Analysis and modelling of the environmental impacts of digital services. Application to the LRTZC project
Digital technology as a whole is responsible for a significant proportion of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions – nearly 10%. It contributes to the plundering of non-renewable resources and leads to the exploitation of whole populations. You only have to go to the authoritative website https://www.greenit.fr/ (in French) to realise. The reality of this situation must prompt all stakeholders to consider the environment henceforth as one of the major goals of digital technology. A new, differentiating, innovative and sustainable field is emerging: Sustainable IT. This thesis marks an initial milestone, unique in France and on the international stage, towards a coherent, equipped approach to sustainable IT.
Digital services, from web services through to sensors and connected objects, harbour tremendous potential for tackling the environmental challenges. They enable observation and better monitoring in real-time, for example, of the state of our planet, air, forests and coastline. They also represent a powerful driver for optimising our energy, food and mobility systems. But optimising existing systems will not be enough to address the environmental challenges. We now need to consider digital services from an eco-design perspective: from methods for defining functional units to metric of use and code quality tools – all the way to software end-of-life and the data life cycle.
Educating the different technology stakeholders in eco-design would change mentalities for the better and usher in good design practices. Tools therefore need to be found that will make tomorrow’s applications eco-responsible. Engaging in this eco-responsible transition requires businesses to rethink their working methods, which will certainly have repercussions for the overall management of an organisation. It is therefore important that the design support tools go beyond mere computer code analysis to offer managers an overview (dashboard) of their corporate process along with the provision of customised alternatives backed up by explanations, from both a technical (product code) and managerial point of view. Accordingly, each alternative outlined may be quantified by a direct measurement of the impact on the overall process, thus guiding the decision-maker in the eco-design approach.
Such complete design does not yet exist to our knowledge. Some stakeholders are focusing on code quality or line of code/watts. These are approaches that can be questioned if the problem is not considered from an overall perspective.
The aim of this thesis is therefore to propose an overall framework for considering the eco-design of digital services.
Barriers to overcome include:
- Formally establishing measurements of good eco-design practices
- Proposing a clear and shared KPI (type of metrics, deployable in the form of a certification, such as Accessiweb for example) and confirming its viability
- Outlining a LCA method (life cycle assessment on digital services)
- Extending to IoT.
- Proposing service end-of-life management
- Working on the return on investment of digital service eco-design
Guillaume Bourgeois is a software developer with a sound interdisciplinary skill set in computer programming and the Supply Chain, data visualisation, interactive software programming as well as AI and Big Data.
With a Computer Science Master’s degree majoring in IT Systems for Services and Industrial Logistics Engineering (SIGLIS) at the University of Pau and Pays de l’Adour (UPPA). He has gained aeronautical experience following 2 years of work-linked training completed during his Master with the company DAHER and his Bachelor’s traineeship at SAFRAN.