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Why ubiquitous broadband and green ICT go hand-in-hand

Charles Despins, Co-Chair for the IEEE Green ICT Initiative, has published an interesting article in the Aug. 15, 2017 issue of SmartCitiesDive Magazine advocating that city planners, managers, citizens and other stakeholders should recognize broadband as essential infrastructure, just like water and power.  They should leverage its contribution to economic development, a clean environment and healthy social fabrics, particularly when globalization and shifts in traditional manufacturing paradigms put their communities at risk. It is the core transition all have to make in the first few decades of the 21st century.


Today, efforts to create "smart communities" bring critical trends, too often considered as unrelated, into sharper focus. However, the solutions to all of these trends – including a sustainable approach to smart communities – are intimately linked.

The fight against climate change and the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions remains an uphill battle as tangible actions in this respect are often trumped by economic growth concerns. A broadband strategy to build smart communities, regions and countries can actually be a unifying solution to all these issues if it addresses simultaneously the following three challenges:

  • Widespread availability of broadband access (“broadband for all”)
  • Ubiquitous application of ICT in different industry sectors
  • Adoption and social acceptability of ICT solutions

Achieving all this is a major endeavor but one that must be tackled if so-called "smart" solutions are also to be sustainable – in other words, if they are to reconcile economic growth, environmental benefits and healthy social fabrics. "Smart" communities aren’t necessarily "sustainable" communities. Smart technology may make systems more efficient and autonomous, but sustainability demands more holistic thinking that encompasses technology’s entire life cycle, from manufacturing to use and disposal.

For the complete article, see the following url:



Charles Despins is Dean of Research at École de Technologie Supérieure (ETS), Université du Québec, in Montreal, Canada