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How Public-Private Collaboration Created Amsterdam's Green Software R&D Centre

Green IT Amsterdam aims to raise eco-awareness among users of large software systems like government bodies. This collaboration of data centers, IT companies, energy and utility specialized organizations, and public partners like universities, aims to stimulate innovation to green the regional IT industry.

The background

In 2010, 25 organizations from various backgrounds signed up as participants of the newly founded Green IT Amsterdam. This collaboration of data centers, IT companies, energy and utility specialized organisations and public partners like universities, was aiming to stimulate innovation to green the regional IT industry by developing projects together.

In 2012, one of the participants of Green IT Amsterdam, the Software Improvement Group, recognized a need for R&D in a specific niche: energy efficient software systems. With trends like cloud computing, virtualisation, digitalisation and automation of governmental services and city infrastructures the importance of software systems was growing.

Experts were convinced an impact could be made, especially in the region with an increasing electricity consumption of the many datacenters being located in the region, despite all the efforts on energy efficient facilities and infrastructure.

The energy efficiency of the industry has been strongly improved over the last years, Amsterdam being now one of the most energy efficient datacenter regions, but the overall electricity consumption still on the rise as a results of the digitalisation of our lives as you see in all the large cities worldwide.

In 2013 the Cluster Green Software started as a project where industry partners, research institutes of the various universities in Amsterdam and the leading supercomputing organisation in the Netherlands would initiate several research initiatives to gain insight in this green research field and raise awareness with users and developers of large software systems like governmental organisations.

The project has been supported by a regional innovation fund called Kansen voor West, which is supporting projects which are contributing to the sustainability and economic development of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area.

Results

By the end of 2014 the Cluster Green Software project initiated a total of 17 research initiatives, several of them public-private collaborations (results are available here). The topics of the initiatives are varying, from cloud computing, green routing and energy footprints of applications, combining the expertise of the various research institutes within the cluster.

As an unique regional collaboration, the project raised awareness with media and stakeholders. With one of the highlights the visit of the Dutch economic affairs minister Kamp at a leading conference on the digitalisation of the society.

Impressie

Minister Kamp visiting the Cluster Green Software booth at the ECP congress.

The Cluster Green Software project is finishing by the end of 2014, but an unique research hub on green software in Amsterdam has been born.

There are several follow-up initiatives, including a project called Greening the Cloud, a collaboration between the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (which developed a measuring and testing facility called Software Energy Footprint Lab in collaboration with the Software Improvement Group), 10 SME partners and several supporting partners like Green IT Amsterdam. VUmaster

Another initiative is the developed master track of the VU University, Computer Science department, in Amsterdam on software engineering and green IT attracting many students from the Netherlands and abroad.

Last but not least, the VU university and Green IT Amsterdam are taking the initiate to develop a test bed environment for software systems on a city level, both energy efficient software systems and software contributing to the overall sustainability of the area.

This is in collaboration with OMALA, an area development agency (with public shareholders) with a sustainable and innovative vision, and various industry partners.

With software systems being an increasingly important element of the smart cities, in Amsterdam steps are taken to ensure its place within sustainable cities too.