Using Technology to Reduce the Carbon Footprint

The overwhelming majority of world scientists have recognised that global warming is a man-made reality, an escalating threat to life on Earth and the greatest challenge that has ever faced humanity. In order to limit the devastating effects of global warming, the carbon dioxide emissions that are causing it must be drastically reduced within the next few years. Travelling is one of those sectors and an activity that is very familiar to academics.

In conjunction with the OU Festival of Research at the Berrill Lecture Theatre (12th June), Simon Buckingham Shum, Clara Mancini and Elia Tomadaki presented the KMi tools Compendium and FlashMeeting, supporting and enhancing interaction and collaboration during virtual meetings. The session was designed to demonstrate the tools available in a live setting, where virtual participants and a physical audience took part in a debate regarding how electronic tools can be used to save the environment, focusing on whether future generations of researchers will forego the pleasure of travelling to meet with colleagues in favour of electronic conferences from their desktops.

Videoconferencing attendees from the USA, Spain and Greece connected to the live event and shared their experiences of using FlashMeeting to avoid flights for project meetings or in learning scenarios, and using Compendium for participatory urban planning and research organisation. The virtual and physical audiences were engaged in the debate, helping academia to set an example in the fight against Global Warming. One interesting point to note was that, had this very event been conducted face-to-face, in the most convenient physical location, the travelling alone would have generated an estimated 2,733 kg of CO2 emissions. Meeting virtually using powerful new tools does offer the potential to make meetings more efficient for participants and for the planet! The debate was mapped in Compendium and recorded in FlashMeeting.

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