How Data Analytics Is Coming To The Environment’s Rescue

Erich Gerber, senior VP EMEA & APJ, TIBCO.

The World Economic Forum reports that the leading environmental threat to businesses, apart from short-term extreme weather events, is the failure to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Due to these existing and projected impacts of climate change, it is imperative for businesses to prepare for today’s climate reality. Data analytics can play a significant role in this effort.

When it comes to climate change in Southeast Asia, the region is faced with a twofold challenge: the need to adapt to climate change caused by decades of advanced economies emitting greenhouse gases and to alter development strategies that are progressively contributing to global warming.

The spate of extreme weather over the last year has set new and deadly records across the world including parts of Asia, underscoring just how vulnerable Southeast Asia’s emerging economies are to climate change. 


Globally, more than 11,500 extreme weather events occurred between 1998 and 2017, which resulted in more than half a million lives lost and economic damage totalling some US$375 billion.

Previously, it would have been a difficult task to confirm a correlation between climate change and extreme weather. 

In recent times, however, research has identified that several life-threatening weather events can be attributed to climate change directly resulting from human activities, such as CO2 and GHG emissions.

The State Of Climate Change In Singapore

With calamitous extreme weather affecting some Southeast Asia countries, Singapore is considered fortunate that it does not experience these impacts directly, due to its favourable geography. However, this does not mean that the country is entirely safe from hazardous climate impacts. 

Political pledges from the 2015 Paris Agreement have had little effect as global GHG emissions continue their upward surge, and the COP 25 meeting in Madrid in 2019 did not make significant progress. 

It would be opportune, therefore, to reconsider how susceptible Singapore is to current and future climate change impacts.

There are many warning signs to heed, but there are three that stand out the most. These are higher temperatures, changes in rainfall patterns and the rise of sea levels. 

Enduring short bouts of heat is nothing new to Singapore, with the country traditionally experiencing a drier period during the South-west Monsoon season – from June to September.

However, the recent prolonged heat and irregular temperature changes are a direct result of climate change due to larger-scale GHG emissions and Singapore’s urbanisation, replacing natural forests with concrete buildings.

Back in 2017 at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23), Singapore’s Environment and Water Resources Minister, Masagos Zulkifli, announced that Singapore would designate 2018 as the Year of Climate Action. 

Since that commitment, the government has been actively working with businesses to address climate change and safeguard its environment through some key initiatives, covering key areas such as carbon emissions and waste management. 

In December 2019, it nationally-determined a contribution to the 2030 climate pledge and communicated its long-term low emissions strategy.


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Data Analytics Can Play A Pivotal Role

To prepare for climate change, businesses in the region need to build resilience, defined as the ability to anticipate, absorb, accommodate and recover from the impacts of climate change. 

Increasingly, data and analytics are being used to improve the quality of life of citizens around the world. 

In the last few years, conservationists and others have turned to big data to get the big picture on environmental degradation, gaining the ability to answer and address some of the world’s most pressing issues. 

Big data, in this case, comes in various forms, from satellite images to global trade databases to social media postings.

Policies and strategies aimed at the climate change phenomenon have been significantly influenced by big data and predictive analytics. 

Both government and private sector companies have been developing trendsetting tools and technologies that help formulate advanced climate change actions. Needless to say, these are based on big data.

The more AI and machine learning technology is utilised, the easier it is to understand the current reality, predict future weather events and create new products and services to minimise human impact to the environment.

Climate researchers and innovators have the ability to test out their theories and solutions on reducing air pollution, for instance, by utilising AI and machine learning on green initiatives. 

Innovations such as these can be geared towards developing products and services that are beneficial to businesses and also safe for the environment. 

With big data, historical information is just as valuable as current information. It allows researchers to map various trends and patterns, which can then be used to better predict the future, and knowing what is to come means more viable solutions for dealing with potential problems.

Benefits Of Data Analytics Deployment

Data has the power to change the future and can influence thoughts and actions of individuals, businesses and societies at large.

As a case in point, data gathered by NASA and aggregated at Landsat about the changing conditions of the world’s land surfaces offers a very accurate overview of how the world is changing. 

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), on one hand, has millions of chemistry and ecology samples dating back to the 1960s.

The environmental agency needed a way to analyse this data in order to drive evidence-based environmental and business decisions. 

To bring its disparate data sources together and use data to shape and future-proof environmental needs, SEPA chose TIBCO Spotfire and TIBCO Data Science software to provide powerful visualisations, web-based analytics, and data science capabilities.

Other than the use of data visualisation tools, the likes of Avangard Innovative, one of the largest recyclers in North America and Latin America, opted for analytic software to analyse their data and discover insights based on an analytics platform and recommendation engine.

The company was able to pull from numerous data sources—everything from its internal ERP system to information coming from a third-party logistics provider to smart machines out in the field at the customer site. 

Then they transform the data, put it into the integration layer and ultimately the presentation layer. They are able to create visualisations and make insights a reality for both their customers and their internal staff.

Data also cultivates analytics for crops, seeds, and digital farming – the way Bayer Crop Sciences, with the help of its customers who are mostly tech-savvy farmers, used TIBCO Spotfire analytics to track crops around the world and react proactively by determining if any equipment is needed, monitoring weather conditions, checking the status of planting, among other factors. Thus, allowing the farmers to place crops in the right place at the right time.

These instances are just a few cases proving that when organisations tap the power of data, they innovate, collaborate and grow. 

With data analytics and some resilience, businesses have the ability to maintain stakeholder confidence, build customer loyalty and assure investors that they are preparing for and will be able to recover from climate hazards.

Data is here for both public and private institutions to grow and predict measurable success. For the environment’s sake, it is coming to save and rescue. 

Whether this shows a need to start a discussion, support an argument, or change the lives of thousands of people, data can help take a significant step forward in addressing climate change and helping to save the world.

Article by Erich Gerber, senior VP EMEA & APJ, TIBCO.


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