17 Dec

Technology – The Enabler

The effects of climate change are now upon us and will continue to affect us and future generations in major, unpredictable ways. There is a developing consensus in all walks of life that the need for cleaner, greener ways of operating are becoming increasingly urgent. Technology – in all its shapes and colours, is the key enabler for this. Like all tools however, its efficacy depends on the stroke of the user.

In this short article I wish to outline at a high level some of the positive differences that technology can make to large scale projects, their implementation, and the bottom line of business, noting that decisions relating to these matters increasingly involve environmental concerns.

The Power to Effect Change

The natural world is in an increasingly synchronous, if not harmonious, relationship with the demands of our continuous development.
Yet technology holds answers for the transition to a greener economy – the development of renewable sources of wind, wave and tidal power, smart electricity grids, hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles providing some obvious examples.

A key role for technology is in the effective collecting, monitoring, and handling of data required for the enactment of any large scale environmental protection initiative.
Technology and the associated software can be used by government, state and semi-state organisations in the operation of key state infrastructure and programmes required to effectively manage the required transition to a greener more sustainable economy.

Some examples of such programmes in operation here in Ireland include EirGrid’s DS3 Progamme for Delivering a Secure, Sustainable Electricity System, the Environmental Data Exchange Network (EDEN) used for the exchange of complex reporting and monitoring information with the EPA, and the large number of devices and systems required to monitor the standard of water quality and levels of pollution in surface and ground water under the Water Framework Directive (WFD).
All of these systems have technology and software at their core, driven by the need to sustain our environment in the most efficient and well-informed way possible.

Greener Business

The benefits of technology to businesses’ pockets and the environment are becoming increasingly coupled.
In the shorter run, businesses which are greener than their competitors have proven and will increasingly be able to leverage the lower energy costs, improved customer sentiment, and increased security offered by greener alternatives to more traditional modes of business.

Relatively quick green improvements include; moving IT infrastructure, services and storage to the cloud, minimising printing (or going paperless), powering down devices after use, improving customer service through software solutions, or identifying where key energy savings can be made using smart-grid technology. Entire technology industries now service these key cornerstone cost and environment savers.
In the longer run technology must be used to manage the increased complexity that conducting business now demands. The globalisation of business presents huge opportunities and challenges, especially in the management of large projects. Ever increasing pressures are mounting for efficiencies, cost savings, operational streamlining, real time information, specialised resources, clear processes, data collection, organisation and presentation. All to be done yesterday.

Software can be used to manage these complexities and provides business with the tools to operate in an environment that is dynamically changing at an ever faster rate. Environmental and broader considerations along with the associated complexities are increasingly entering the mix-bag planning of larger projects. Technological solutions play their part in facilitating the management of this.
Where the political, business, and social will to effect the changes and measures required to protect the environment are being realised, technolology will provide the tool. And make no mistake, the times are now, and they are a-changin’.

James McSherry is an Software Developer with Elm Consulting Group and has a background in the Irish Energy and Environmental sector.