We cannot meet net zero targets without a digital-first approach
By Scott McEwan, acting CEO at North
We have reached a crucial point in time where the drive for sustainability and the need to access technology has never been greater. Organisations across the world are striving to transform operations to embrace the digital world while focusing on sustainability to maintain a competitive edge.
However, the good news is that one can support the other and businesses already adopting technology are reaping the benefits in tracking, managing and mitigating their carbon footprint – we’re likely to see more of this in 2023.
IoT technology has the power to truly transform our lives, from revolutionising the ways in which we work, to ensuring that we live in safe and healthy environments. The technology provides us with the ability to access real-time data which allows us to make informed decisions and improve services across communities. That informed decision-making is at the heart of a sustainable transformation. Being able to examine current operations and the carbon footprint associated with such provides a true representation of impact and uncovers tangible solutions to achieve net zero goals.
In recent years, we have found that customers, especially within the public sector, are clearly focusing on embracing technology within plans to become more sustainable. IoT-enabled sensor technology is providing real-time data and trend analysis and is a crucial factor for any organisation achieving net zero target. After all, you can’t tackle a problem if you don’t understand it. Take air quality trends and traffic pollution as an example – there are many ideas on reducing this, but so often they don’t have the baseline data prior to an intervention or change to prove the result. Yet, if we were to measure it before making improvements, and then again after change was made, we would have access to data that can confirm success or signify that more work is needed.
More increasingly, I am pleased to see this being recognised at government level. Earlier this year, the UK Government published a policy paper titled “Transforming for a digital future: 2022 to 2025 roadmap for digital and data” which highlights the importance of leveraging the power of digital technology to achieve a more efficient and sustainable future.
COP27 also emphasised the importance of digital solutions in achieving climate mitigation, with digital technology having the potential to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by one-fifth by the end of the decade. Many climate related IoT solutions were showcased at COP27, such as climate intelligence technologies, robotic beehives to optimise pollination and IoT asset tracking to transmit real-time data on carbon footprints across businesses supply chains.
There are a great number of smart solutions available that provide real time data insights on issues such as waste management, air quality, social housing solutions, building health and water monitoring capabilities. With access to such rich and informative data, councils and organisations have the potential to transform how local communities live and work and can deliver a wide range of societal and economic benefits, supporting a sustainable transformation.
For example, intelligent lighting will help the organisations reduce their carbon footprint through using real time data and trending to avoid consuming unnecessary energy, while the installation of smart bins will align waste collection frequency with demand, significantly reducing costs and emissions. Social housing sensors will improve living environments, ensuring parameters such as moisture control and ventilation are monitored ensuring a healthy living environment for tenants whilst also protecting the fabric of the building and reducing the building’s carbon footprint.
While it is early days as many organisations begin to look at their net zero journey and consider technology within that change, it is likely that 2023 will see an increase in demand for access to such data. The general consensus right now is that not enough is being done. But the tides are changing and regulation will more than likely force the issue from Governments, world leaders and public opinion. Early adopters of such technology can sometimes gain access to grants from Government to help get started and there is a real competitive edge to be gained, while it can of course save money on the bottom line from reduced bills and running costs.