How Tech Can Save the World
By Sam Ancer
With the Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP) 27 coming to a close last week, it’s important to highlight what the tech industry is doing to help solve the problems facing our world. Here are five ways tech can save the world:
1. Cleaning Up Our Oceans
With more than 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in our ocean (around 18 thousand pieces per square kilometre) cleaning our oceans of pollution is becoming increasingly crucial. Companies like Clean Sea Solutions are using state of the art technology to combat sea pollution. Clean Sea Solutions has three kinds of products to tackle ocean pollution.
The first is the Cleaning Drone, which is designed to sift through rivers, marinas and waterfronts and clean up small bodies of water. Aquapod is a more permanent, less mobile automatic water pollution collection unit which is installed in marina’s and waterfront areas to collect plastic before it reaches the ocean. Their final product are water-based waste stations where boaters can drop off their waste at sea, removing the demand for waste stations on land and preventing wildlife from moving rubbish and potentially polluting the ocean and surrounding areas.
Founded in 2018 Clean Sea Solutions is looking to develop more products to clean the oceans including an underwater cleaning drone that can collect waste that has collected on the ocean floor.
2. Artificial Intelligence to Monitor Air Quality
Millions of people die every year from air pollution. IQAir is a tech company whose goal is to help observe and report back on air quality, using artificial intelligence to speed up and automate this process.
Based in Switzerland IQAir was founded in 1963 by two brothers, Manfred and Klaus Hammes. For nearly 60 years IQAir has been providing cutting edge air purifying technology. In recent years however they have moved to monitoring air quality around the world, using Artificial Intelligence.
IQAir’s Air monitoring system uses monitors fitted with sensors that are able to pick up on pollutants in the air, looking at things like micro particles in the air, carbon dioxide, air pressure, humidity, and temperature. These monitors then feed data into an Artificial Intelligence which analyses the data in real time to provide updates to users.
IQAir offers a variety of products to help individuals and businesses monitor their air quality. You can buy an indoor and outdoor air monitor from them to let you know your air quality in real time. Or you can make use of their freely available air monitoring map that lets you know the air quality of any area around the world.
According to the World Health Organisation, nearly 99% of the world breathes unclean air, and so effective monitoring of air quality is crucial to our long-term health. Poor air quality has been linked to conditions like cancer, heart disease, lung disease and strokes. Knowledge is the most important weapon in fighting these issues and informing regulations around air quality.
3. Energy Conservation
Controlling our energy consumption is becoming increasingly vital. Around 34% of household energy in the United States is wasted. Artificial Intelligence offers a solution to our energy waste. One way this can be done is by optimising processes and automating energy controls.
Canadian based BrainBox AI is creating AI to help businesses and homes optimise their energy output. Their proprietary AI system works with a building’s heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to map out their energy needs. After a few months BrainBox AI learns how the system operates and runs virtual simulations, along with mapping weather reports, to optimise energy use and make sure that people within buildings are comfortable while still making the most of their energy usage.
BrainBox AI states that their system can assess and predict energy needs to a 99.6% level of accuracy. Reducing the wastage generated from HVAC systems is a massive step to curbing energy waste and as a result our carbon footprint. Using AI to optimise processes and reduce waste is one of the most important ways that tech can save the world.
4. Wildlife Conservation
Protecting wildlife and their ecosystems is vital to our planet’s long-term survival. Africa Wildlife Tracking (AWT) uses cutting edge Geospatial Technology to track and observe wildlife movements across the African continent and around the world.
AWT works with conservationists, local farmers, and governments to keep track of local wildlife, monitor their movement patterns, and point out where numbers go missing. Constant vigilance using cutting edge technology allows AWT to combat poaching by informing relevant authorities of when movements fall outside of established patterns of behaviour.
By keeping track of animals in their natural environment, they are also able to track changes within their ecology, preventing any damage that can be caused by large migrations. By protecting our natural environments we are able to preserve not only beautiful and important ecologies, but we are also able to protect spaces that help combat elements of the climate crisis that absorb greenhouse gases and mitigate carbon pollution.
5. Natural Disaster Management
Natural disasters are becoming more common due to climate change. This means that monitoring and tracking natural disasters is critical to saving lives and reducing the impact of these disasters. Weather monitoring systems make use of Artificial Intelligence to go through the immense amount of data needed to predict these environmental catastrophes.
A team at Lancaster University has created a disaster mapping and damage detection system using Artificial Intelligence to predict where exactly disasters may occur, and to help perform environmental triage to determine where efforts should be applied to reduce as much damage as possible.
Artificial Intelligence is able to consider factors around disaster management that ordinary humans would not even think of. For example, in the case of wildfires, lightning storms have been a major cause of many wildfires around the world. While it might seem absurd to be able to predict where lightning will strike. AI is able to figure out, if lightning strikes a particular area, what the likelihood of that would lead to a wildfire.
AI is able to make similar logical formulas around flooding, hurricanes, and other environmental disasters that could threaten lives. Mitigating the impact of these events is one of the critical ways that tech can save the world.
How Tech Can Save the World
Technology is one of the greatest tools in saving our environment, and by extension our current way of life. Using Artificial Intelligence to map air quality, environmental disasters and reduce energy wastage, or using technology to clean our oceans and track wildlife, tech can save our planet. Which area of technology do you think will have the biggest impact in saving the world?