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5 Ways Data is Saving The Environment

by Pearl Moore, on May 14, 2019

We're excited to feature a special guest writer this week, Pearl Moore. She demonstrates and exemplifies one of Arkatechture's most important values - using data for good.

With its growing importance in a wide range of fields, the use of data in our day-to-day lives seems inescapable. In our article ‘4 Retailers Killing It With Customer Data’ we explored its impact on the retail industry, with companies like Amazon using individual consumer data to create a personalized experience. With e-commerce and online interactions becoming increasingly more widely used, the data industry is growing at a very fast pace. A projection from Maryville University predicts that the data analytics industry will be worth more than $95 billion by next year. The site also explains how the “annual data created worldwide will skyrocket to 180 trillion gigabytes by 2025.” It is clear that data is the future. However, while it is most closely associated with the retail and financial industries, data is also making strides to help save the environment.

In this article, we will be looking at five different ways people are leveraging data to perform good deeds.

1. Conservation of endangered species

In an article from Fast Company, it is detailed how data analytics was paramount in tracking down suppliers whose guns were being used by rhino poachers. Using the serial numbers of guns left behind in parks and combining it with external resources such as police data and social media posts, conservationists were able to establish links between them all. Police were then able to use the data collected to make arrests and shut down several gun supply chains. This has resulted in a slow but steady drop in the number of endangered rhinos killed.


2. Helping reduce energy consumption

Some companies are utilizing data to help people track their energy consumption. Alexis Madrigal discussed how this is just one way data is helping save the earth, with one company even providing customers with data on how their electricity usage impacts CO2 emissions in their area. This is especially helpful as most aggregate data does not tell us how energy consumption differs depending on location. For example, converting to an energy efficient refrigerator in New York would only save about half as much in C02 emission as it would in Chicago.

3. Reducing supply chain environmental footprint

From transportation to manufacturing, various parts of the supply chain have a higher carbon footprint than others. Businesses looking to reduce their overall environmental impact can look to a tool being developed by the University of Arkansas supply chain specialist Greg Norris. His tool allows businesses to enter data, such as their source of suppliers and energy consumption, which will then crunch the numbers and generate an overarching environmental footprint for the company. This can help businesses pinpoint opportunities in their supply chain to reduce their transportation costs & overall environmental impact. For large retailers, the positive effect this can have on the environment could be massive.

4. Assisting water conservation efforts

Considering the strain on resources and number of obsolete processes, it is no wonder that Water World finds that the water industry now needs big data more than ever. In the article, it is explained that data can be used in a number of ways to vastly improve water services. Data analytics, for example, can help detect malfunctioning water meters in real time, therefore helping them to be identified and fixed much faster. Similarly, providing customers with real-time data on their water usage, akin to the energy example above, can promote trust between customers and their utility provider, all while promoting the sustainable use of our resources.

5. Optimizing waste management

The waste and recycling industry stands to benefit from utilizing data as well. ‘Big Data’s Role in the Waste and Recycling Industry’ sheds light on how data is being used in the industry to optimize business practices. The use of data allows for garbage trucks to determine the best route to take, which not only reduces emissions but increases operational efficiency as well. Although the utilization of data is still in the early stages of the waste and recycling industries, it is hoped that data systems can one day expand to improve recycling rates too.

Given all the examples above, we hope that this list inspires you to see data as a means for good. For our readers looking to incorporate data to drive operational or environmental efficiencies, please don’t hesitate to send us a message and get started today!

Written by: Pearl Moore

Topics:Data Analytics