Your digital footprint may not be quite as virtual as you think – and the environmental impact of the companies that enable your internet access isn’t limited to the metaverse. But for many, streaming hasn’t been a top-of-mind concern.
That thought process is starting to shift, as companies, consumers and standards organizations have begun to consider sustainability practices that may enable both a greener future and an innovative Web3.
The complexity of information exchange in the internet age is an easy explanation for how we separate our digital energy expenditure from other choices that affect the health and future of the planet. After all, your ISP bill doesn’t fluctuate based on usage, like your monthly heating and cooling (energy!) costs probably do.
But the fact remains that fossil fuels power the internet and the majority of devices humans use to access the World Wide Web. Unfortunately, our current understanding of the internet’s energy consumption is crude at best (and woefully inaccurate at worst).
Studying Streaming Sustainability
“[W]e need to gain a better understanding of what the internet consumes from a power perspective versus making calculated assumptions, ” Akamai Director of Corporate Sustainability and ESG Officer Mike Mattera writes for the company’s blog.
The timing is ripe for these efforts.
Mattera notes that “[t]he industry is becoming more consumed with data purity and measurement, as is happening in parallel within the sustainability and environmental sectors.
“As a result, the purveyors of the internet need to consider how to best measure consumption, what changes can be made across the internet spectrum, and what that equates to so that sustainable change can flow across the internet — while not sacrificing the performance that we have all come to expect.”
READ MORE: The Internet Architecture Board Takes on Sustainability (Akamai)
In light of these concerns, the Internet Architecture Board has planned a workshop to “specifically review the environmental impact of internet applications and systems to look at opportunities for improvement.”
The IAB explains that “[t]echnical, standards, and research communities can help ensure that we have a sufficient understanding of the environmental impact of the Internet and its applications. They can also help to design the right tools to continue to build and improve all aspects of the Internet, such as addressing new functional needs, easing of operations, improving performance and/or efficiency, or reducing environmental impacts in other ways.”
The workshop aims to: discuss direct and indirect environmental impacts of the Internet; consider measurement metrics and data; assess current functionality and potential improvements; identify relevant regulatory, business and societal structures; identify and plan for useful technical work to facilitate future sustainability efforts.
Interested in participating in the workshop? IAB encourages position paper submissions; email position paper submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Oct. 31. The committee will contact participants by Nov. 7.
Project GAIA is co-funded by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) and will help enable more climate-friendly video streaming solutions by providing better energy awareness and efficiency through the end-to-end video workflow.
Project GAIA will raise awareness of (and, therefore, accountability for) the energy consumption and GHG emissions and also create efficient strategies to minimize average energy consumption from encoding and streaming to playback and analytics.
Initially, the group will focus on energy consumption data and benchmarking systems with the goal of creating publicly available datasets. These findings will then translate to efforts to “optimize encoding, streaming and playback concerning energy consumption” via iterative testing.
Bitmovin co-founder and University of Klagenfurt Institute of Information Technology (ITEC) Associate Professor Christian Timmerer notes that “[e]ach new generation of video codec reduces the amount of storage by approximately 50%, which contributes to sustainability goals.”
Additionally, Dr. Timmerer says that the prior decade of video streaming efforts, “much was solved using massive over-provisioning.” However, he believes “this is no longer the case, and people are starting to think about environmental and climate-friendly video streaming solutions in the industry.”
READ MORE: The GAIA Research Project: Creating a Climate-Friendly Video Streaming Platform (Bitmovin)
Held April 17-18 as part of the 2023 NAB Show in Las Vegas, the two-day Streaming Summit focuses on streaming business and technology.
A two-track event that includes fireside chats, technical presentations, case studies, and roundtable sessions, the Streaming Summit covers topics such as content bundling, codecs, transcoding, live streaming, video advertising, packaging and playback, monetization of video, cloud-based workflows, direct-to-consumer models, and the video ad stack.
• Defining The User Experience for Live Sports Streaming
• Packaging and Distribution Strategies for Subscriber Engagement
• Challenges and Best Practices for Delivering Video at Scale
• The Business of Sports Streaming: Monetization Opportunities and Challenges
• FAST, AVOD and SVOD: OTT Business Models for Every Consumer
• Challenges and Opportunities in Measuring Video Advertising
• Scaling Cloud Based Workflows for Quality and Price
• Cord Cutting, Linear TV, and the New Streaming TV Bundle
- Distribution and Delivery
- Industry Resources
- AVOD / SVOD / FAST
- Broadband Applications / Infrastructure / Equipment
- Broadband Connectivity (GPON, VDSL. FTTX)
- Connected TV / OTT I Hybrid / IPTV
- Connected TV / Streaming Media Devices
- Research / Data Science, Analytics, Data Visualizations
- Technology Innovation