Technology advancement is a difficult beast for me to judge, because I primarily occupy myself with reading and writing about science – while tech and innovation are closely related to that, it’s not my main focus.
Subsequently, when you don’t actively tune into the bigger picture, judging the tech story of the year is a challenging task. Do I go for something to do with green energy, like algae? Or perhaps some 3D printing application? Drones? Robots? Fusion?
While I was browsing through potential candidates today, one little notice grabbed my attention, and impressed me so much I’ve decided to share it here, too.
Best tech story of 2014
In October The Economist presented their annual Innovation awards in eight categories – from bioscience to consumer products. Awarded to “creative individuals who dream up new ideas and turn them into reality,” these prizes emphasise the importance of innovation as a driving factor in economic growth.
One of the award categories is “energy and the environment.” To me this is one of the most important fields, because I’m concerned with the future of our planet, and the consequences of our modern lifestyle.
Hence I was truly impressed with the work of the man who received this year’s energy and the environment Innovation award. It is senior vice-president of technical infrastructure at Google, Dr Urs Hölzle. Essentially the über-IT guy, in this role he oversees the design, installation, and operation of the servers, networks, and data centres that power Googles services – a daily companion on which I rely for much of the little tasks in my life, as do billions of people across the world.
The dedicated and cutting-edge work of Hölzle and his team has gradually allowed Google’s data centres to arrive at a point where they consume less than 50% energy than is the industry standard. They have one of the greenest server infrastructures in the world – as well as one of the largest.
To me, that’s something well worthy of an award an an end-of-year mention.
You can learn a lot about Google’s approach over on their Data Centers page.