Jason Ward, Dell

Empowering the sustainable cities of the future with technology

Earth Day gives us an opportunity to envision a more sustainability society, says Jason Ward
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Jason Ward, Dell Technologies Ireland

22 April 2022

In association with Dell Technologies Ireland

Data has quickly become one of the most critical elements to enable the success of not just businesses, but society as a whole. Envision a carbon-negative urban environment where buildings become more sustainable through more efficient use of water and power.

On Earth Day, we can imagine this future and the crucial part technology has to play in tackling climate change.

 

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By 2050, the United Nations predicts that 68% of the world’s population will be concentrated in urban centres, as compared with 54% in 2014 and 30% in 1950. Such a rapid shift in the rural-urban population distribution, along with a rise in information and communication technology (ICT), is driving the social and economic transformation of cities. To continue to flourish, cities will need to address and manage population growth, safety, traffic, pollution, commerce and economic growth in a sustainable way.

As local authorities, government agencies and urban planners set out to digitally transform urban landscapes and systems to address these challenges, technology innovations and data should be the driving force behind their vision.

Sustainable digital cities

Data will be central in our drive towards more sustainable cities, by revolutionising the way cities are managed – allowing us to use resources more efficiently. Thanks to hybrid cloud capabilities, IoT sensors, and edge computing, we can now analyse data in real time and take immediate actions.

Recent studies suggest that cities are responsible for up to 72% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with transport and buildings being among the largest contributors. Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), city and police force officials are now adopting smart traffic management with intelligent traffic lights that can optimise traffic flows to save drivers’ time and reduce CO2 emissions.

Managing air pollution can be achieved with smart beacons in real time. These can have health as well as sustainability benefits as they could be used to alert people with asthma to dangerous levels of pollution.

Today’s cities produce vast amounts of data. As 5G advances, edge computing will leap into action transforming what is possible, as data grows exponentially. The deployment of edge computing will, for example, reduce the flow of unnecessary data which will cut down on resources used to cool storage units and enable more sustainable data management.

In the context of commercial developments within our cities, AI is the tool of choice for operators to help drive energy efficiency in most factories and production facilities. By forecasting energy demand and consumption and scheduling power-intensive tasks accordingly, this solution is driving the sustainable factories of the future.

Driving sustainability

Curbing climate change and carbon emissions requires a multifaceted and societal approach. Technology and digital innovation are important tools that can play a crucial role in supporting sustainable societal ambitions. This process starts with us.

At Dell Technologies, sustainable operations are at the core of our business. We are particularly focused on accelerating the circular economy, protecting the planet, and championing the people who make our products. To ensure everyone benefits from the sustainable cities we are all building, we have committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2030 as part of our ‘progress made real’ goals, in line with Ireland’s own climate action journey.

As part of these commitments, we have set out to push the boundaries of sustainable design for our PCs and combat e-waste, the fastest growing domestic waste stream in the world. With Concept Luna, a pioneering initiative developed in collaboration with Intel, we are exploring design ideas to make components immediately accessible, replaceable and reusable – reducing resource use and keeping even more circular materials in the economy. If all the design ideas in Concept Luna were realised, we are expecting to see an estimated 50% reduction in the overall product carbon footprint.

Here in Ireland, we recently announced the expansion of our asset recovery services. This programme supports any brand of laptop, desktop, server, peripheral or accessory, helping businesses receive value from their existing devices and implement sustainable recycling. It is thanks to schemes like this that have made it possible for Dell to recover more than 2.5 billion electronics since 2008.

Committing to Earth Day

This Earth Day, Dell, together with our partners, is continuing to work to harness the power of technology and achieve our shared vision of a sustainable future. To reach this goal, we must strengthen our capabilities to measure our progress, ensure accountability and further invest in collaboration.

While no one person or company can solve climate change and tackle e-waste, we understand the deep impact that technological innovation can have on these existential challenges. That’s why, we are reaffirming our commitment to support a more sustainable, data-led future for all, not just on Earth Day, but year-round.

Jason Ward is vice-president and managing director of Dell Technologies Ireland

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