Earth Week Discovery: What is data tracking and how can businesses use it to protect the environment?


Climate change will have a massive impact on businesses in a variety of ways. Floods, droughts, wildfires and other natural disasters will cause major problems for properties, transportation and supply chain links, not to mention farms and the tourism industry. Because much of the climate crisis is caused by businesses through single-use plastics, fossil fuel production and waste generation, businesses need to achieve decarbonisation before the effects of the climate crisis are irreversible. This can be achieved through the implementation of data tracking technology: a process choosing specific metrics to help track and analyse where a company’s climate practices are lacking so they can be improved. Here we have compiled a list of the top ways a business can eliminate its negative impact on the planet while still making employees, shareholders, regulators and customers happy.

  1. Use AI and machine learning: Technology can help your business break data down into subsets and show how each business operation, be it tracking supply chains to working with partner companies, affects the environment. In other words, technology deals with the data that is often too robust to examine manually. For example, Microsoft used artificial intelligence and machine learning to learn from its climate-related data which allowed it to become the first global carbon-neutral company.
  1. Track your investments:  Measuring sustainability is not easy, but having the right metrics and knowing what to measure helps immensely. For instance, Amazon built detailed models exhibiting factors that affect the environment such as the grams of carbon dioxide released. This information allows the company to pinpoint the amount of carbon dioxide used in every step of the process: packaging, data centres, transportation, etc which can be shared. Once metrics like these have been developed, your business should communicate them to employees and stakeholders to incentivise sustainability goals within the company.  
  1. Invest in IoT solutions: Sensors – collectively known as the internet of things (IoT) – can be placed widely on buildings and in the environment to allow more efficient monitoring of everything from air and water quality to evaluating factory emissions. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, IoT solutions could help cut carbon by 15 percent “through solutions in energy, manufacturing, agriculture and land use, buildings, services, transportation and traffic management.” IoT increases accessibility to more accurate remote data which in turn can help your business better understand its footprint, the exact problem area and how to combat it. 
  1. Work with climate data businesses: Currently, environmental monitoring is expensive as well as time- and labour-intensive, and the volume of climate data can be daunting. Thankfully, there are businesses that can help. Copernicus is the Earth observation component of the European Union’s Space programme which looks at our planet and its environment to benefit all European citizens. From start-ups to multinational NGOs, this EU climate data business works with a wide range of businesses and organisations, offering data and tools you can tap into right now; quality-assured information shared on a free, full and open access basis; and a comprehensive user support service. Working with Copernicus, your business can adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.

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