The challenge of our generation – how to use technology to make life more sustainable

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With all the hype and promise that comes with Smart Cities, it can be easy to lose sight of what brought us here in the first place. The world’s population of over 7 billion people cannot continue to grow indefinitely.  Current predictions are that by 2050 our population will exceed 10 billion and the planet simply doesn’t have the carrying capacity to support human life for that amount of people.  In fact, if current trends continue, scientists predict we would require two earth sized planets by 2050 to sustain life as we know it.

At the same time, governments all around the world are finally waking up to the reality that we are fast approaching the point of no return when it comes to climate change.

The goal of the Paris Agreement was to ensure that temperatures did not rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. If that threshold is crossed, the resulting trajectory will likely cause serious disruptions to ecosystems, society and our economies.

The role of Smart Cities

Smart Cities are ultimately about improving the life of it’s citizens and not solely concerned with addressing climate change, however given the current situation it’s hard to look past the role Smart Cities can play in terms of providing a greener and more sustainable environment for future generations.

The above is a harsh reality, but don’t get me wrong, it’s not all doom and gloom. Being part of the technology industry means we have an opportunity to play a role in creating and delivering solutions to the urban growth and environmental challenges we are currently facing.

Technology to overcome environmental challenges

Exponential technologies such as 5G, IoT and AI on their own are not the solution. The market is flooded by providers offering these products, however all too often the offering is not focused on the positive outcomes a city requires, but on the features of the individual technology.

At Cyviz, we believe that impactful innovation comes from first of all identifying a problem and then combining not just technologies, but human experiences and insight in order to find solutions. In the case of Smart Cities, often this involves several stakeholders such as suppliers, government agencies and subject matter experts working together. Providing the right environment for this to take place in is something we have been working on at Cyviz for some time.

Also, in recent years we have seen what can be considered a renaissance in the collaboration industry when it comes to reducing our carbon footprint. Going back a number of years, organizations looked toward telepresence and video conferencing technologies as a way to reduce costs, by reducing the need for executives to travel to meetings. Today, many organizations are looking past travel costs and focusing much more on the environmental impact of travel as the problem that good collaboration technology can solve.

Still, expectations are increasing, whether it be senior government officials or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, there is an expectation that today’s visual collaboration sessions provide life like and engaging user experiences that far exceed the simple two-way video conference meetings of the past (primarily designed for one to one engagements). Users expect hyper personalization when they enter a space and frictionless operation of the technology, they also require the ability to ingest rich data sets and dynamically interrogate how such data is presented. As an industry, we need to keep listening to our customers and keep on innovating in order to meet their future needs and provide the highly collaborative workspaces that will continue to reduce their need to travel.

Reducing our carbon footprint, bit by bit

When it comes to reducing our carbon footprint, every little bit helps and organizations are increasingly looking across their entire value chain at their carbon emissions. Take Volkswagen for example, to support their strategic goal of becoming a leading provider of sustainable mobility, the VW Group has established a company (Elli) that will provide CO2-neutral green energy, generated from hydro-electric plants along with charging solutions to its customers.

Technology providers need to think about what they can do to reduce energy consumption and provide analytics that allow us to optimize usage. By automating the start of a meeting so that the technologies, including displays, climatization and lights, are only switched on when a user walks into a room, or enabling support departments to resolve nine out of ten issues remotely, without the need to travel to the room, we are not just improving the user experience, but also reducing our carbon footprint at the same time.

When you think about what happens when you scale these types of opportunities across hundreds of rooms globally as some of our large enterprise customers have, you quickly see where we can have a positive and measurable impact on our carbon footprint.

Technology will play an increasing role moving forward in addressing the challenges faced by future cities and every organization needs to take up the challenge and ensure they consider how they can reduce their carbon footprint and design for sustainability across their entire value chain and product lifecycle.

For more reading on the ideal operations centers to run Smart Cities, you can download our white paper Integrated, dynamic and secure operations centers for Smart Cities. 

 

Daniel Hanley is a global citizen and technology-believer, who has worked with collaboration and visualization for more than 10 years. Originally from the UK, with tenures in Dubai, Singapore and Jakarta, Indonesia, where investments in smart cities and technology innovation are of major scale. Contact him: [email protected]