Smart cities
Smart cities

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Smart cities

1.3.3 Sustainability

Described image
Figure 11

Smart technologies can enable cities to tackle their sustainability challenges. However, technology itself can also be a threat to global sustainability if its impacts are not managed well. It impacts on the environment across the life cycle of a product or service – in manufacturing, distribution, consumer use and disposal. Technology is a large consumer of natural resources, including precious metals and fossil fuels.

Energy use is the single largest contributor to the carbon footprint of the ICT sector. According to the World Summit for an Information Society (UNEP, 2003), electricity demand by the ICT sector for industrialised countries is between 5% and 10% of the world’s total electricity demand, with approximately 50% of the electricity used when the ICT equipment is in standby, which means when it is not fully closed down or performing its main function.

Electrical or electronic goods are a significant source of hazardous waste as they can contain lead, cadmium and brominated flame retardants. Informal processing of such waste in developing countries can cause serious health problems and pollution, because regulation of these processes is limited.

There is a huge opportunity to ensure that smart technologies are designed to minimise their impact on the environment and on wider sustainability. The key is to ensure that the benefits of smart technology as an enabler outweigh technology’s own sustainability impacts. An example would be to ensure that a smart energy meter is well designed so that its impacts on the environment during its production, use and disposal are minimised.

OUFL_22

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has over 40 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus