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The-Emerging-Role-of-IT-in--Environment-Sustainability
Kishore Deshpande
President & CEO-Universal Software Corporation
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Established in 1992, Universal Software Corporation is a provider of IT consulting and staff augmentation, IT project outsourcing, offshore software development services, and IT project management.

Would the next war be fought over water? As soon as 2025, large parts of the world could experience perennial water shortages, says Dr. Upmanu Lall, Director of the Columbia Water Center and a leading expert on hydroclimatology, climate change adaptation, and risk analysis. Where and how Information technology meets environmental sustainability?

Rising global population, depleting natural resources and extreme weather events are bringing challenges all across the world. These challenges consist of water, sanitation, food supply, public health, and migration. For political states these are policy and implementation issues, while for entrepreneurial minds these are growing business opportunities.

The word "Sustainability" means the capacity to endure while the phrase, "Environmental Sustainability" means enduring natural resources and life on the earth for present and future generations. United Nations introduced "Environmental Sustainability" term as a part of Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and referred to this in part as integrating the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs and reversing loss of environmental resources.

“Information, Communication and Technology (ICT)” services are increasingly in demand to address and to provide solutions pertaining to environmental sustainability. ICT enables several critical functions needed in environment sustainability. Smart data collection, data gathering, data synthesis and intelligent reporting, public communication system, updated maps with resources and marked locations for potential natural hazards are required by governments at all levels. ICT is being used to track the progress made and to plan water, sanitation, health and similar services.

Specifically, ICT provides the following features going beyond providing information over the web:

• Strong medium of dissemination of government services to citizens

• To help observe, describe, record and understand the environment, including tools to manipulate and visualize environmental information;

• To share information and data as well as processing power

• To facilitate and help coordinate environmental decision-making and management, including environmental early warning, risk assessment, mitigation and management, etc.;

• To help reduce and/or minimize the environmental impact of human activity;

• To facilitate learning about the environment Businesses across all sectors are increasingly adopting environmental sustainability principles and publishing their reports. This is done partly in response to stakeholders but also because it proved financial benefits for the organizations. In order to achieve these principles, businesses are adopting action items related to energy efficiency or saving, recycling, water conservation and green buildings. E.g. increasing trucking fleet efficiency just by 1 mile per gallon helped Wal-Mart save $52 Million annually.

Similarly millions or even billions of dollar saved nationally, just by turning off computer in the night (or when not in use). Both actions in these examples not only have potential to manage assets both in terms of dollars and natural resources.

Hence, developing a plan, prioritizing and implementing actions, and finally collecting and reporting data needs smart tools. These tools and services can be for real time data collection, smart phone/PDA apps to report data, energy and environmental footprint calculators, report generation software, smart routing system, and many more endless opportunities.

In short IT sector can help achieving sustainability in government and business sectors, and in the process present business opportunities while doing greater good.
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