How ICT Can Enable Sustainability
20 October 2022Digital Transformation, SustainabilityCollaboration, Connected Construction, efficiency, smart cities, waste reduction
When any technology is first introduced, it’s usually expensive and adopted primarily by people and companies that can afford it. As more and more users adopt, competition brings the price of that technology down, making it more affordable, more accessible and more popular.
While we can all see the opportunities and changes in our lives due to technology (note how important it is to people to have consistent cell phone and internet service), sometimes it’s harder to see how that can correlate to sustainability. Computers were a novelty before they changed the way society functions. Today we can hardly imagine running a business (or our lives) without them.
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The advancement of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) has the potential to reduce waste and promote sustainability by enabling new ways to collaborate, improve worker efficiency, save on transportation costs, further innovation, and improve access to services.
In an urban setting, community-driven efforts for using data to improve public services and sustainability can be energetic and self-sustaining. There are many ways to use data in this way, and cities worldwide are currently solving problems with ICT. Following are three that were highlighted on the Autodesk website for using advanced ICT to reduce waste and enable sustainability:
- Centralized – Singapore began investing in its Smart Nation program in 2014. One initiative of many focuses on local residents and commuting workers. Data analytics were provided to bus and shuttle operators so they could be responsive to commuter demands and optimize their fleet management and operations. The Smart Nation program also offers resources to assist individuals and businesses reskill for digital literacy, so they can leverage opportunities for the country’s increasingly digital economy.
- Less Formal – According to Autodesk, by 2015 about 82% of people in Nairobi had access to mobile phones. Using mobile phone data, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers collaborated with Columbia University and University of Nairobi on “Digital Matatus.” The project digitally mapped the movement of city residents in what were characterized as mostly informal transit networks. The resulting platform helps Nairobi make transit options more predictable for the users and is being used to develop a bus rapid transit system. Similar work was done for Latin American and Caribbean cities.
- Experimental – In an effort to end fatal and serious traffic crashes, the City of Boston has been working with Verizon to test smart cities services to understand hazards on city roadways. Using cameras and sensors, the City is learning about how cars and cyclists navigate and interact on the streets. Another app, for real-time parking navigation, enables drivers to locate vacant spots instead of driving around and around neighborhoods looking for parking. According to Autodesk, citizen-enabled initiatives are also underway to improve the delivery of utilities and optimize the flow of traffic.
New technology for sustainability becomes intertwined with quality of life when it positively impacts health, transportation, social/urban living, the environment, and business. This has happened with other innovations through the years, and it’s happening now with ICT.