There are two concepts that have recently turned into buzzwords – “big data” and “sustainable development”. Their popularity depends on the fact that nowadays more and more young people find professional realization in the IT sector and many of them are concerned about the problems of sustainable living. As an additional factor, governments are being forced by the international organizations to use and invest in tools that transform primary data into well structured analysis for sustainable needs.
Big data and sustainable development
A recent article in Guardian Sustainable Business explores how this phenomenon called “Big Data” can be a game changer for sustainability. The author claims that advances in data gathering, computing power and connectivity mean that we have more information than ever before at our fingertips. IBM estimates that by 2020 there will be 300 times more information in the world than there was in 2005 – a total of 43 tn gigabytes. And this data is being put into good use. Big data has the potential to help companies and improve operations and even make faster, more intelligent decisions. Moreover, gathering and analysing millions of data points can be difficult, but big data can tell governments where to focus their efforts. We as citizens can also benefit from its analysis to live more sustainable lives.
Big data in action
An excellent example and inspiration for this article is one reinvented tech item that hasn’t seen much innovation in decades: the thermostat. The Nest learning thermostat is an electronic, programmable, and self-learning wifi-enabled thermostat that optimizes heating and cooling of homes and businesses. And here is the great part – it conserves energy and helps people use it more wisely. Not only the device is both well-designed and with sustainable features, but also provides behavioural and learning analytics. Which means — gathering and analysing a huge massive of information. Over the course of a week or so, the thermostat learns from the manual adjustments and begins to set its own schedule based on the owner living patterns. Those thermostats are producing around 5 billion data points each month that can also be used for valuable environmental researches.
Finding big benefits
This is one of the amazing possibilities of using data to do things better across a range of industries, and to work towards our sustainable future. So, if only we, as information society, put words into action and apply stronger environmental awareness (both locally and globally) IT development and big data will manage to promote the sustainable life we need to live.
I welcome your thoughts and comments.
1. Is Big Data “big” enough to influence the way corporations understand the impact of their business on the environment?
2. Is Big Data the right tool to ensure sustainable future?
3. Can we use Big Data revolution for sustainable development?