DIMPACT is an online tool that sets out to map and understand the carbon impacts associated with digital value chains.
Mapping the carbon footprint of digital services like advertising, publishing and broadcasting is difficult because the underlying technological systems are hugely complex and constantly shifting. Media content passes through content delivery networks, data centres, web infrastructure and user devices, to name just a few, with each element of the delivery chain having different owners.
To date, estimates of the GHG emissions in the sector do not usually take this complexity into account, relying largely on high-level accounting methods (financial spend and sectoral average emissions) for the majority of the supply chain, combined with highly simplified modelling of end user behaviours and devices to assess their emissions.
With climate change high on the agenda, DIMPACT will allow participating companies to understand their ‘downstream’ carbon impacts, right through to the end user. This, in turn, will enable more informed decision-making to reduce the overall carbon footprint of digital services.
This is the first serious collaborative attempt to create a tool that takes the complexity out of calculating digital carbon emissions, backed by some of the world’s most innovative media companies and the world-class researchers at the University of Bristol:
|Participating Media Companies
· Dentsu Aegis Network
What has been done so far?
Through the first phase of the project, which commenced in mid-2019, we have developed system architecture models of the value chain for four content delivery models:
|· Ad delivery
|· Online book publishing
· Business intelligence services
For each model, we have developed a simulation framework to estimate the GHG emissions for each ‘node’ within the framework, as well as the total impacts of the service as a whole.
These models have been made available to participants via the DIMPACT online web platform. This allows users at participating organisations to run the calculations themselves via an online user interface that cuts through the complexity of the underlying systems, whilst also allowing the flexibility to input the relevant data for each organisation.
The underlying models and online user interface are currently in the pilot phase, with encouraging feedback from current users.
What’s the plan for the future?
With a working prototype and engaged participants DIMPACT is looking to build on its initial success in the following areas:
- Refining the underlying models and user interface through technical assessments, further tailoring of the underlying models, and user research.
- Exploring and developing models for additional digital services, that can leverage the work already done to bring DIMPACT to more users.
- Developing training and support materials to make sure that users are getting the most out of the service.
- Improving the accuracy and technical rigour of the tool, through independent review, with the possibility of implementing a technical advisory committee.
- Engaging with third-party providers within the digital value chain (e.g. content delivery networks, cloud service providers, equipment manufacturers) as a group of organisations, to further understand the carbon impacts, and explore opportunities for reductions throughout the digital value chain.
At the time of publishing, DIMPACT is accepting expressions of interest from companies that are interested in joining or contributing to the initiative.
Please contact Will Pickett (William.Pickett@carnstone.com) for further information.