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It is estimated that information and communication technologies (ITC) generate as much greenhouse gases (GHG) as the entire air transportation sector and that this amount might increase fivefold by 2040.
Every time we do a Google search, “like” something on Facebook, send an email – or open a spam message! – a complex and heterogeneous telecommunications network is involved. This network sends these “requests” to data centres all over the world, most of the time using electricity produced by fossil fuels.
Kim Khoa Nguyen holds a Ph.D. from Concordia University in electrical and computer engineering. As a researcher and professor in the Electrical Engineering Department, he is interested in green ICT.
Cloud computing’s main advantage is virtualization, which results in enormous savings both in terms of space and energy efficiency. Most of the energy used by ICT goes to running and cooling data servers. Dr. Nguyen was the architect and main developer behind the GreenStar Network project, the first worldwide, ecological and carbon-neutral data centre.
With the help of senior researcher at ÉTS, Mohamed Cheriet, he developed and tested the first network completely powered by renewable energy (solar, wind and hydroelectric) that operates based on the “Follow the Wind, Follow the Sun” paradigm of network management. These non-stationary virtual data centres move around to be near renewable energy sources, sometimes in the Arctic, other times in the desert, thanks to this new-generation international network.
Demo of the GreenStar Web Application
The Challenge: Collecting and Processing Large Amounts of Data from Connected Things
Major challenges remain, including planning fifth-generation (5G) telecommunications networks and processing data that comes from thousands of connected things. Professor Nguyen has led several R&D projects dealing with these issues which were funded by Ericsson, Ciena, Telus, Videotron, InterDigital, as well as the Canadian government.
Vignes en ville: the Internet of Things Helping Urban Agriculture
Given the wide recognition of Dr. Nguyen’s expertise in IoT (Internet of Things) technology, he was invited to design the technology architecture for an urban agriculture project called Vignes en ville. This project will study how hardy grapevines behave in an urban setting and what might be the advantages. He would like to apply principles used in several regions around the world which face serious agricultural problems, such as Africa.