Can Data Save the World

In a brilliant keynote address at HxGN LIVE, Ola Rollén, Hexagon President and CEO, shows how we’re leaving big efficiency gains on the table. He lays out Hexagon’s far-reaching vision for putting data to work in our organisations to reverse the trend of resource depletion and waste overwhelming Earth’s systems.

Can Data Save the World

Can Data Save the World

Our planet has witnessed some of the most phenomenal changes far and wide. From meteor showers to ice ages that lasted thousands of years- she has seen it all.

Human influence has become a major barrier when it comes to the Earth and its natural balance of the ecosystem. 

We have already eradicated almost 15% of the fish stocks, 50% of plant species, and nearly 80% of all marine mammals and 83% of land mammals.

Our struggle today is to “save the world” or “save the planet”, but does the planet need saving? Or does it need to flick its little finger and wipe all humans to start again?

The loss of biodiversity has grave consequences on the planet. The pollution, extinction, and deforestation have led to increased pressure on them, causing rising temperatures, rising sea levels, and lowering air quality.

Depletion of resources over time has had a severe negative impact on the environment. The increase in plastics has even led to a study to find that an average human consumes almost 70,000 particles of microplastics every year.

Earth has existed for 4.6 billion years, and humans only appeared 250,000 years ago. This implies, we lived for 23 minutes out of a whole year, and have already consumed more than 30% resources planet has to offer.

The industrial revolution that started in 1804 embarked us on a journey of exponential growth. It has led to population growth and economic development. 

As we have grown as a species, our populations, productivity, nations, political alliances, and economies have grown. 

The growth that has occurred might have been fast-paced and exponential. It was not well planned or executed. This implies growth was not thought out and done well- causing severe planet pressure.

Collectively, we have spent too much time admiring the problem rather than trying to find a solution. And this is where data comes into the picture.

To think for the future, integrated plans need to be made that can be executed at a large scale. Here, large does not apply at national levels- but at multinational levels employing and collaborating many countries working towards a common cause.

Collectively, we as a planet produce almost 36 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide in a year, which is a staggering number for any planet with living species to have. Most of this comes from energy production, waste production, and even industries.

Data can be used to drive productivity, efficiency, and quality across all sectors and reduce CO2 production across all sectors. It is a pressing matter and requires immediate attention.

Everyone talks about electric cars, but we almost have 2 billion cars on this planet. But if everyone bought an electric car, we cannot generate that kind of electricity to power that many electric cars.

Using data to improve efficiency in transportation and aerospace can help save almost 3 billion metric tonnes of CO2 production. Manufacturing of cars and other transportation systems can be done basis data to increase the effectiveness of the output and minimize collateral costs.

In agriculture, data can help feed more people with less pollution. One-third of what is produced is wasted. Efficiency could be doubled by combining geospatial technologies and positioning technologies with autonomous technologies to create what is called precision agriculture. With this, we georeference seeds- we water where we plant seeds, we put fertilizers only in areas that require it, and we only use pesticides when it is necessary.

The CO2 emissions can be reduced in agriculture by almost 50%, and the output can be doubled. This is a prime example of using data to scale an industry that is lacking efficiency. 

Industries can be integrated with data to increase their efficiency from 40% to higher numbers. Industries are responsible for almost one-fifth of all greenhouse gases. There are huge opportunities to scale this by reducing yield losses. 

Data can be integrated across sectors, economies, and industries to ensure that the decisions made are backed by information and statistics. This not only helps make precise decisions, but it also helps reduce wastage and saves resources. Geospatial information and data have played a key role in almost all industries in the modern era. 

It is essential to realize that the only way out is through. And with data, going through it becomes science-backed, relevant, and in turn, more accessible.