Achieving sustainable development goals with edge computing: A responsible approach

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Achieving sustainable development goals with edge computing: A responsible approach

By Rebecca Schenato, marketing and communications manager at SixSq

In recent years, the urgency to address pressing global challenges has led to increased attention on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Technological innovations such as edge computing have emerged as promising tools to drive sustainable development. However, it is crucial for businesses to embrace edge computing with a genuine commitment to sustainability.

But first… what is edge computing?

Edge computing refers to the decentralized approach of processing and storing data closer to its source, at the network’s edge, rather than relying solely on centralized cloud servers. Edge computing complements cloud computing by extending its capabilities to the edge of the network, enabling faster processing, reduced latency, and enhanced data privacy. Together, edge and cloud computing create a powerful and comprehensive infrastructure that supports a wide range of applications and delivers a seamless user experience. Moreover, edge computing enables data sovereignty and business autonomy by processing and storing data locally, reducing reliance on centralized servers. This decentralized approach empowers organizations to maintain control over their data while benefiting from real-time insights and low-latency processing.

What are Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), comprise a set of 17 interconnected objectives established by the United Nations in 2015. The SDGs serve as a universal call to action that addresses a wide range of critical global challenges that provide a comprehensive framework to create a sustainable and equitable future.

There are four U.N. SDGs that edge computing can help businesses achieve. They include:

SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

SDG7 aims to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy sources. Edge computing can play a pivotal role by optimizing energy consumption and enabling more efficient energy distribution. By processing data at the edge, energy management systems can minimize wasteful energy practices, identify energy-saving opportunities, and facilitate the integration of renewable energy sources into the power grid.

SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

SDG9 seeks to drive economic growth and improve the overall well-being of societies. Edge computing supports this advancement by enabling real-time monitoring, predictive maintenance, and intelligent automation in various sectors. Edge computing also facilitates the deployment of smart infrastructure, enhancing the efficiency and reliability of transportation systems, energy grids, and public services.

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

SDG11 aims at making cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable by improving urban planning, ensuring access to basic services, and promoting sustainable practices for housing, transportation, and infrastructure. Edge computing contributes to this by enabling smart city solutions. Real-time data processing at the edge allows for efficient traffic management, waste management, and urban planning. By utilizing edge analytics, cities can optimize resource allocation, reduce congestion, and minimize environmental impact, leading to improved quality of life for residents.

SDG 13: Climate Action

SDG13 addresses the urgent need for climate action. Edge computing can support this goal by allowing precise climate monitoring. By processing data locally, organizations can reduce the need for large-scale data transfers, which often result in increased energy consumption and carbon emissions. Additionally, edge-enabled environmental monitoring systems can provide accurate and timely data on climate indicators, aiding in climate modeling, disaster response, and the development of sustainable policies.

Responsible Implementation of Edge Computing

To avoid falling into greenwashing and ensure meaningful contributions to SDG achievement, companies must approach edge computing with a responsible mindset. Consider the following:

  • Holistic Sustainability Strategy: Companies should adopt a holistic sustainability strategy that aligns with their core values and business objectives. Edge computing should be integrated into this strategy as a means to drive sustainable development, rather than as a superficial marketing tool.
  • Energy Efficiency and Renewable Resources: Companies should prioritize energy-efficient hardware and infrastructure for edge computing deployments. Utilizing renewable energy sources to power edge computing systems can further reduce environmental impact and contribute to the clean energy transition.
  • Lifecycle Assessment: Performing a thorough lifecycle assessment of edge computing infrastructure is essential. This assessment should consider the environmental impact of manufacturing, deployment, operation, and end-of-life disposal of edge devices, promoting responsible consumption and production.
  • Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing: Businesses should actively participate in collaborative initiatives, industry partnerships, and knowledge-sharing platforms focused on sustainable edge computing practices. Sharing best practices, lessons learned, and research findings can foster innovation and collective progress.

Edge computing holds tremendous potential to support companies in their journey towards SDG achievement. By leveraging the benefits of edge computing while maintaining a responsible and genuine commitment to sustainability, businesses can drive positive change in energy efficiency, industry innovation, sustainable cities, and climate action. Embracing edge computing with a responsible mindset ensures that companies will make a tangible impact on global sustainability goals, contributing to a sustainable future.

About the author

Rebecca Schenato is the marketing and communications manager at SixSq, a provider of software for edge-to-cloud management and edge application marketplace. Schenato is engaged in strategically supporting the company’s growth and market positioning while translating the company’s business objectives into actionable marketing strategies. With a Master’s degree in media and business, and experience in marketing, business development, international relations and strategic positioning, she has worked in the edge computing, health, finance, IoT, and security fields supporting companies’ growth while establishing a strong presence on the market.

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