Can Data Save the World?

One should expect with a keynote title of “Can Data Save the World?” that it was going to be a thought-provoking presentation. I have not attended a keynote speech that was so well documented, poignant and at the same time optimistic, as it relates to the environment, since the early days of Jack Dangermond and Esri. You would expect that from an Esri conference, but HxGN LIVE?

If you were watching the pre-keynote video imagery, you had an idea that it was going to be a serious presentation. The once beautiful, South Pacific beaches littered with plastic are some of the saddest examples of the environmental damage that the exploding world population and the lack of awareness are producing.

Early on in the keynote, Hexagon CEO, Ola Rollén asked “Is the planet worth saving?” I hope we all know the answer to that question. He established that unless the societal and environmental megatrends now in place are addressed by the year 2050, it might be too late. For example, it is predicted that by 2050 all of the fish in the oceans will have been harvested at the current rate.

At the same time, Rollén pointed out that we have proven to have the ability to do just about anything, but unfortunately not in a sustainable way. That is where data comes in and how applying that data to things like increasing the efficiency of internal combustion engines and reducing agricultural pollution can present tremendous business opportunities for everyone in the audience.

One of the most promising examples of a new, sustainable business venture comes from 4Ocean. Started by two surfing buddies who were appalled at the plastic pollution in the South Pacific, their company has removed over 4.7 million pounds of trash from beaches and coastlines since 2017.

Rollén provided a running tally of a number of ways to reduce greenhouse gas pollution through the use of data that is readily available today. His suggestions added up to an encouraging reversal of the growing environmental damage trends.

As he closed, he encouraged everyone to do good for mankind and to go out and save the world.

Dr. Gene V. Roe

Dr. Gene V. Roe is the founder of MPN Components, Inc., a 20-year-old geomatics consulting firm specializing in strategic market research and technology development. He is also the Founder of LiDAR News a leading, 3D laser scanning publication. Gene Roe has been involved with geomatics his entire 50+ year career as a Professional Engineer and Land Surveyor.