ALTEN Mag | New world: technological solutions to save the environment

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From green coding to green smart systems: the environment at the heart of digital technology

The Green IT approach: the time has come to optimise IT’s software components

Greener equipment, less energy-intensive computer rooms…the Green IT approach, which has been in place for a decade, is focused on reducing the energy consumption of infrastructure and data centers.

And for good reason, digital services have a gigantic impact.

This impact is partly due to Moore’s Law, which has allowed data storage capacity to increase exponentially, saturating data centres, which are overflowing with little-used services. These services could be replaced by other, less energy-intensive services, allowing a better distribution of consumption.

For the past several years, ALTEN has been engaging in an effort to raise collective awareness of the challenges presented by the impact of digital technology on the environment. With this in mind, both in terms of innovation and the services offered, the Group is putting all its energy into solutions that help its customers achieve digital sobriety. There are two objectives to this: work on solutions to optimise the energy usage of digital technology and ensure that Green IT is no longer just the domain of specialists, but everyone’s concern.

The impact of digital services is huge

10%

of the world’s electricity consumption comes from Digital systems

4%

of greenhouse gas emissions

Combining eco-design and IT: a forward-looking initiative ALTEN is preparing for

Eco-design stands out as an essential solution to meet companies’ economic and environmental objectives.

And more specifically, that means green coding, i.e. ensuring that code uses as little processor instructions and memory space as possible to reduce energy consumption and, therefore, the cost of the machines that process it.

Green coding is becoming essential given the strong growth of data and digital services.

The strong evolution of digital data and services

Data consumption
is now

38 times greater
than it was 10 years ago

The size of softwares
has grown

171 times in 20 years
for the same use

As this model of excessive consumption is clearly not sustainable for the world of tomorrow, eco-design must no longer be limited to hardware, as has been the case since the 1990s, but must now also extend to IT’s software side.

What is the added value?

An eco-design completed without additional development costs for data centres and data transit guarantees 30% savings on the total IT energy consumption.

And this is an even more strategic prospect, since in a world limited by its finite resources, eco-designed coding would guarantee much higher IT performance for companies.

Indeed, one of the benefits of green coding is that it produces quality: fewer processor executions and less memory usage guarantee much faster response times.

In order for eco-design to move past being a trend and to become a standard in the IT industry, the implementation of energy-saver labels and certificates throughout the application cycle will be necessary to achieve high-quality production, since it will be measured and controlled. Professionals and individuals alike will also need to be educated extensively about this approach, since broad awareness among end users about the impacts of their actions on something that may seem immaterial to them will be crucial.

Taking eco-design into account in any software development or information systems architecture will therefore be key to limiting the environmental and economic impact of the data produced. This is a forward-looking initiative, and ALTEN is preparing for it in terms of technology and the associated change management.

For this, Alten is training young IT engineers who join the company–and who have grown up watching computing power shift to the cloud–to have a stake in development. This is meant to leverage the appropriate tools in a measured, controlled, economical and therefore high-quality way for the end user.

Addressing an environmental and quality issue through a green smart system

Because we can only control what we measure, ALTEN, through its multidisciplinary teams, is implementing metrics tools through R&D projects in intelligent systems eco-design.

These systems, while demonstrating greater autonomy, are still complex, come with constraints, produce data, consume energy and cover the entire value chain. The goal is to design a smart system that takes into account the energy consumption of the software, hardware and data communications.

Since the economic and environmental cost of communications require us to limit unnecessary exchanges with devices, intelligence must be as close to data as possible. The proper interplay of these elements, which implies mastery of different languages and a comprehensive vision of energy constraints, is essential to meeting the new challenges, both in terms of the environment and quality of service.

Our Green Code R&D projects:

ALTEN has this expertise, and the company has already applied this to R&D projects in a variety of fields:

  • Rail: for example, by regulating sensors’ consumption in a self-driving train,
  • Aeronautics: electric aircraft in which the energy source becomes constrained where it previously was not,
  • Automobiles: electric vehicle air-conditioning system; tons of data to be processed in self-driving cars to assist the driver,
  • Defence: autonomy of disembarked soldiers, cognitive air combat system,
  • The smart city: smart traffic monitoring; smart lighting.

These systems are all the smarter and more complex given that they will be integrated into new use cases in line with the rollout of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, 5G, and the Internet of Things that are at the origin of ultra-connected cities: self-driving vehicles, data exchanges between infrastructure to better control how various modes of transport are used, smart junctions, etc.

Naturally, this intensified circulation of data will have to be controlled. ALTEN places this issue at the heart of its scientific work in collaboration with universities and laboratories.

Two green smart systems developed by ALTEN

The ALTEN Innovation Department (DIN) offers a range of research work to improve road traffic in order to achieve environmental objectives (emissions, noise) and individual ones (travel time).

1

Effective Traffic Management (ETM) project

Objective: model these new understandings within the city and which is based on three areas
  1. Highway infrastructure intelligence: research on traffic optimisation by using distributed intelligence on infrastructure equipment,
  2. The pooling of information between the infrastructure and the vehicles,
  3. Management of multi-modal travel via a 5G simulator to ensure quality of service for users.

2

smart junction solution

Objective: From simulation to the physical system and from smart sensors to complex systems, together control the development chain of a green smart system from start to finish
  • Green coding: integration of distributed intelligence in software to optimise traffic light management
  • Green smart object: development, using machine learning, of a smart traffic light system
  • Green smart system: implementation of a Smart Transport System (STS) via a 5G multi-agent communication intelligence simulator. The objective is to limit data communications to what is strictly necessary to operate the smart junction while minimising the energy impact. Ensuring that smart systems do not exacerbate digital pollution is the key challenge of green smart systems.

As a multi-sector manufacturer and leading IT partner, ALTEN has the responsibility to be a part of this change in order to contribute to building a fairer world for tomorrow.

It can do this thanks to its eco-responsible engineers and the strength of its organisational model, which allows it to take on projects with a high level of commitment.