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The Marriage between Technology and Sustainability

We are more connected and informed with technology than we ever were. Imagine the time before computers and after. How much have we accelerated communication and how many newer channels are there from Facebook to Tik Tok?

Now consider that it is not just human beings who are connected by technology. Devices, appliances, non-human objects (things) are interacting remotely. From a fridge emailing a grocer’s ordering system to send over some lettuce, to a car arranging for an on-call mechanic after sensing a component failure – its happening - this is the age of the Internet-of-Things (IoT).

For the longest time, the benefits from Technology have come with invisible costs such as electronic waste polluting our waters, CO2 emission from the mass of machines that power our world, and of course the impact to our health. It seemed binary that the cost of progress had meant acceptance of some level of adverse impact to nature, and preserving nature meant giving up technological progress.

Thankfully corporations are growing a sustainability mindset, with formal roles at the C level to inculcate an accountability to preserve earth while pursuing innovation, at all levels of the organisation. These roles are instrumental in communicating on risks and making sustainability a critical consideration in business strategy, to invest in the present to sustain the future.

In this vein, IoT deployments have been incredibly successful in driving sustainable outcomes. A key benefit is the time savings one could achieve by automating processes and performance optimization. Leaving lights on or heating an empty house are massive energy wasting events. Consider small towns and how they could benefit from solution that remotely checks and controls water quality, or a lighting system that dims out when its bright to save energy costs. Or air sensors that can tell us if air pollution is at a dangerous level and we should stay home.

The ability to develop IoT devices is increasingly easier, and accordingly the cost to manufacture or purchase a device. There is an enormous amount of potential to be reaped if IoT developers incorporated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their overall outcomes.

Blockchain improves traceability. That means all supply chain partners joining the blockchain will have visibility of each other's operations, including information about how responsibly products and materials are sourced, shipped, processed and distributed

AI has the potential to accelerate global efforts to protect the environment and conserve resources by detecting energy emission reductions, CO2 removal, helping develop greener transportation networks, monitoring deforestation, and predicting extreme weather conditions. Businesses and organizations could share data and optimize their usage of environmental resources by creating opportunities to share what's working. By using machine learning, systems can notice tiny changes in data, determine issues in real time and adapt to make sure that businesses minimize waste.

In Summary, technology has the power to increase productivity, efficiency and cost savings, reduce product waste, chemicals and resources and measure, analyze and track progress, all of which can help minimize the impact on the environment.

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