By Sergio Corbo, Chief Marketing Officer, Veolia
Technology is not inherently innovative, but in combination with service it has the ability to generate truly innovative solutions. At Veolia, our services shape a more sustainable world. However, by combining those services with technology, our partners are able to solve their environmental challenges more swiftly and efficiently.
Consider the case of a municipal water utility. Cities, counties and municipalities across North America rely on hundreds of miles of underground pipes to deliver reliable wastewater services to their customers. Those same pipes also play a role in preventing wastewater from seeping into the environment and being released into public waterways. Advanced flow-monitoring technology can help these system operators identify when a leak is about to happen, and if it happens, where it is located. This simplifies the process of mobilizing employees, saving the city money and mitigating damage to precious natural resources.
It is this type of application, at the intersection of technology and service, that helps our organization prepare customers for the sustainability challenges of the future.
This relationship works in reverse as well: SourceOne Energy, a subsidiary of Veolia North America, offers its customers a web-based energy management system called EMsys that collects, manages and reports energy information from sub-meters, building management systems and utility invoices. By combining this data with our team of energy analysts, account managers and IT professionals — as well as our global Energy O&M and Energy Advisory Services — we can help our clients develop comprehensive programs that optimize their energy usage while accelerating cost recovery and base forecasting.
Cities and commercial customers are not the only ones that can benefit from the integration of technology and service. Our environmental specialists and field experts also use specially designed software to log and safely handle the various hazardous materials they collect from their customers. This ensures a smoother experience for our partners upon collection, and easy government reporting through our Customer Information Management Solutions secure web portal.
All of this data is great, but it’s only as good as the people using it to deploy the necessary sustainable solutions. As consumer pressures force businesses to become more socially responsible, technology that aids in more effective and cost-efficient service delivery will prove to be more of an asset than ever.
Leveraging Big Data – The Dow Chemical Company
What is the most import invention of the Modern Period? It depends on your perspective. I would say Gutenberg and his innovative use of the printing press in the 1400’s. It played a key role in the Renaissance, the scientific revolution, and laid the foundation for a knowledge-based economy. Remember, for historians, the Modern Period occurred several centuries ago.
It has now been only a decade since data traffic on networks exceeded voice and that gap has grown significantly. We are very early in understanding ”What does ‘Big’ data mean?”
Within one generation, my father’s lifetime, he has experienced the transition in this country from paper-based communications to universal access of telephone, radio, television and now the internet and its social media outlets.
The reality is that in this recent phase of communications, the Internet has brought in mass participation in information creation and sharing by most of the people on the planet and now we are seeing rapid introduction of devices into the conversation as well.
“Big Data” is the market’s recognition that there is potential in this conversation and therefore, the mining and the analytical way we manage it can unlock value.
Regardless of your organization’s history or size, your future will have many more opportunities to encounter Big Data. Using and levering this Big Data in a business context will become the easy part. Advancing the objectives of Sustainable Development will be one a of business’s biggest challenges in this age of information.
By Nathan Sell*
Our world is inundated with data collection, from location services to demographic information enormous volumes of data are generated with each passing moment, so much so that 90% of the existing data has been generated in only the past two years. This data can provide enormous opportunities in marketing, allowing companies to target an ideal customer, resulting in eerily relevant ads on social media or in targeted emails. “Big Data” doesn’t stop here, it has a multitude of uses and one of its most important may be the impact Big Data can have on Environmental Sustainability.
Ultimately, Big Data’s influence on sustainability comes down to the notion that you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Through a plethora of metrics that have arisen by which we can now measure the environmental burden of a company’s operations or supply chain, we can also model how changes can have an enormous impact. Early movers in the use of Big Data as a sustainability tool have seen enormous cost savings, and reduced impact, both to their operations, supply chain, as well as product use and disposal. Big Data allows for modelling and scenarios that can alter mindsets, showing the possibilities in both monetary savings as well as reduced environmental impact.
By streamlining deliveries, UPS has saved millions of gallons of gas, and approximately $50million in fuel costs. Ford has reduced the weight of their popular F-150 for their 2015 model by 700 lbs by using aluminum alloy technology. This change could have a greater impact on overall fuel economy amongst Ford vehicles on the road than their electric vehicles due to the truck’s popularity. Big Data alone will not solve our sustainability issues, but coupled with innovation, like Nike’s waterless dyeing technologies, or waste reducing manufacturing techniques, Big Data can fuel a more sustainable economy by allowing for the educated decisions that bring about more sustainable products, and redefine our notion of “premium.”
Big Data, has allowed for enormous benefits to be had by some of the largest companies out there. We must, however be cautious with our use of Big Data. Despite much of the anonymity associated with it, this data is frequently much less anonymous than one might think. We also should consider what companies are doing with their own big data. Exposing an unseen environmental burden could be bad PR, but withholding it from shareholders could end in scandal. Educated consumers must demand transparency from companies we invest in and purchase from. Corporate Responsibility Reporting (CSR) and the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) are driving this transparency which in turn has led to great changes in the behavior of business. The advent of Big Data has only just begun. As supply chains and product use become better documented, it is clear that sustainability is only just beginning to get the attention it deserves. On March 26th and 27th, the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) will host “Sustainability in the Age of Big Data” where companies leading the sustainability movement will share insight into their use of Big Data, undoubtedly leading others to think about what Sustainability and Big Data can do for them.
*Nathan Sell is currently the Graduate Intern at Wharton IGEL and a second-year Masters of Environmental Studies Candidate at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Arts and Sciences.