Exploding Video Traffic Elevates Importance of Economically Effective and Environmentally Sound Production, Distribution and Consumption Practices
"The internet contributes more than 3.7% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Within that, video represents over 80% of the traffic that flows through this global network…and is increasing at about 25% per year," points out Wetzel.
A similar trend is unfolding across enterprise networks deployed by organizations of all sizes and industries. The tremendous amount of video traffic managed today by IT departments is now challenging data center operations as one of the biggest generators of corporate carbon emissions.
Adding to the challenge is how users produce and consume video in both their personal and professional lives. Consumers are not only watching videos for work and play; they are increasingly producing and sharing content for distribution on social media and enterprise networks for colleagues, customers, and suppliers. In so doing, demand for encoders -- to support video content creation and the decoders that enable consumption -- has been driven to record highs.
"It is in this context that it is important to focus on the details of video technology. Encoders, for instance, consume significantly more energy than decoders – sometimes as much as 5 to 10 times as much energy, in comparison,"
As a result, in addition to more traffic flowing through public and private networks, much more original content generation is taking place, significantly elevating the carbon footprint of the video sector.
"This is why tracking the impact of digital video consumption across the business ecosystem is becoming increasingly important," he explains. "Industry leaders must balance sustainability with the ever-growing corporate and consumer demand for video content. They must take responsible steps to initiate efforts to reduce the carbon footprint on the entire value chain of this industry," he says.
Carbon footprint assessments must encompass all direct and indirect emissions within the value chain.
"This should include everything from the extraction of raw materials, design, manufacturing, transportation, and even the final recycling of the devices. All key players will need to actively participate in reducing energy consumption across their segment of the ecosystem," states Wetzel.
VITEC Ramps up GreenPEG Initiative
VITEC is pursuing efforts to enable sustainable video operations through a comprehensive initiative -- GreenPEG -- to achieve carbon footprint reduction objectives in a measurable and accountable manner.
In 2021 VITEC invested in photovoltaic panels and batteries to generate electricity for their manufacturing needs in Germany and the United States. "In 2022, we built a facility in France that is up to the latest standards in energy efficiency. In 2023, we are upgrading our facilities in Scotland to include high-performance heat pumps," says Wetzel.
VITEC has also moved its U.S. logistics center from the West Coast to the East Coast in 2022 to consolidate and reduce the surface area of its supply chain. "This means fewer trucks must travel fewer miles to meet our logistical needs. By the end of 2023, we will achieve a similar outcome in Europe by moving to a single logistics center," he reports.
VITEC is embracing energy-efficient design principles by integrating eco-friendly requirements into its design control process and architecture. "This has already had a major impact on our hardware and software designs," says Wetzel.
From a recycling perspective, VITEC is only using raw materials with the best carbon footprints whenever possible to ensure that packaging and components on its products are easily recyclable.
Finally, VITEC will integrate real-time energy monitoring and reporting on its future products. "This will allow our customers to assess their products' overall power consumption and therefore be able to select the best mode for any specific application,"
These steps have contributed significantly to VITEC's ability to minimize its carbon footprint. Any remaining emissions are offset by financing United Nations-approved projects.
"More, however, needs to be done," says Wetzel. "It is not enough for a single company to engage in sustainability initiatives. An industry-wide effort is required. Our next step is to help guide the next video compression standard to ensure it is more eco-friendly and fast-enabled. To do so, we are assembling a consortium of industrial and academic partners. We want to extend an open invitation to any other organization willing to join us," he concludes.
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