With the size of environmental, social, and economic challenges growing at a scale, and scope that can outstrip the limits set by governments, Mother Nature, and society, the role of technology is going to play an increasingly more important function. It will become the medium by which we measure system performance, analyze resource levels, identify efficiencies, curb consumption, and influence stakeholders to make better decisions.
In a number of areas, tech innovation is reaching a point whereby the individual gains provided by it, through streamlining life styles and systems to increase efficiency, is both beneficial to the individual and the environment in which they are surrounded.
Smart homes are allowing individuals to monitor their consumption to reduce their cost of energy, in doing so reducing the demand load for coal, and car sharing apps are helping consumers save time and money whilst reducing the number of cars on the road, all reducing congestion and urban pollution. In all of these cases, individuals win, the environment wins and society wins. These examples are but a few whose consumer oriented interface and business model can drive efficiency and innovation throughout the value chain.
Aided by the development of technological solutions, and through the analytics that will come through the Internet of Things and meta-data analysis, smart products and services are able to tell us more and more about our daily lives, identify areas for cost reductions, create opportunity and improve the uptake of technologies that help drive sustainability at the macro (city) level.
Best positioned to bring the solutions needed will be the data driven firms like IBM, Alibaba, Apple, and others, who have spent billions of dollars over the last decade building the infrastructure to capture and analyze the data necessary to act on. They did not enter the space with vested interests and products to protect, like the coal, auto, and agricultural industries, but they are bringing new disruptive models that augment (add on) existing infrastructure and are able to take leading positions through these industries very quickly.
For entrepreneurs, this is also a huge opportunity. Particularly those who are based in settings where the challenges are tangible, and where development of local solutions can be supported. Solutions that can then be scaled up to address larger populations across larger geographies. Solutions such as:
- Sky Greens verticle farming, Singapore
All examples of where tech minded entrepreneurs can develop and scale solutions to the challenges faced.
Over the next 10 days, will be focussing on three fundamental areas of society and growing areas of tech uptake, namely food and agriculture, healthcare and education. In the run up to our next Beyond Business and Usual Forum, we will be providing insights into a number of industries we have studied and the types of technological uptake that is being developed and will be required to alleviate the strain placed on urban systems, as we moved towards 7 billion urban residents.
This is particularly prevalent in the expanding cities of the developing world where urban populations are growing at the fastest rates and the opportunities lie for well executed planning to develop them into modern sustainable urban centres.
We hope that you will enjoy this series, and while we will do our best to highlight a range of solutions, please feel free to tell us about firms or entrepreneurs that you see in your area as well!
Check in over the next couple of days for the first release of our detailed sectorial insight – food and agriculture.