 including a forecast to 2020. It builds on three previous global studies (2007, 2011, and 2018) and a Swedish study (2015) by the same authors. The study is based on an extensive dataset which combines primary and secondary data for operational (use stage) energy consumption and life cycle greenhouse gas emissions (CO2e) for the included sub-sectors, including energy and carbon footprint data from about 100 of the major global manufacturers, operators, and ICT and E&M service providers. The data set also includes sales statistics and forecasts for equipment to estimate product volumes in addition to published LCA studies and primary manufacturing data to estimate the embodied carbon footprint of products. The result shows that the ICT and E&M sectors have turned their previously growing footprints into shrinking ones despite a continuous increase in subscriptions and data traffic. Furthermore, the results of this study are also indicating that these footprints are significantly smaller than previously forecasted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Indicators for Promising Accessibility and Mobility Services
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2836; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082836
Received: 21 June 2018 / Revised: 24 July 2018 / Accepted: 6 August 2018 / Published: 9 August 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (482 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Cities are increasingly facing major transportation challenges, and new sustainable solutions are needed. New ICT-enabled services can be part of solving the problems, including both improving and finding new transportation services and providing digital access to different services. It is important to identify [...] Read more.
Cities are increasingly facing major transportation challenges, and new sustainable solutions are needed. New ICT-enabled services can be part of solving the problems, including both improving and finding new transportation services and providing digital access to different services. It is important to identify which services have the best potential for environmental benefits (e.g., travel reduction leading to lesser emissions), economic viability and spread. Such identification can be carried out with the help of indicators. This article uses four types of new accessibility services to test out a previously formulated set of indicators and suggest changes to make them more useful. Using common indicators for transportation and digital accessibility services seem to support collecting and condensing information about the services and simplifies understanding their benefits and challenges. However, a challenge for this approach is finding indicators that are both specific and broad enough to be useful. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Digital Acceleration of Sustainability Transition: The Paradox of Push Impacts
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2816; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082816
Received: 31 May 2018 / Revised: 27 July 2018 / Accepted: 2 August 2018 / Published: 8 August 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (2967 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Sustainability requires ongoing reform of resource production and consumption to reduce environmental harms. The main way that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can address these resource impacts is through digital optimization. Spreng found that optimization of an industrial process either increases energy use [...] Read more.
Sustainability requires ongoing reform of resource production and consumption to reduce environmental harms. The main way that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can address these resource impacts is through digital optimization. Spreng found that optimization of an industrial process either increases energy use or accelerates production or consumption. It was assumed that reducing energy use progresses sustainability, whilst accelerating production or consumption to meet market demand is consumerist and generally detrimental to sustainability. In this paper, we argue that there are two important cases in which accelerating economic processes actually has an essential role in enabling sustainability by ICT: (1) when the process drives the production and adoption of an environmentally beneficial product such as a solar panel, often referred to as “cleantech”, or (2) when the process being increased is specific to the Circular Economy, such as recycling, maintenance/refurbishment, and sharing/reuse e.g., car-sharing, ride-sharing and tool-sharing in the Sharing Economy. The opportunities for ICT4S optimization are thus threefold: not just saving resources with efficiency, but also pushing the adoption of cleantech, and pushing the circulation of resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
An Analysis of the Energy Consumption Behavior of Scaled, Containerized Web Apps
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2710; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082710
Received: 30 May 2018 / Revised: 23 July 2018 / Accepted: 31 July 2018 / Published: 1 August 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (5865 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Containerization is one of the most important topics for modern data centers and web developers. Since the number of containers on one- and multi-node systems is growing, knowledge about the energy consumption behavior of single web-service containers is essential in order to save [...] Read more.
Containerization is one of the most important topics for modern data centers and web developers. Since the number of containers on one- and multi-node systems is growing, knowledge about the energy consumption behavior of single web-service containers is essential in order to save energy and, of course, money. In this article, we are going to show how the energy consumption behavior of single containerized web services/web apps changes while creating replicas of the service in order to scale and balance the web service. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
“We Started Building Green IT Back in the 1970s”: Making Sense of Sustainable ICT through Organizational History
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2668; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082668
Received: 31 May 2018 / Revised: 24 July 2018 / Accepted: 26 July 2018 / Published: 30 July 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (639 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Traditionally, research related to Sustainable Information and Communication Technology (Sustainable ICT) has focused on the technological aspects, but there is an emerging stream of research, which looks at Sustainable ICT from the viewpoint of the social sciences. In this paper, we build on [...] Read more.
Traditionally, research related to Sustainable Information and Communication Technology (Sustainable ICT) has focused on the technological aspects, but there is an emerging stream of research, which looks at Sustainable ICT from the viewpoint of the social sciences. In this paper, we build on and contribute to this research by emphasizing the role of history in the shaping of Sustainable ICT. Rather than seeing the importance of history as pure technological determinism or path dependency, we draw on the historical turn in organizational studies to highlight the idea that history is malleable. This implies that organizational actors can reshape their past from the present, thus creating new conditions for the future. To highlight the importance of this theoretical conceptualization of history, we present a case study of the Nordic ICT company Tieto, where the heat recovery system of the Älvsjö data center (finished in 1978) was reconceptualized as “green” following the Green Information Technology (Green IT) trend in 2007. This way of theorizing organizational history could be used more widely within research into Sustainable ICT in order to understand why Sustainable ICT has become what it is, which also implies that we can re-interpret this history to shape the future of Sustainable ICT. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Where Do Our Resources Go? Indium, Neodymium, and Gold Flows Connected to the Use of Electronic Equipment in Switzerland
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2658; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082658
Received: 16 May 2018 / Revised: 23 July 2018 / Accepted: 25 July 2018 / Published: 28 July 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (3191 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The increased use of digital information and communications technologies (ICT) is giving rise to fast-growing waste streams that contain important material resources. In contrast to bulk materials and precious metals, the recovery of most critical metals has not yet been commercially established, and [...] Read more.
The increased use of digital information and communications technologies (ICT) is giving rise to fast-growing waste streams that contain important material resources. In contrast to bulk materials and precious metals, the recovery of most critical metals has not yet been commercially established, and they are thus lost within the recycling process. In this article, we used dynamic material flow analysis to explore the stocks and flows of indium, neodymium, and gold incorporated in end-user devices in Switzerland. Our analysis covered the use, collection, recycling, and disposal phases. This enabled us to track the three metals from their entry into Switzerland as components of new devices until their recovery, disposal in landfills, or dissipation to the environment. Using statistical entropy analysis (SEA), we further analyzed the dilution or concentration of the metals during their route through the current system. The data uncertainty was addressed employing a probabilistic approach. The largest quantities of all three metals are found in the devices currently in use. The second-largest stocks are slags disposed in landfills for indium, slags used for construction for neodymium, and the output of metal recovery processes for gold. The SEA illustrates how the current collection and recycling system successfully concentrates all three metals. While 70% of gold leaving the use phase is recovered, indium and neodymium are dissipated to slags after smelting and incineration processes due to the lack of economic incentives and lacking recovery processes on a commercial scale. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Resilient Smart Gardens—Exploration of a Blueprint
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2654; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082654
Received: 30 May 2018 / Revised: 7 July 2018 / Accepted: 23 July 2018 / Published: 28 July 2018
PDF Full-text (2686 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In an effort to become more resilient and contribute to saving water and other resources, people become more interested in growing their own food, but do not have sufficient gardening experience and education on conserving water. Previous work has attempted to develop resilient [...] Read more.
In an effort to become more resilient and contribute to saving water and other resources, people become more interested in growing their own food, but do not have sufficient gardening experience and education on conserving water. Previous work has attempted to develop resilient smart gardens that support the user in automated watering using simple embedded boards. However, none of these solutions proved to be scalable nor are they easy to replicate for people at home. We set up a student team project that created a safe space for exploring this multidisciplinary domain. We developed a smart resilient garden kit with Internet-of-Things devices that is easy to rebuild and scale. We use a small-scale board and a number of sensors connected to a planter. In this paper, we report on a prototypical implementation for multidisciplinary smart garden projects, our experiences with self-guided implementation and reflection meetings, and our lessons learned. By learning about water conservation using automation on a small scale, students develop a sense for engineering solutions regarding resource limitations early on. By extending such small projects, they can prepare for developing large-scale solutions for those challenges. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
ICT Development and Sustainable Energy Consumption: A Perspective of Energy Productivity
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2568; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072568
Received: 29 May 2018 / Revised: 7 July 2018 / Accepted: 10 July 2018 / Published: 23 July 2018
PDF Full-text (795 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The information and communication technology (ICT) is closely related to the future of global energy consumption, not only because the ICT equipment itself increasingly consumes energy, but also because it is a general-purpose technology which may affect energy use of almost all sectors. [...] Read more.
The information and communication technology (ICT) is closely related to the future of global energy consumption, not only because the ICT equipment itself increasingly consumes energy, but also because it is a general-purpose technology which may affect energy use of almost all sectors. Given the controversy over the net energy-saving effect of ICT, this paper focuses on a new perspective, i.e., energy productivity, to investigate the relationship between ICT development and energy consumption. Using a data panel of 50 economies over the period of 1995 to 2013, results of the Malmquist energy productivity index generally indicate an unbalanced development of energy productivity across the globe, while results of the patent-based ICT knowledge stock indicate a huge gap of ICT development comparing the high-income economies with the others. Furthermore, regression results indicate that ICT development is significantly related to energy productivity improvement. Finally, this paper suggests accelerating ICT development in underdeveloped economies, given the global common task of sustainable energy consumption. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluating the Energy Consumption of Mobile Data Transfer—From Technology Development to Consumer Behaviour and Life Cycle Thinking
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2494; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072494
Received: 31 May 2018 / Revised: 11 July 2018 / Accepted: 11 July 2018 / Published: 17 July 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2182 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Mobile data consumption in Finland is among the highest in the world. The increase in mobile data usage has been rapid and continual future growth is foreseen. Simultaneously, consumer behaviour is changing. While new end-user devices are more and more energy-efficient and energy [...] Read more.
Mobile data consumption in Finland is among the highest in the world. The increase in mobile data usage has been rapid and continual future growth is foreseen. Simultaneously, consumer behaviour is changing. While new end-user devices are more and more energy-efficient and energy consumption per transferred gigabyte has significantly decreased, people spend more time and consume more data via their mobile devices than ever before. Does the increased usage outweigh the energy savings that have been achieved? What options are available for tackling increasing energy demand? And should consumers have a role to play in this discussion? This paper examines the current and future trends that results from the energy consumption of mobile data transfer and mobile networks in Finland. The findings presented in this paper are based on a top-down energy intensity estimate and publicly available data, which was employed to construct an illustrative trend (kWh/gigabyte) for the energy consumption of transmitted mobile data for the years 2010–2017. In addition, energy consumption related to mobile data transfer is discussed from a life cycle perspective, considering both direct and indirect energy use. Finally, the challenges in conducting such assessments are examined. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Unintended Effects of Autonomous Driving: A Study on Mobility Preferences in the Future
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2404; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072404
Received: 31 May 2018 / Revised: 29 June 2018 / Accepted: 6 July 2018 / Published: 10 July 2018
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (859 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Innovations in the mobility industry such as automated and connected cars could significantly reduce congestion and emissions by allowing the traffic to flow more freely and reducing the number of vehicles according to some researchers. However, the effectiveness of these sustainable product and [...] Read more.
Innovations in the mobility industry such as automated and connected cars could significantly reduce congestion and emissions by allowing the traffic to flow more freely and reducing the number of vehicles according to some researchers. However, the effectiveness of these sustainable product and service innovations is often limited by unexpected changes in consumption: some researchers thus hypothesize that the higher comfort and improved quality of time in driverless cars could lead to an increase in demand for driving with autonomous vehicles. So far, there is a lack of empirical evidence supporting either one or other of these hypotheses. To analyze the influence of autonomous driving on mobility behavior and to uncover user preferences, which serve as indicators for future travel mode choices, we conducted an online survey with a paired comparison of current and future travel modes with 302 participants in Germany. The results do not confirm the hypothesis that ownership will become an outdated model in the future. Instead they suggest that private cars, whether conventional or fully automated, will remain the preferred travel mode. At the same time, carsharing will benefit from full automation more than private cars. However, the findings indicate that the growth of carsharing will mainly be at the expense of public transport, showing that more emphasis should be placed in making public transport more attractive if sustainable mobility is to be developed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
A Catalogue Supporting Software Sustainability Design
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2296; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072296
Received: 30 May 2018 / Revised: 26 June 2018 / Accepted: 27 June 2018 / Published: 3 July 2018
PDF Full-text (1255 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Like other communities, sustainability in and for software design is a grand research and development challenge. Current research focuses on eliciting the meanings of sustainability and on building approaches for its engineering and integration into the mainstream software development lifecycle. However, few concrete [...] Read more.
Like other communities, sustainability in and for software design is a grand research and development challenge. Current research focuses on eliciting the meanings of sustainability and on building approaches for its engineering and integration into the mainstream software development lifecycle. However, few concrete guidelines that software designers can apply effectively are available. A guideline aims to streamline the design processes according to a set of well-known research routines or sound industry practices. Such guidelines can help software developers in the elicitation of sustainability requirements and testing software against these requirements. This paper introduces a sustainability design catalogue (SSDC) comprising a series of guidelines. It aims to assist software developers and managers in eliciting sustainability requirements, and then in measuring and testing software sustainability. The catalogue is based on reviews of the current and past research on sustainability in software engineering, which are the grounds for the development of the catalogue. Four different case studies were analyzed using the Karlskrona manifesto principles on sustainability design. A pilot framework is also proposed that includes a set of sustainability goals, concepts and methods. It exemplifies how to apply and quantify sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
What Can You Do with 100 kWh? A Longitudinal Study of Using an Interactive Energy Comparison Tool to Increase Energy Awareness
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2269; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072269
Received: 31 May 2018 / Revised: 28 June 2018 / Accepted: 28 June 2018 / Published: 2 July 2018
PDF Full-text (737 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Reducing the use of energy is important for several reasons, such as saving money and reducing impact on the climate. However, the awareness among non-experts of how much energy is required by different activities and appliances is generally low, which can lead to [...] Read more.
Reducing the use of energy is important for several reasons, such as saving money and reducing impact on the climate. However, the awareness among non-experts of how much energy is required by different activities and appliances is generally low, which can lead to wrong prioritizations. In this study, we have developed an interactive tool to increase “energy awareness”, and performed a longitudinal study to evaluate its effect. A group of 58 students first did a test to benchmark their current energy awareness, where their current knowledge of energy used for 14 different activities, such as driving vehicles and using home appliances, was measured. They then tried the interactive learning tool for 10 min. Next, they did the same test immediately after trying the tool, then again one week after trying the tool, and finally again six months after trying the tool. The results showed a significant learning effect in energy awareness with a “huge” effect size of 2.25 immediately after the intervention, a “very large” effect size of 1.70 after one week, and a “large” effect size of 0.93 after six months. The results further showed that the respondents consistently underestimated what 100 kWh could be used for, and especially so for appliances and activities requiring little energy. Before the intervention, on average they underestimated how much 100 kWh could be used for by 95.2%, and six months after the intervention the underestimation was 86.8%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Is the Maker Movement Contributing to Sustainability?
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2212; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072212
Received: 31 May 2018 / Revised: 17 June 2018 / Accepted: 26 June 2018 / Published: 28 June 2018
PDF Full-text (9653 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
ICT has already revolutionized content creation and communications. In principle, today, everybody with Internet access, the right skills and equipment can produce digital content composed of virtual “bits” and make it instantly available across the globe. The same is now happening to manufacturing [...] Read more.
ICT has already revolutionized content creation and communications. In principle, today, everybody with Internet access, the right skills and equipment can produce digital content composed of virtual “bits” and make it instantly available across the globe. The same is now happening to manufacturing for everyone with access to tools like 3D printers. This inter-changeability of bits and atoms is being called the maker movement, which started as a community-based, socially-driven bottom-up movement but is today also impacting mainstream manufacturing through increased efficiencies, distributed local production and the circular economy. The maker movement thus has significant promise for increasing social, economic and environmental sustainability, but is it currently living up to this potential? This paper reports on work undertaken by the European-funded MAKE-IT project has examined this question through detailed qualitative and quantitative empirical research, including ten in-depth case studies across Europe and a detailed examination of 42 maker initiatives at Europe’s foremost city-based maker faire, supplemented by extensive secondary research. Despite the maker movement’s short history, the overall results provide sound evidence of its important though variable contribution to sustainability thus far. In addition, there is a strong gender dimension showing that females are underrepresented both as users and leaders of maker initiatives, whilst female leaders tend to achieve much higher sustainability impacts than their male counterparts. There is also clear evidence that maker initiatives in close collaboration with each other and other actors in city- and region-wide ecosystems are much more successful in achieving sustainability impacts than others. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
E-Government Maturity Model for Sustainable E-Government Services from the Perspective of Developing Countries
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 1882; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10061882
Received: 11 April 2018 / Revised: 16 May 2018 / Accepted: 18 May 2018 / Published: 5 June 2018
PDF Full-text (3102 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Electric government (e-government) projects in developing countries are facing many challenges to deliver sustainable e-government services. From the existing literature, we found that most of the studies considered lack of technology, and limitations in budgets and human resources as the main hurdles in [...] Read more.
Electric government (e-government) projects in developing countries are facing many challenges to deliver sustainable e-government services. From the existing literature, we found that most of the studies considered lack of technology, and limitations in budgets and human resources as the main hurdles in effective implementation of e-government services. Along with these limitations, we found that the e-government maturity models adopted by developing countries are failing to provide an appropriate strategic plan to deploy sustainable e-government services. While assessing the existing e-government maturity model, we made several observations on the lack of detail, the technology-centric nature, the emphasis on implementation, and the lack of an adoption strategy. This work contributes toward the proposition of a new e-government maturity model that would address the limitations of exiting e-government maturity models, and would support governments in developing countries to achieve sustainable e-government services. To achieve this goal, we considered five determinants—a detailed process, streamlined services, agile accessibility, use of state-of-the-art technology, and trust and awareness. The proposed model was validated by employing an empirical investigation through case-study and survey methods. We found that both the implementers (government) and adopters (users) of the e-government services benefited from the proposed model, resulting in an increased sustainability of e-government services. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Optimal Price Subsidy for Universal Internet Service Provision
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1576; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051576
Received: 19 April 2018 / Revised: 4 May 2018 / Accepted: 10 May 2018 / Published: 15 May 2018
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Abstract
Universal service has been adopted by many countries to bridge the digital divide between Information and communication technologies (ICTs) “haves” and “have-nots”. The key goal of universal service is to provide telecommunications services to “needy persons” at “reasonable” rate. It is, therefore, critical [...] Read more.
Universal service has been adopted by many countries to bridge the digital divide between Information and communication technologies (ICTs) “haves” and “have-nots”. The key goal of universal service is to provide telecommunications services to “needy persons” at “reasonable” rate. It is, therefore, critical for policymakers to make decisions on what is a “reasonable” price or subsidy for “needy persons” so that the targeted users do utilize ICTs and benefit from them. This paper analyzes universal service subsidies in providing subsidized Internet access from a pricing point of view through a hypothetical scenario where the subsidized users being subsidized through a price subsidy and non-subsidized users share the same network operated by a service provider. We propose a service differentiation system based on priority queuing to accommodate both groups of users, and model such a system as a Stackelberg game from both a revenue-maximizing service provider perspective and a social welfare maximizing planner’s perspective. We then analyze the optimal prices that maximize the service provider’s revenue and social welfare respectively, investigate how the revenue maximizing price and social welfare maximizing price are effected by users’ willingness to pay and the subsidy ratio, and evaluate the revenue maximizing solution on welfare grounds using the social-maximizing solution as a benchmark. Interestingly, the optimal revenue maximizing solution corresponds to the socially optimal solution in terms of social welfare under the optimum subsidy ratio that maximizes the social welfare. This suggests that the subsidy ratio can be used as a tool to induce the revenue maximizing service provider to set a price that leads to social optimality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Spatio-Temporal River Contamination Measurements with Electrochemical Probes and Mobile Sensor Networks
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1449; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051449
Received: 28 March 2018 / Revised: 25 April 2018 / Accepted: 1 May 2018 / Published: 7 May 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (6585 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The pollution of the rivers running through the cities or near to them is a current world-wide problem and requires actions and new technologically available approaches to control and restore those waters. In this work, we hypothesized that last-generation mobile sensor networks can [...] Read more.
The pollution of the rivers running through the cities or near to them is a current world-wide problem and requires actions and new technologically available approaches to control and restore those waters. In this work, we hypothesized that last-generation mobile sensor networks can be combined with emergent electrochemical probes and with recently proposed spatio-temporal analysis of the measurement dynamics using machine learning tools. With this purpose, we designed a mobile system to measure five variables: two environmental and three water quality variables in rivers: dissolved oxygen with an electrochemical probe, water temperature, electrical conductivity, air temperature and percentage of relative humidity using solid-state sensors, in each monitoring station. Our main contribution is a first mobile-sensor system that allows mobile campaigns for acquiring measurements with increased temporal and spatial resolution, which in turn allows for better capturing the spatio-temporal behavior of water quality parameters than conventional campaign measurements. Up to 23 monitoring campaigns were carried out, and the resulting measurements allowed the generation of spatio-temporal maps of first and second order statistics for the dynamics of the variables measured in the San Pedro River (Ecuador), by using previously proposed suitable machine learning algorithms. Significantly lower mean absolute interpolation errors were obtained for the set of mean values of the measurements interpolated with Support Vector Regression and Mahalanobis kernel distance, specifically 0.8 for water temperature, 0.4 for dissolved oxygen, 3.0 for air temperature, 11.6 for the percentage relative humidity, and 33.4 for the electrical conductivity of the water. The proposed system paves the way towards a new generation of contamination measurement systems, taking profit of information and communication technologies in several fields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Voice-Controlled and Wireless Solid Set Canopy Delivery (VCW-SSCD) System for Mist-Cooling
Sustainability 2018, 10(2), 421; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10020421
Received: 22 January 2018 / Revised: 30 January 2018 / Accepted: 2 February 2018 / Published: 6 February 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (9736 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
California growers in the San Joaquin Valley believe that climate change will affect the pistachio yield dramatically. As the central valley fog disappears, insufficient dormant chill accumulation results in poor flowering synchrony, flower quality, and fruit set in this dioecious species. We have [...] Read more.
California growers in the San Joaquin Valley believe that climate change will affect the pistachio yield dramatically. As the central valley fog disappears, insufficient dormant chill accumulation results in poor flowering synchrony, flower quality, and fruit set in this dioecious species. We have developed a novel, user-friendly, and low-cost Voice-Controlled Wireless Solid Set Canopy Delivery (VCW-SSCD) system to increase bud chill accumulation with evaporative cooling on sunny (winter) days. This system includes: (i) an automated solid-state canopy delivery (SSCD) system; (ii) a wireless weather-, crop-related data acquisition system; (iii) a Voice-Controlled (VC) system using Amazon Alexa; (iv) a mobile application to visualize the collected data and wirelessly control the SSCD system; and (v) a smart control system. The proposed system was deployed and evaluated in a commercial pistachio orchard in Bakersfield, CA. The system worked well with no reported errors. Results demonstrated the system’s ability to cool bud temperatures in a low relative humidity climate. At an ambient temperature of 10–20 °C, bud temperatures were lowered 5–10 °C. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Sustainability)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Assessing Indirect Environmental Effects of Information and Communication Technology (ICT): A Systematic Literature Review
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2662; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082662
Received: 31 May 2018 / Revised: 12 July 2018 / Accepted: 23 July 2018 / Published: 29 July 2018
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (1217 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Indirect environmental effects of information and communication technology (ICT) are those effects of ICT that change patterns of production or consumption in domains other than ICT, or more precisely, the environmental consequences of these changes. Digitalization as the societal process of ICT-driven change [...] Read more.
Indirect environmental effects of information and communication technology (ICT) are those effects of ICT that change patterns of production or consumption in domains other than ICT, or more precisely, the environmental consequences of these changes. Digitalization as the societal process of ICT-driven change has created increasing interest in the indirect environmental effects of this technology. Assessments of indirect effects face various methodological challenges, such as the definition of the system boundary, the definition of a baseline as a reference or the occurrence of rebound effects. Existing studies use various approaches or methods to assess a spectrum of ICT use cases in several application domains. In view of the large number of assessments that have been conducted, the choices made when applying assessment methods, and the variety of ICT use cases in different application domains investigated, we present a systematic literature review of existing assessments of indirect environmental effects of ICT. The review provides a state-of-the-art overview of the methods used in the research field and is intended to support researchers in designing sound assessments which yield significant results. We identified 54 studies in seven main application domains using 15 different assessment approaches. The most common application domains are virtual mobility (e.g., telecommuting), virtual goods (e.g., digital media), and smart transport (e.g., route optimization). Life-cycle assessment, partial footprint, and the “ICT enablement method” are the most common approaches. The major part of the assessments focuses on patterns of production (e.g., production of paper-based books vs. e-books), a smaller part on patterns of consumption (e.g., changes in media consumption). Based on these results, we identify as a research gap the investigation of ICT impacts on consumer behavior, which could, for example, focus on social practices, and account for the dynamic implications of change. Elaborating such an approach could provide valuable insights into ICT’s impact on society and the resulting environmental consequences. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for Sustainability)
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