torsdag 1 november 2012

Establishing a Sino-Nordic research network on ICT and Sustainability

Me and my colleague Leif Dahlberg (profile, selected publications) have worked our a**ses off to put together an application for establishing a "Sino-Nordic network within higher education, research and innovation" (call here - pdf file). I was told about the call only two weeks ago, but really, we only decided to have a go at it 10 days ago, on Monday Oct 22. I believe both me and Lief since then each have spent at least half our workday (4 hours/day), but probably more something like 6 hours/day 24/7 working with this application - he chipping in time when I was teaching and me chipping in time when he was sleeping etc...

Today is November 1 and we have in a surprisingly short amount of time put together an (in my opinion) pretty good proposal. I think our application is quite strong and I believe we have a fair chance of getting it approved - even through we know little (in fact we know noting) of the competition at this point in time. Deadline for submitting the application was yesterday, and we will get to know if our application will get funding already in November - lightning fast by academic standards!

If we to get the money we applied for from the Nordic Council of Ministers, we will basically use it to organize two research network meetings per year over the following three years (2013-2015). Each year we will organize one network meeting in a Nordic country and one meeting in China (in the Shanghai area - a requirement in the call). Around 15 persons (network participants) will join each meeting plus local participants. We imagine that 20 to 30 persons will participate in each network meeting. The proposed network meetings (and themes) are as follows:

We have been able to whip up a quite impressive list of mail (will host network meetings) and affiliate partners in all the five Nordic countries (Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Iceland) as well as in the greater Shanghai area in China:

  • Department of Media Technology and Interaction Design (MID), School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Cooperative Information and systems Laboratory (CISL lab), School of Computer Science, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.
  • Digital Media Group (DigiMedia), National Institute for Consumer Research, Oslo, Norway.
  • Broadband Wireless Communication & Multimedia Laboratory, Department of Information and Communication Engineering, Tongji University, Shanghai, China.
  • Department of Communication and Networking (Comnet), Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland.
  • Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS), Shanghai, China.
  • Department of Electronic Engineering, Shanghai JiaoTong University, Shanghai, China.
  • Center for Communication Media & Information technologies (CMI), Department of Electronic Systems, Aalborg University, Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • Users and Media team, ICT cluster VTT Technical Research Center of Finland.
  • Faculty of Industrial Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland.
  • Department of Media and Communication Studies, Södertörn University, Stockholm Sweden.
  • School of Education and Communication in Engineering Science (ECE), Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Sweden.
  • VINN Excellence Center for Sustainable Communications (CESC), Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Stockholm University, Sweden.

This far I haven't written much about what the network will actually do (except meet now and then), or about the content of the actual application. Below is the background (lifted directly from the application). I might write a follow-up blog post if we get funds for for the network.

It has today become a truism that we face global challenges pertaining to sustainable development, climate change, energy consumption (use of fossil fuels) and greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, global agreement about the exact nature of the problems and of possible solutions – to speak nothing of action – seem as remote as ever. One possible way forward is to utilize Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions to lower both the energy intensity of products and services as well as the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. This includes both using ICT to reduce the footprint of CO2 emissions in other sectors (transportation, construction, housing, etc.) as well as reducing the footprint of the ICT sector itself (production, distribution, use, disposal). It has been estimated that the ICT sector can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in other sectors by a factor of five compared to the ICT sector’s own emissions footprint in a number of different ways: through better standardization, monitoring, accountability, innovation and management (see The Climate Group and GESI, 2008).
Sweden and KTH has a long tradition, starting already in the 1970’s, of design-oriented research supporting the development of interactive computer systems that take user needs into account through participatory design and other methods. This approach has the potential to ensure the development of efficient and environmental-friendly systems, but is also a factor in promoting social sustainability, political transparency and accountability, equality and democratic participation. The Department of Media Technology and Interaction Design (MID), School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC) at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, is active in the area of ICT and sustainability in terms of individual research and design projects, undergraduate and graduate courses, as partner in the KTH VINN Excellence Centre for Sustainable Communications (CESC,, as well as in many collaborations with other universities in this field. KTH and Aalto University are for example both main partners in this application as well as core EIT ICT Labs partners ( With this application, we are seeking funds – together with university and research institutions in the Nordic countries and in China – from the Nordic Council of Minsters to establish a Sino-Nordic network on ICT and Sustainability.

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