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18:37 on Thursday
8 March 2001

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Peterborough spearheads research into IT and environment

Peterborough’s credentials as a centre for innovation in environmental technology have been enhanced with the establishment of a research project designed to study the potential impact of information and communications technology (ICT) on the environment.

The SustainIT project has been launched with a £58,500 grant from the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) - the largest of seven grants made throughout the region under the agency’s innovative fund to encourage the development of ‘clusters’ of complementary businesses in specific areas.

SustainIT will build on the existing expertise of the UK Centre for Economic and Environmental Development (UK CEED), which relocated to Peterborough in January 2000. Its executive director Jonathan Selwyn said: “We have been working in this area for five years but SustainIT will be the first stand-alone centre dedicated to this research in Europe.

“Many organisations are formulating policy and making far-reaching assumptions on their expectations of how information and communications technology will influence our lives and our environment in the future. We aim to establish the facts behind the hype so that policy-makers are better informed.

“The fact that Peterborough has been chosen for this initiative will enhance its reputation as a leader in environmental technology. The city already has a sizable concentration of public and private sector organisations at the leading edge of environmental developments and the SustainIT Centre will help boost that reputation regionally, nationally and, in time, internationally.”

Mr Selwyn said SustainIT would study all aspects of the impact of ICT on the environment, including tele-working, online shopping, e-commerce and the delivery of local government services via the Internet.

He added: “We are already working with the AA and BT on a project to measure changes in people’s travel patterns as a result of tele-working from home. Our early research results have shown that considerable savings in car mileage can be made, although this needs to be balanced against increases in out-of-office visits by managers to home workers.

“Other research has looked at home shopping and has shown that while journeys to shops may reduce, uncoordinated deliveries - often by white vans in urban areas - may cause environmental impact.

“However, as more services become available through the internet we also need to study whether people without internet access will suffer a disadvantage.”

The initial grant from EEDA will be invested in creating the SustainIT Centre and installing new computer systems and will help cover the salary of one person.

January 2001




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