How Big Data and Analytics Can Help the Environment

How Big Data and Analytics Can Help the Environment
Reading Time: 5 minutes

In our last few blog posts, we’ve looked at data quality, why it’s important and explored some of the steps you can take to help you improve the quality of your data.

In this blog post, we continue with the data theme, specifically, we look at how big data and analytics can be deployed to the environmental sciences and have a positive effect on the world around us.


Businesses are only starting to scratch the surface of how they can crunch and process data to arrive at actionable insights. Finding signal in the noise can be difficult but technological advancements in artificial intelligence and analytics tools are making this easier.

Businesses that leverage the insights they discover through their data analytics practices can:

  • Identify areas where they can generate more revenue
  • Save more money
  • Identify unnecessary travel and logistics processes
  • …and much more!

Data insights can also help businesses understand and be proactive about the impact they are having in their industry, and possibly one of the most important things – the world they do business in. By tracking relevant data points, businesses can identify their carbon footprint, whether that comes from within their own boundaries or indirect emissions.

For example, The Pharmaceutical firm GSK was able to identify that 20% of its carbon footprint is within its own boundaries whereas 80% comes from indirect emissions.

By identifying these data points, firms like GSK can take meaningful action to help them understand the end-to-end impact their business is having through their entire supply chain.

Climate Change

Back in 2013, the UK government invested in a large-scale programme called CEMS (Climate and Environment Monitoring from Space).  This large-scale big data implementation allowed for the creation of infrastructure that could process and crunch datasets that were exponentially growing.

The key focus of the programme is to monitor climate change, remove the need to download enormous data sets, and to reduce the cost of data access for research partners that wish to research the climate change problem.

CEMS provides researchers and agencies the tools and data they need thereby improving the scalability of research within the academic community. Coupled with cloud technology, important information with regards to climate change can be debated, and steps can be taken to work towards reducing any adverse effects business is having.

Optimize Resources

Another way Big Data can help businesses have a positive effect on the environment is through the optimization of their resource usage.


At a conference in 2014 (the Initiative for Global Environment Leadership), David Parker, Vice President of SAP showed how the Italian tire company Pirelli were using SAPs big data management system (called HANA) to optimize its inventory.

Pirelli used data generated by sensors in tires from around the world to:

  • Reduce waste
  • Increase profits
  • Reduce the number of tires that go to landfill sites

All of which helps Pirelli do their bit for the environment!

General Electric

Pirelli isn’t alone in understanding how the hidden value they have in their data can have a positive effect on the environment.  Paul Rogers from General Electric echoed the same sentiment when he expressed his thoughts about the potential big data can have when it comes to helping businesses optimize their resources.

According to facts that were shown to him, Rogers went onto say that “a meager 1% improvement in efficiency in five major industrial sectors including healthcare, aviation, rail, power and oil and gas can save $276 billion in the next 15 years.”

These are just some examples of how business can thrive, whilst at the same time, make the best use of their resources AND still have a positive effect on the environment!

Road and Regional Planning

Quite often, when considering the environment, urban landscapes can be ignored. But when you think about it, urban landscapes are of just as much importance as their natural counterparts, and sometimes they can even have their own ecosystems!

You could argue that urban environments, whether it be villages, towns, counties or cities are effectively their own self-contained ecosystem.  Places that support life, give people places to work and so on.

In the year 2000, China deployed a big data and analytics project. In 2014, this project has rapidly expanded and its sole purpose was to unify data between technologists, geographers, logistics and urban planning agencies.  The data gathered by the project can be used to examine problematic traffic areas, criminal hotspots, health problems and much more.

After ingesting big data from disparate data sources, it can then be used to:

  • Decide where new roads must be built
  • Identify where law enforcement needs to be deployed
  • Identify areas pollution may be a problem or poverty is an issue

Regular datasets are insufficient, disconnected and can lack the breadth and depth that’s required for governments to find actionable insights.  By pulling all this information into one “master index”, a single “source of truth” can be built all of which makes it easier for road and regional planning centers to manage their urban environments and make them pleasant places for citizens to live in.


Another way that big data and analytics can help the environment is in relation to assessing water risks. For example, Aqueduct is a product that has been developed that allows companies, investors and governments to understand where water risks or even potential opportunities are emerging.

image1 2

For example, the tool, which can be accessed free online through a web application can let you identify urban damage, river floods and even the affected GDP per state or even per country! All powered by big data and analytics!


In this article, we’ve looked at how big data and analytics can be used to have a positive effect on the environment.  We’ve seen how big data can provide businesses with actionable insights in terms of their carbon footprint, how it can be used to monitor the environment and foster debate about climate change.

We’ve also seen how big data can be used to optimize energy in the national grid, reduce waste and even help with road planning.

Hopefully, by reading this article, you’ve looked at big data and analytics through a different lens now!

Here at Growth Acceleration Partners, we have extensive expertise in many verticals. Our nearshore business model can keep costs down whilst maintaining the same level of quality and professionalism you’d experience from a domestic team.

Our Centers of Engineering Excellence in Latin America focus on combining business acumen with development expertise to help your business.  We can provide your organization with resources in the following areas:

  • Software development for cloud and mobile applications
  • Data analytics and data science
  • Information systems
  • Machine learning and artificial intelligence
  • Predictive modeling
  • QA and QA Automation

If you’d like to find out more, then visit our website here.  Or if you’d prefer, why not arrange a call with us?