New collaboration sees Bristol pairing with media industry heavy-weights to reveal their carbon footprint


By Nyse Vicente, Second Year, French and Russian

A collaboration between computer science researchers from the University of Bristol and major media companies, including ITV and BBC, will help the media manage their carbon impacts.

The 12-month pilot phase, facilitated by sustainability experts, Cаrnstone, will see University of Bristol researchers working with sustainability and technology teams. Companies like the BBC, Dentsu Aegis, RELX, Schibsted, Sky and TalkTalk are working with Bristol University to map the carbon hotspots of digital media content and streaming services.

Recent years have seen a surge in companies setting Net Zero targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. DIMPACT, an online carbon calculator, was born out of this. It is now available for any company offering digital products and services. The calculator covers digital video streaming, advertising services, business intelligence and publishing. There are plans to create modules covering gaming and music streaming next.

It is hoped that DIMPACT will expose, and draw more attention to, the carbon impact of media streaming | Unsplash / Austin Distel

‘When we started in 2019, there was some uncertainty about whether it would even be possible to create a web tool for the digital media industry. Today, we do not only have a working tool, but we have an engaged group of companies and big plans for the future,’ said Christian Toennesen, Senior Partner at Carnstone, DIMPACT's initiator and product manager.

With climate change being an increasing concern, DIMPACT will allow companies to understand their downstream carbon impacts, which will enable more informed decision making to reduce to overall carbon footprint of digital services. Thanks to its promising outlook, DIMPACT has been awarded a major research commercialization grant by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council.

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‘This is a great opportunity to leverage our existing research strengths to help create a ground-breaking tool with real-world applications,’ said Dr Dan Schien from Bristol's Department of Computer Science. ‘We expect this technology to go far. Internationalisation, forecasting, validation and increasing the scope are the focus areas that will drive the next phase of development,’ he added.

Following a successful kick-off in 2019, the DIMPACT project partners have started developing the underlying model and initiated user experience research.

Featured image: Unsplash/ Pinho