The SDIA’s plan to deliver the roadmap to digital sustainability

The SDIA’s plan to deliver the roadmap to digital sustainability
Photo by Jaromír Kavan / Unsplash

Originally written as part of my strategic thinking process around the SDIA's roadmap.

Delivering our roadmap means creating a sustainable digital economy

To deliver on our roadmap means accomplishing a reduction of all negative impacts of the digital realm - both environmental and societal - while creating economic value. These metrics are outlined on our roadmap and help measure progress.

Using the metrics, the entire value chain of the digital world - we call it digital infrastructure - can transparently report its resource consumption, which in turn enables software itself to report its consumption of resources. By 2030, all software will report its own footprint, enabling customer choice, but also new innovation to reduce the impacts.

This creates the first economy, that has data from across the entire chain of value creation and can embed honest and legitimate reporting of its own sustainability into the products it creates.

Further it demonstrates that, through transparency, shared goals as well as collaboration across traditional boundaries, transforming an entire sector to sustainability is possible. And by demonstrating this, it it can serve as a blueprint for other sectors to follow.

To summarise, when our roadmap is delivered we will have:

  • Reached a 100% reduction on the roadmap metrics
  • 100% of all software-based products report these metrics
  • 100% of all resource consumption data is available from across digital infrastructure

A sustainable digital economy requires transparent & sustainable infrastructure (2028)

As the automotive sector, transforming to electric vehicles, depends on the availability of renewable energy, so does the digital economy depend on the availability of sustainable infrastructure.

Of course, in turn, digital infrastructure also depends on the availability of renewable power at scale, but as every sector, it plays a role in the integration of intermittent electrical power coming from solar & wind power generation.

Digital infrastructure itself, however, is not resource neutral. The conversion of electrical power into digital power is complex. From the buildings, to cooling systems, transformers, cables, backup power systems and to the IT equipment itself, server hardware, networking equipment, all the way to the end-user terminals, laptops, phones, desktop computers, routers, wearables - each contain & produce environmental impacts. All of this infrastructure and devices are fundamentally necessary to enable mostly network-based software to operate.

For software to consider its resource consumption, eventually all of digital infrastructure will need to make available the data of embedded and operational resource usage & emissions. Without transparency, there will be no environmentally sustainable software, and thus no sustainable digital economy.

Software must consider its footprint and report on the it’s sustainability

When software itself considers its own footprint, it creates a demand for digital infrastructure to make the data available.