A New Cloud for a Sustainable Digital Society

ICT is integral to modern societies as our digital and physical realities are increasingly interwoven. Societal digitalization is coupled with cloud computing, generating an ever growing need for more data storage and computing capacity. Unfortunately, cloud provisioning too often prioritises economic gain over the cost of long-lasting environmental and social sustainability.

This project researches the sustainability of cloud computing, by identifying the related social, technical and environmental risks and benefits, and complementing them with examples of possible countermeasures. We look at data-centers and cloud provisioning from an interdisciplinary perspective, using approaches and methods from the social and technical sciences to understand and tackle the problem in a holistic manner for identifying the building-blocks for future data-centers and their contribution to a sustainable digital society.

We are zooming in on three research questions: What are the societal practices, risks and benefits in the cloud-ecosystem? What are the technical cloud solutions, current and future, that could address (or hinder) societal sustainability of a cloud-based digital society? And, what are the possible countermeasures to the identified risks or (negative) practices that hinder a sustainable adoption of the cloud? It is a collaboration between researchers in the S2 Group and IVM and is expected to yield a holistic understanding of the interaction between digitalization of society, migration to the cloud, and socio-ecological impacts.