Earth Day 2021: How emerging technology can help protect the planet

  • - Written by Ronan Carey, Senior Manager - Ireland Enterprise at Dell Technologies

    As its scope and severity becomes increasingly clear to all, there is no doubt that climate change represents an economic, social, and environmental challenge. It will require businesses and organisations in all sectors across Northern Ireland to look at the ways in which they can transform in order to protect the health of our planet.

    In recognising the urgency of the situation, Earth Day 2021 provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the role of emerging technology in advancing sustainability. From supporting climate change research to helping develop mitigating efforts to fostering the development of the circular economy, new technologies have the potential to create a greener future.

    AI enabling efficient farming

    Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning have demonstrated their capacity to promote more sustainable practices within some of Northern Ireland’s most important economic sectors.

    With agriculture accounting for up to 70% of water use worldwide and over 40% in developed areas of the world such as Northern Ireland, there is a growing need to use our water reserves efficiently.

    Through the use of these new technologies, helping to monitor the soil and provide data-driven insights into weather conditions, farmers can reduce the amount of water their crops need to thrive with the technology helping them to understand precisely the amount of water required and ultimately minimising waste.

    Robotics & 5G fighting water pollution

    With clean water essential not only to our human health and wellbeing but also the environmental ecosystem, there is a need to tackle the amount of plastic and rubbish entering our waterways and oceans.

    A staggering eight million tons of plastic are dumped into the world’s oceans every year. Today, only a third of rivers in Northern Ireland have “good” water quality with only one of Northern Ireland’s 21 larger lakes meeting that threshold.

    Advanced robotics can help solve this pressing challenge. Autonomous water drones are now being deployed in many parts of the world to remove plastic waste from harbours, rivers and canals. Using 5G connectivity, these drones can transmit real-time data so that authorities can pinpoint areas of significant pollution and take more targeted actions into the future.

    Fostering Circular Economy

    When it comes to fostering the circular economy, technology can prove to be a key enabler, helping to provide scalable solutions that can drive real value for the environment and the economy.

    Cloud technology will be central to this, allowing organisations to reduce the number of services, storage, appliances and networking devices that a physical configuration requires. This has the potential to create multiple benefits to helping to achieve a circular economy.

    For example, virtualisation allows for greater utilisation of existing resources, which means less equipment and less energy demand. Getting the most from the equipment in use also reduces the amount of resources needed to build new equipment. Leaders within the telecommunications sector have been able to reduce the power costs associated with their storage footprint by a quarter by embracing the very latest technology.

    Accelerating the circular economy is at the heart of Dell Technologies Progress Made Real sustainability goals. By 2030, we have committed to having more than half of all product content being made from recycled or renewable material and recycling an equivalent product for every product a customer buys.

    Over the past number of years, Dell Technologies has taken pride in being conscious stewards of our own technology and products, designing with the entire life cycle in mind with 90% of eligible products currently meeting the ENERGY STAR standard.

    Earth Day 2021

    When it comes to protecting the planet, there is no room for complacency. The only way to achieve real change is for all sectors of the economy and society to embrace transformation – both in how we harness the power of emerging technologies and how we do business. 

    Over the past year we’ve seen how much we as a society can achieve when we all work together for a common goal. Science, technology and research have all played a role in creating vaccines to protect us from COVID-19. If we can all work together in a similar way to help tackle climate change and build more sustainable practices into our daily lives, imagine the impact we could have.

    This Earth Day, Dell Technologies joins businesses and organisations across Northern Ireland to reaffirm our common commitment to support a greener and more sustainable future for all.

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