At Data Agility, we have long believed that environmental sustainability is a significant and present challenge.
We take a proactive approach to minimising our impact on the environment in the way we operate, the work we do and by the advice we provide.
We were an early signatory to Victoria’s TAKE2 climate change initiative, which is working towards two important targets by 2050: achieving zero-net emissions and keeping the global temperature rise to under two degrees.
For us it made sense. Not only did TAKE2 align with our sustainability objectives, but it also supported our view that traditional concepts such as Occam’s Razor and waste-not-want-not make good business sense.
Our approach to sustainability.
Internally, our approach to sustainability has four streams.
- Minimising our transport carbon footprint
- Minimising our energy and resource use
- Recycling and reuse
- Personal health and community engagement.
In implementing our approach, we’ve embed sustainability in our policies and processes and educated and engaged our staff.
The meaningful work we do.
Our commitment to environmental sustainability doesn’t stop with our internal practices. Crucially, it expresses itself in the work we do.
A decade ago, we took our general interest in the environment sector to a different level. We determined that the sector offered meaningful work for our people, and crucially, and they wanted to be involved in it. This lead to us developing a practice focused on the environmental sector.
It was apparent that the opportunity to make real contributions were significant, but we would have to compete for the work. And that meant bringing real expertise to bear.
We learnt that we didn’t need to be environmental scientists, or regulators, or environmental program managers – our clients had those people.
What we found was that the sector wanted us to bring our data analytics and information management expertise to the fore, and complement that with a detailed understanding of their data, how they worked, and what they were trying to achieve. Importantly, they wanted us to have a solid understanding of how the sector as a whole worked and how the many pieces of that puzzle fitted together.
We also found that the sector wanted to work with people who were simultaneously smart and personable. They wanted an organisation that brought excellent stakeholder management capabilities – a firm that could convey a divergent group of professional practitioners on a data transformation journey and work with executive management on the investment programs required to make some significant shifts in capability.
Fantastic data driven opportunities.
In Australia, at the Federal Government level the discussion about the validity and impact of global warming rumbles on. But on the ground everyone from farmers to insurers are reacting to the climate changes that are occurring.
And so it is with Data Agility. For more than a decade, we’ve been building and implementing data strategies and architectures that enable organisations to respond to the consequences of global warming. In some cases, this has been in the context of a complete change to business models.
In parts of Australia, water was a plentiful commodity that could be sold without end – today in much of the country the story is totally different. It’s scarce and precious and needs to be managed accordingly. This means there is now a requirement for new data applied in the context of a coherent framework, and that’s what we bring.
Data And Technology Advances
Shaping the future.
There have been substantial data and technological advances which are now being leveraged very effectively. In 2019, we concluded a program with EPA Victoria building an Azure based data analytics platform.
The platform is a component of a sophisticated solution that enables EPA to swiftly and accurately report significant environmental information.
One of its key capabilities is to publish in real-time air quality data. One day in November 2019 was perhaps its first big test. For most Victorian’s 21 November 2019 was an intense day with temperatures over 40C and northerly winds persistently exceeding 40 kilometres-per-hour, and gusting much higher.
All the while a network of internet-of-things sensors across Victoria were gathering particle, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and ozone data, which the platform analysed and reported via EPA’s website. For many Victorians, in the space of just two hours, the air quality went from good to very poor. As can be seen on the graph below (data from Footscray) by mid-afternoon it would be hazardous, the most severe rating.
While November 2019 was the first major test Air Watch came into its own in the early 2020 when the bush fires where at their worst. In mid January the Air Watch website was taking over 200,000 visitors a day as the community tapped into this valuable resource at a time of extreme danger.
Air Quality data has been recorded in Victoria for decades but the process of publishing the data has always been slow. Historically Victoria’s air quality has been extremely good but at a time of increasing climatic change, this new asset is a valuable addition to our everyday decision making. For instance, is it wise to be digging a hole, cycling home or should the kids attend sports training? Now, you can Simply check AirWatch and make a decision.
Contributing to a program that delivers valuable data in real time is just one example of what excites our teams at Data Agility about working in this sector.
Our work isn’t limited to real-time initiatives. Sometimes we are working with our clients on very long-term highly strategic initiatives, such as Sustainability Victoria’s waste projection model, which can accurately predict waste production levels 30 years into the future.
Another long term initiative that is at the early stages is work with a rural landowner to apply contemporary technologies to the thorny problem of establishing and expanding threatened native species in an area that has undergone significant land clearing and consequently species reduction.
Our goal is to develop and implement a program that:
- Creates baseline data for long term biodiversity research
- Delivers re-vegetation and native species population growth
- And an operating model that can be replicated in many places.
There’s a long way to go and a lot of stakeholders to be engaged but it’s the type of meaningful activity we and our people want to be involved with.