Agenda: Digital must be at the heart of our fight against climate change


Scotland’s environmental goals are at the forefront of minds like never before. With COP26 fast approaching, our current, political and economic agendas have focused on the climate crisis. But when the subject of sustainability is brought up, people tend to think of a shift towards renewables, better recycling and active travel. What they don’t tend to think about is 5G. But they should.

BT’s technology and communications networks have an important role to play in enabling the innovative solutions and major changes needed to achieve a greener economy. Our all-fiber and 5G broadband networks will pave the way for low-carbon living and working. These updates bring with them huge energy efficiencies to help reduce Scotland’s environmental footprint.

Technology will help bring about the necessary change. However, the real challenge ahead is how to best use it. While many of us are aware of how we can individually contribute to slowing the effects of climate change, the ways in which organizations and governments can come together to tackle the problem are less obvious.

We recently published a report, Innovation Critical: Scotland’s Net Zero Mission and Climate Tech Opportunity, with our partners SCDI, Royal Society of Edinburgh and ScotlandIS who explored this question. He found that Scotland may be best placed to take advantage of new and emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and data analytics, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate impacts of climate change. With the right direction and the right investments, the recovery from the pandemic presents a huge opportunity for government, businesses and individuals.

BT is working on projects with this goal in mind – but the need for a common approach requires lateral thinking on everyone’s part. We need to start asking ourselves how we can best partner with vendors, customers, peers, and government agencies to inspire change – and more importantly, how can we use technology to create innovative solutions to one. pace and scale?

The work of the University of Stirling provides a prime example of how action on climate change can be achieved through technology and collaboration. We are supporting them with a 5G network to develop a one-of-a-kind monitoring system to implement its digitally-led green recovery program. Using connected sensors, satellite data and artificial intelligence, the program will provide vital information on water quality and other factors, to inform decisions that could bring major regeneration benefits. economy and sustainability in Forth Valley.

Climate change is currently one of humanity’s greatest challenges, and while digital technology is only part of the solution, it is absolutely essential for the net zero future we must build: it is the thread that connects these great ideas and makes them possible. Our fixed broadband and 5G mobile networks will shape the way we all live, work and travel, supporting everything from working at home and developing smart cities, to the ‘Internet of Things’ and helping to create smart climate solutions.

But as we are fortunate enough to live in a developed economy, with these tools at our disposal, it is time for our nation to start asking, “How can we better harness the opportunities offered by our digital infrastructure to secure our future.” ? ”

Jane Wood is Director of BT Group Scotland


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