June 17, 2014

Enabling Sustainability in an Interconnected World

The Expert Panel on the Potential for New and Innovative Uses of Information and Communications Technologies for Greening Canada

Summary

Information and communication technologies (ICT) are more than just gadgets meant to entertain. They are devices, systems, and platforms that are transforming how people live, work, and communicate with one another. Interconnected ICT opportunities have the potential to expand access to information, generate economic benefits, and improve Canada’s environmental performance. The opportunities for ICT to support sustainability are endless; the challenge lies in identifying and implementing those that have the greatest potential to benefit Canada.

This report comes at the request of Environment Canada, which asked the CCA to assemble a multidisciplinary expert panel to assess the existing or potential opportunities for ICT to contribute to a “greener” Canada. The Panel, chaired by David Miller, focused on a three-pillared concept of sustainability, which encompasses economic, social, and environmental benefits.

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The Question

What existing or potential opportunities exist to use Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to create a greener Canada?

Key Findings

This unique, forward-looking report highlights a range of technological opportunities, applications, and practices from Canada and around the world that could help move Canada toward sustainability. It also identifies some common challenges to realizing these opportunities and explores possible solutions. The Panel’s report provides an evidence-based approach for assessing and understanding the potential of these technologies, and offers new insights about building an interconnected and sustainable future for Canada.

Having considered the evidence, the Panel found that the potential of ICT to drive sustainability is currently not being fully realized in Canada. The Panel determined that there are substantial opportunities to promote and support sustainability through ICT by building on existing Canadian strengths and capacities, in areas like technology adoption and physical and research infrastructure. These opportunities range from small-scale changes, such as household water conservation through applications that inform consumers of their water use, to large-scale changes, such as more reliable and efficient electricity systems when aging utility networks are replaced with smart grid technologies.

The Panel explored ICT-enabled opportunities within six thematic areas:

  • Environmental monitoring
  • Smart interconnected utilities
  • Smart interconnected buildings and neighbourhoods
  • Smart interconnected mobility
  • Smart interconnected production
  • Healthy people and healthy communities

Expert Panel

The Expert Panel on the Potential for New and Innovative Uses of Information and Communications Technologies for Greening Canada