Living sustainably is a concern that transcends national borders. Societies around the globe confront a similar set of challenges: not just fostering well-being while minimizing use of the raw materials that fuel it, but also channeling innovation into long-term strategies for success. Professor Bill Tomlinson works at the forefront of these pressing issues, leveraging information and communication technology (ICT) to secure a dynamic and sustainable future.
“Humans evolved to deal with only certain, limited levels of complexity,” Professor Tomlinson says. “For instance, whether I drive to work or take my bike on a given day doesn’t make a big difference to me individually. But when 300 million people make a decision like that, day in and day out, it has implications for global climate change.” The bottom line: Preserving the planet’s natural resources will require us to think and act on a broader scale — and ICT makes it possible.
Getting To Green
With skyrocketing global demand for finite natural resources, some scenarios predict severe shortages. Yet, Professor Tomlinson’s groundbreaking work offers a compelling alternative. “Information and communication technology has brought forth the most powerful suite of tools that humanity has ever had,” he points out. Through his research, Professor Tomlinson is trailblazing the field of “greening through ICT,” designing new environment-friendly technologies that help us reduce our environmental impact. His work on the Plant Guild Composer is just one example: The system is an online design tool that seeks to support the creation of backyard agricultural ecosystems — enabling people to grow food locally and without having to rely on external inputs (like fertilizer and excessive watering) that many current food production systems require.