WRITTEN ON July 1st, 2007 BY William Heath AND STORED IN Greener government IT

A BBC story about the e-waste directive (WEEE) prompts the question about what we really want from government’s use of IT is from the green/sustainability perspective, and how far present practice is from ideal.

The NAO is about to report on disposal and recycling of IT. The trade association is making rumblings about this (and there is, let’s face it, a great deal of scope for them to do better than they have over identity management, surveillance and data sharing).

My mate Chris points out that government IT and the green agenda intersect in four ways:

i) the science of climate change is very IT-dependent (modelling etc)
ii) IT will be essential for monitoring and responding destabilising weather, environmental degradation and mitigation of damage
iii) government IT uses a lot of electricity and fills a lot of landfill sites. A big server farm uses as much juice as a small town (so cancel the ID Scheme on environmental reasons alone)
iv) Ideal Government (by which we mean intelligently e-enabled services, designed for customers, drawing on quick wins where possible and built on a foundation of trust) will involve less staff, fewer offices, less travel, more efficiency and self-service.

In anticipation of a storm of hot Ideal Government Wibbies I’ve set up a new category: “greener government IT” in which this is to date the only entry.

This Beeb picture looks like the IT waste for 50 people. There are 5m public servants in the UK so I imagine we need to copy and paste this 100,000 times.

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