Op Ed: The IT Energy Solution
By Dr. Myles Vogel, University Dean of IT, and Computer Science and Engineering
We’re celebrating the 225th birthday of the U.S. Constitution with a week-long blog series covering topics related to American freedom and democracy. In our final post, Dr. Vogel offers his perspective on Information Technology as an energy solution.
Energy is a familiar topic during election seasons. Presidential candidates offer a variety of ideas on how they plan to reduce our nation’s dependency on foreign oil, calling for innovations within the industry. Our reliance on oil for the economy to function has a number of drawbacks including dependence on foreign nations and the potential for conflicts if our supply were to be cut off. People in our country make sacrifices every day in order to afford a tank of gas. Clearly, we need a new answer to solve this problem.
Many of the proposed alternative solutions are problematic. Our national program put an emphasis on coal as an alternative resource. However, coal is arguably detrimental to the environment and global warming. Environmentalists no longer support wind turbines as a reliable solution. Battery operated cars will need significant increase in overall range before they will a viable option for drivers. Solar power is not cost effective while nuclear power comes with catastrophic risk. The government is trying to impose stricter fuel efficient mandates upping the target to 54mph. Car manufacturers believe this will drive up prices and lesson the feasibility of widespread adoption.
A solution to this problem that is often over-looked is Information Technology. I believe we could reduce our consumption of gasoline by 10-20% by changing the way we approach our daily lives. As a computer savvy society we are able to communicate with each other from just about anywhere via mobile phones, tablets and computers. If we take full advantage of the technology that connects us we might find alternative ways to learn, work and communicate in order to reduce our dependence on oil. Corporations could adopt a shorter work week reducing energy consumption and gas needed for employees to commute. Schools could utilize technology to introduce more online classes which could condense the school week to four days and cut the need for gas to travel to campus and energy to maintain the buildings. Businesses could offer greater incentives to encourage customers to buy online.
Let’s assume for a moment that the majority of corporations, schools and businesses adopted this approach. Imagine the positive ripple effects a major change in our energy consumption like this would have. We would begin to reduce our dependency on foreign oil. Less oil consumption would lead to positive impacts on the environment and global warming. Pollution would begin to reduce. Streets would be used less and therefore a reduction on expenditure for road maintenance. The opportunities are boundless. But we will not know the full cascading impacts of information technology as an energy solution until we get started.
Do you agree with Dr. Vogel? In what other ways could we utilize information technology in our daily lives to reduce dependence on foreign oil?
Image Credit: Tapscape
Dr. Myles Vogel, is the University Dean of Information Technology, Computer Science and Engineering at Colorado Technical University. As a former CIO, Dr. Vogel brings over 25 years of experience in IT for domestic and international firms within the oil, tech and medical industries. Connect with Dr. Vogel on Twitter @CTUTech.