Technology, the key to sustainability | SEIDOR
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March 09, 2023

Technology, the key to sustainability

Since the UN established the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), sustainability has been high on the agenda of societies and companies.

The aim is to continue to move forward as societies, to continue to operate as businesses, but without losing sight of the fact that resources are limited and that there are inequalities that must be taken into account and reduced.

The role of technology

As something that touches on all aspects of all businesses and on all spheres of people's lives, technology not only has a great responsibility, but has an immense role to play in achieving all these objectives.

One only has to look at the International Energy Agency's data on electricity consumption by large data centres and compare it with the growth of this sector (both in installed base load and in users and megabytes transferred) to realise that technology plays a fundamental role in sustainability.

While the demand for digital services continues to grow (since 2010, the number of internet users worldwide has more than doubled, while global internet traffic has increased 20-fold), the electricity consumption of data centres remains stable at between 1 and 1.5% of global consumption.

How is this achieved? In part, it is due to the efficiency of computing hardware and cooling, and the replacement of small, inefficient enterprise data centres with more efficient cloud and large-scale data centres.

Efficiency and humanity

But technological advances can also do much to make businesses and people's lives more sustainable, as advances in artificial intelligence and robotics enable industries to automate more processes, allowing them to dedicate human labour to tasks that robots are unable to perform. This not only translates into increased productivity, but also means that more things can be done in less time, using fewer resources (both material and immaterial) to achieve the same goal, thus improving sustainability.

In our personal lives we can also benefit from greater sustainability through technology. Everything related to the Smart home or IoT (Internet of Things) allows us, thanks to connection sensors, to monitor and programme

any element of our home, even remotely, in order to be as energy efficient as possible.

In fact, advances in IoT and accompanying software are allowing the devices themselves to make decisions on the basis of data analytics about when they should be up and running. Washing machines can start their programmes at times when they consume the least electricity, or charging the car at home can be done during off-peak hours.

Indeed, it is expected that this technology will also enable the cities of the future - where every car, phone, air conditioner, light and so on are interconnected - to be much more energy efficient, in addition to being smart.

Sharing economy

Of course, technology is one of the enablers of what is known as the sharing economy.

Younger generations are more aware of the environment and of the need to protect animals and embrace digital technology. They are among the most likely to take full advantage of these possibilities.

The collaborative economy is where products and services are used to connect, transport and deliver goods to customers, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and other harmful practices.

There are many examples of the sharing economy (in transport, accommodation, and so on). Most reduce transport in some way or protect much-needed forests from destruction.

Other uses

Technology has long been a powerful ally in preserving the environment. There are many initiatives that use systems such as GPS, sensors, satellites, algorithms and artificial intelligence to care for protected species and better understand animal and atmospheric behaviour.

From the preservation of marine species to more efficient irrigation systems, the application of technology alone is enough to meet sustainability commitments.