What's the Latest Development?

The cost of solar technology has fallen like a rock, meaning tough times for companies that invested money when production was far more costly. Today, solar panel installation costs half of what it did a few years ago but technology-driven price reductions cannot continue. Instead, businesses need smarter IT to make dividends. Venture capitalists who invest in clean energy estimate that smart IT can cut the price of solar by another 75%, finally making solar cheaper than coal. By innovating sales channels, financing incentives and customer communication, solar "could account for 15 to 20 percent of U.S. electricity needs."

What's the Big Idea?

IT has the capacity to improve the efficiency of many aspects of our lives, saving the planet precious resources and creating a better living environment. Airbnb, for example, connects tourists with locals citizens who rent rooms in their house as substitutes for hotels, which are three times as energy intensive as homes. Taking a wider view, 2.5 billion censors are connected to the Internet, from GPS locators on shipping pallets to volume sensors on public garbage cans, and that number is set to grow, providing communities with plenty of data they can use to improve the efficiency of just about anything.

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