Richard T. Watson, the J. Rex Fuqua Distinguished Chair for Internet Strategy in the University of Georgia Terry College of Business, has received the LEO Award for “exceptional lifetime achievement in information systems” from the Association for Information Systems.
A UGA professor since 1989, Watson was presented the award at the 2011 International Conference on Information Systems, held Dec. 4-7 in Shanghai, China.
The LEO Award is the highest honor given by the AIS and is named after one of the world’s first commercial applications of computing, the Lyons Electronic Office.
Watson has published more than 150 journal articles and written books on electronic commerce, data management and energy informatics. His research has been accepted by leading academic and practitioner journals and has been translated into several languages. His most recent research focuses on information systems leadership and energy informatics.
Energy informatics is an emerging sub-discipline of information systems that seeks to optimize the efficiency of flow networks—such as electricity and oil—or even packages and vehicles.
The study of energy informatics enables systems analysts and developers to implement information systems able to reduce the consumption of both fossil fuels and electricity. The benefit of creating these systems is to ultimately ween our society off of limited resources and reduce their consumption. By deploying multiple systems to different resources of energy, the benefits for society are able to begin to gradually grow.
Energy Informatics is concerned with the analysis, the design, the implementation, and the use of systems to increase the efficiency of energy demand and supply systems. It is based on the recognition that flow networks, in their various forms (e.g., electricity, air, water, etc.), are the major suppliers and consumers of energy, and their efficiency can be improved by collecting and analyzing appropriate information to optimize their performance. Energy informatics can be succinctly represented by the equation:
Energy + Information < Energy
By implementing systems that are able to fufill the information variable of this equation, energy corporations can harness the full potential of the equiptment they use. While these systems may be complex and difficult to deploy, the benefits that are able to be reaped are far reaching in consequences given that they reduce energy consumption and improve efficiency.
Many practitioners and scholars do not carefully distinguish between information technology (IT) and information systems (IS). For us, the terms are quite distinct, and we believe it is far more important to focus on systems than technology. Technology gains its value from being part of a system, and companies should be thinking about their investment in systems rather than technology. Let us clarify what we mean by IT and IS, and the implications for understanding the difference between Green IT and Green IS.
An information technology transmits, processes, or stores information.
An information system is an integrated and cooperating set of people, processes, software, and information technologies to support individual, organizational, or societal goals.
In the modern climate of global warming, rising energy costs and carbon trading, measurement and optimisation of resource usage is becoming increasingly important. One example is the management of building energy usage. Buildings account for approximately 1/5 of the world's energy use, but there is very little control or optimisation to minimise that use.
Computer models and simulations are essential tools for visualizing data, for predicting future trends in energy production and for discovering safe and reliable energy systems to support human needs. Energy informatic technology also provides information in a format suitable for developing appropriate management plans that optimize energy resources while protecting the environment.
The Center for Energy Informatics (CEI) is an Organized Research Unit (ORU) housed in the Viterbi School of Engineering, dedicated to not only improving and expanding Information Sciences as they relate to energy but also cultivating the future workforce for the emerging energy economy. The project concentrates on software engineering, data management and integration, social computing and behavioral studies, and system and security. The CEI focuses on creating a dialogue between industry leaders and researchers in the Information Sciences field in order to successfully find viable solutions to the world's energy problems.
That may change soon. “We expect that CIOs will increasingly be given responsibility for finding solutions to reduce corporate energy consumption as the idea of energy informatics gains acceptance,” Watson says.
Energy Informatics is founded on the recognition that flow networks, in their various forms, are the major suppliers and consumers of energy. The efficiency of flow networks can be improved by collecting and analyzing appropriate information to optimize their performance.
During the fall 2011 semester, a new elective was offered by the MIS department: Energy Informatics. Energy Informatics has to do with the analysis, design, and implementation of information systems to increase energy efficiency. The class, taught by Maric Boudreau, included a variety of topics, such as sustainability, renewable and non-renewable energy, green IT, green IS, logistics and transportation, the smart grid, smart buildings, and urban infrastructure. In additional to formal lectures, students had many hands-on exercises to understand basic sustainability data and to analyze data streams generated by diverse energy systems.