Research

Finding pathways to a post-fossil, sustainable society is one of the main challenges of our time. The research of the ISR group has the goal to assess and improve the contribution of digital technologies to face this challenge. Our projects are grouped in three broader areas:

  • The footprint of digital technologies
  • Sustainable digital society
  • Modelling and simulation for sustainability
  • Supporting sustainable development with data and tools

The footprint of digital technologies

Digital technologies are a miracle in terms of energy efficiency and miniaturization. Because growth of the ICT sector has been even faster than efficiency improvements so far, the overall footprint of data centres and end-user devices is increasing. How can we measure and minimize this footprint?

  • Green Software: Development and Application of Criteria for Resource-efficient Software (Lorenz Hilty, Yuliyan Maksimov; in cooperation with FH Trier, Öko-Institut Berlin; funded by the German Environment Agency UBA) project main publication
  • Life Cycle Assessment of Mobile Devices: Why are results so different? (Louis-Philippe Clement, Quentin Jacquemotte, Lorenz Hilty; in cooperation with Université de Namur) project
  • Critical metals in electronic equipment: A methodology to model 
    end-user stocks and flows (Esther Thiébaud; in cooperation with Empa and TU Clausthal) PhD thesis related publication

Sustainable digital society

The digital transformation is changing patterns of production and consumption. How can we assess these changes from a sustainability perspective and support the social discourse on the desirablity of different digital futures?

  • Wenn Algorithmen für uns entscheiden: die Herausforderungen der künstlichen Intelligenz (Clemens Mader, Lorenz Hilty, in cooperation with DSI, Empa-TSL, ÖAW-ITA, funded by TA Swiss) project media article
  • Digital Sharing Economy and Sustainability (Maria Pouri) PhD project
  • Using Agent-Based Modeling and a Time Use Approach to Understand the Impact of Digitalization on Individual Time Allocation (Jan Bieser) PhD project related publication(best paper award ICT4S 2018)
  • Opportunities and Risks of Digitalization for Climate Protection in Switzerland (Lorenz Hilty, Jan Bieser; in cooperation with WWF and Swisscom) report
  • Removing Barriers to Videoconferencing as a Means of Reducing CO2 Emissions (Lorenz Hilty, Vlad Coroama, Linde Warland) project

Modelling and simulation for sustainability

Computer-based modelling and simulation methods have been used for a long time to improve the understanding of complex systems, from early socio-economic system dynamics models to material-flow models of social metabolism and agent-based models. How can we apply and further develop modelling and simulation methods to support education and decision-making for sustainability? 

  • Simulation Game: Pathways to the Post-fossil Swiss City (Lorenz Hilty, Andreas Gerber, João Gonçalves; in cooperation with Empa, NTNU, UCS Ulrich Creative Simulations GmbH; funded by SNF) project PhD project (João Gonçalves)
  • DPMFA: Dynamic Probabilistic Material Flow Modelling (Klaus Bornhöft, in cooperation with Empa; partially funded by EU FP7) publication
  • An Agent-based Model of Wood Markets in Switzerland (Stefan Holm; in cooperation with WSL; funded by SNF) PhD thesis related publication
  • Exploring the Effects of ICT on Environmental Sustainability: From Life Cycle Assessment to Complex Systems Modeling (Mohammad Ahmadi Achachloui; in cooperation with Empa and KTH) PhD thesis related publication

Supporting sustainable development with data and tools

Data and the algorithms to derive meaningful information that support discourse and decision-making provide great opportunities for sustainable development. How can we exploit big data and interactive tools for sustainable development?

  • LOTA: A tool to visualize a landscape of opinions in technology assessment projects (Clemens Mader, Lorenz Hilty, Catrin Loch, Stephanie Waeber; in cooperation with Empa) project
  • Food Price Volatility: Political Causes, Effects on Hunger and Poverty, Sustainable Solutions (Matthias Huss, Joachim Scholderer, Marco Haase, Michael Brander; in cooperation with CCRS, funded by SNIS) project related publication media article
  • SafeConsume: Change consumer behavior to reduce exposure to hazards and decrease risk through effective and convenient tools and products, information strategies, education, and inclusive food safety policy (Joachim Scholderer; in cooperation with CCRS, funded by EU H2020) project
  • Computational frameworks to increase effectiveness and efficiency of data collection in Life Cycle Assessment (Jürgen Reinhard, in cooperation with Empa) PhD thesis related publication
  • GARUSO: Stakeholder Participation Beyond Organizational Limits (Martina Kolpondinos, in cooperation with Empa) PhD project related publication