Cover FOKUS Jahresbericht 2018
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“Sustainable digitalization”

Annual report 2018

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The annual report 2018 is also available as a digital edition for browsing

Jahresbericht 2018, Elektronikgeräte, TV
Philipp Plum/ Fraunhofer FOKUS

Themes of the annual report 2018

This digital revolution certainly opens up a lot of new business opportunities, the ultimate goal cannot simply be ‘higher, faster and further’. The decisions that we make today have direct consequences – the climate and our future society being two key areas affected. But how can we turn sustainability goals into success criteria for digitalization? Even if digital sustainability isn’t (yet) the prime concern, there’s every chance of us being able to design it with this in mind. Sustainability doesn’t have to be seen as an obstacle to business development but – as in the case of renewable energy – can offer new opportunities for entrepreneurs.

When we talk about digitalization today, the primary focus is not on conserving resources and achieving climate goals – on sustainability, in other words. But to make the digital transformation sustainable, in addition to thinking about financial aspects we need to look at the ecological and social components. Indeed, digitalisation can lead to an increased consumption of resources, but it could also contribute to the sensible use and conservation of resources.

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Can 5G boost sustainability? How important are open data portals for sustainable development and how do we benefit from digitalization? Ulf Hoffmann talks to the FOKUS Directors Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ina Schieferdecker and Prof. Dr. Manfred Hauswirth about the need for sustainable digitalization.

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There are many elements contributing to sustainable mobility in cities. A well-developed public transport system is as much a part of this as modern cycle routes. Digital and networked (electric) mobility can make a further contribution in enabling traffic to be more environmentally friendly while at the same time considering individual needs.

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We put our faith in the assumption that software programs will do what they were written to do. While there is no such thing as the perfect application, we expect a certain level of quality from software-based systems. These standards are needed to minimize the risk of attacks or failure of the system itself. Additionally, software quality assurance can not only contribute to security, but also to sustainable digitalization.

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Digitalization already plays an important role in our daily lives, even if this is not always obvious. In this context, digitalization can make a contribution to sustainability as well. For example, smart buildings could reduce the energy required for lighting in commercial buildings by more than half.

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Digitalization has led to serious changes in media use. Sustainability has not always played a role in this. But there are paths that could lead to sustainable development.

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If Lake Constance was suddenly Europe’s only source of fresh water, it would be drained within six months. Yet private households account for only a tenth of our total consumption. Most of the resource is used for industrial production and by the water industry itself. How can digitalization enable a more sustainable use of the valuable resource water?

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As digitalization gathers pace, it generates and processes huge volumes of data, with the pool of digital data available worldwide increasing every day. All of which raises the question of how data platforms and the services that run on them can help make the digital transformation sustainable.

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If we take the Agenda 2030 with its comprehensive sustainability goals seriously, not only must we reduce the man-made risks from the dynamics of the changing Earth system, we also have to eliminate extreme poverty and  reduce the inequalities that threaten the social cohesion and stability of many societies. Prof. Dr. Dirk Messner – Director of UNU-EHS (United Nations University – Institute for Environment and Human Security), Co-chairman of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) – writes in his guest article about research and the search for solutions to these social problems.

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