The conversation about the environmental landscape has evolved drastically over the last 20 years as we continue to understand the extent to which human activity has affected the planet.
Businesses are currently not so keen on sharing the data they collect about their emissions, wastewater, and energy use as they are with sharing consumer information. But they are gathering those data, aggregating and analyzing it, and even acting on their activities as part of their risk-management protocols and environmental stewardship. What’s missing is the commitment to work across an industry, region, or country to measure all of these activities in a meaningful way on a global scale?
I am appalled that some Fortune 100 companies environmental managers I talk to tell me that they would not even host their company’s environmental data in the Cloud for fear of someone accessing it without authorization—the very same data their company is obliged to report to regulators and for which it is against the laws to not disclose data if found to exceed regulatory limits. Ironically, some of the very same companies see no problem with accessing our private information from consumer cloud companies to target us in selling their products and services.
Despite this resistance from business leaders, over the longer term I envision a world in which we can use shared environmental data to take a more concerted approach in our collective environmental stewardship. I consider the work that we do at Locus to be an important step in addressing a monumental global problem. There is a growing need for companies to harness their huge disconnected databases and spreadsheets and mine the information. In a decade or so, I envision the whole planet Earth as a meshed grid of static sensors coupled with movable ones installed on people, transportation devices, and other moving objects to collect data in real time.
Companies and society need a collective and holistic understanding of the problems we face. The only way to understand the full picture, and in turn to act meaningfully on a global level, is for all individuals and companies to understand the impact of their activities. It’s impossible to mitigate the risks and effects of those activities to the planet when we don’t have the data to characterize the problem and see a full picture.
While perhaps someday we will have environmental data sharing among all public and private organizations, the regulatory bodies that govern them, and the scientific community at large, which will provide us with an even more complete picture of our environmental activities, any coordinated effort is years in the making. One of impediments to institute a change like this lies with the Government. So far, it has not been able to impose data exchange standards, a prerequisite for a broad data exchange. In the meantime, Locus is ensuring we are ready to help tackle the problem one site, one facility, and one enterprise at a time.