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Gartner predicts that by 2010, environmental-related issues will be among the top five IT management concerns for more than 50% of state and local government organisations in North America and Europe.
Andrea Di Maio, an analyst at Gartner, said that although green IT is an important theme for many industries, government organisations will be more exposed to it as they play key roles in regulating and supervising the environmental impact of IT.
He advised government CIOs and IT organisations to take IT issues seriously and prepare for how these issues will affect work priorities in the future.
"IT is at once a contributor to environmental problems and part of many solutions," he said. "Governments will need to deal with both aspects at the same time as green IT leads to new IT investments as well as changes in the way that IT spending is assessed and managed."
Although IT clearly contributes to energy consumption and pollution, it also offers ways to reduce the environmental impact, said Gartner. As the pressure mounts on policy makers to take positions and positive actions towards relieving environmental concerns, government IT organisations that report to them will need to support those actions, and, as a consequence, lead by example, said the analyst.
Di Maio said that many governments - especially at local levels where there is often more direct or politically sensitive responsibility for the quality of the environment - are already investigating and engaging in IT-intensive projects that aim to reduce air and water pollution.
Examples include environmental monitoring, congestion charge programmes, fleet management systems, government building automation, alternative energy sources, teleporting, online services, environment-related changes to tax and revenue systems, and waste management.