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How Wide-scale Digitalization Is Positively Affecting the Environment

Digital technologies have transformed our world more rapidly than any innovation in the past. Those who are connected to the digital world benefit from this newer way to share knowledge and communicate, and those who cannot connect risk falling further behind in terms of job market opportunities, business process optimization, operations management, supply chain speed and efficiency, and satisfying customer expectations. Nearly 9 in 10 business leaders think digital technology will disrupt their industry, and 55% of companies without digital transformation feel certain they have less than a year to start the digital transformation process before losing market share.1

Digital technologies can also benefit our world by saving and managing resources better. Concerns about climate change and sustainability have increased over recent years, and interest is growing in how technology can reduce the impact of humans on the environment. In one survey, 70% of people reported that climate change is affecting their area of the world, and 57% of those surveyed believe it is a serious concern.2 Digitalization has the power to reduce energy use and increase efficiency, which can have a positive impact on the environment.  

Reduced Paper Use 

Sending an email instead of mailing a letter saves energy. Mailing a letter uses paper and ink, fuel for postal delivery trucks, and electricity to power the post office and its sorting processes. Computers also use electricity, and you need to consider their replacement, trashing, and recycling costs.

Online medical records also reduce paper use. They give patients ready access to their medical records, which can be shared with clinicians without making paper copies.

Most prescriptions are also submitted digitally. You can see an online doctor and receive an online prescription. The prescription information is digitally transmitted to the pharmacy, where it is filled and then delivered or picked up locally.

Using technology can definitely reduce paper use and improve communication. To extend the environmental benefits even more, learn how to recycle used and outdated technology. When technology is thrown away in the wrong way, it gives off methane gas and releases chemicals that harm wildlife and pollute waterways. Globally, we are throwing away $52.5 billion of electronic waste each year.3

Digital Farming

Digital farming enables us to produce food more efficiently, feed an expanding global population, and reduce waste and agricultural pollution. Sensors can monitor water use, soil nutrients, temperature, and UV light to provide a constant stream of data farmers can use to optimize crop yield and minimize loss. This data can ensure compliance with food standards and track food nutrition.

Computer-operated farm equipment increases accuracy and decreases the demand for manual labor. Smart combines collect billions of pieces of information, which makes it easier for farmers to make the best use of their resources. Precision planters use GPS and past data on yield and loss to figure out the best depth, density, and location to plant seeds.

Digital tools enable farmers to track weather patterns, environmental conditions, consumer demands, regulatory requirements, and crop yield to maximize their farm’s productivity and food quality.

More Efficient Data Centers 

Anytime you can centralize operations, it will probably be more efficient and less costly. Using cloud computing is no different. Sharing resources reduces costs for smaller companies, and it reduces the impact of technology on the environment. According to an International Data Corp. forecast, cloud computing may prevent one billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions between 2021 and 2024.

Aggregated data centers:4

  • More efficiently manage power capacity
  • Optimize cooling
  • Have access to the most power-efficient servers
  • Increase server utilization rates

Data centers consume approximately 1.8% of the overall energy use in the U.S., or about 70 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. According to research funded by Google and conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory with Northwestern University, transitioning from commonly used software applications to the cloud has the potential to reduce energy use by 87%.5

Better Sustainable Energy Production 

Solar panels and wind farms are excellent sustainable energy production methods, but digitalization can optimize their efficiency even more.

Solar trackers help solar panels make as much energy as possible by following the sun and moving large panels on the ground so that they get the most ultraviolet light. They work best when the angle at which the sun’s rays hit the panel is as narrow as possible. Solar trackers can maximize energy production by moving solar panels perpendicular to the sun’s rays.6

Huge wind farms are moving offshore. Most of the time, 15 to 25% of the cost of electricity from wind turbines goes into running and maintaining the turbines. Collecting and analyzing data, doing predictive maintenance, and optimizing output can save money and have less of an effect on the environment. 7

Reduced Emissions From Travel 

The COVID-19 pandemic was associated with an 11% decline in carbon emissions in the U.S. in 2020. Reduced travel, telehealth, and remote work largely contributed to the decline. While there was a rebound in travel, once restrictions were lifted, remote work and telehealth options continue to provide an opportunity to decrease the impact of travel on the environment.

For example, telehealth services such as Telegra MD allow you to see your doctor without leaving home. You can see a doctor online and experience the benefits of telemedicine using a secure online platform. Your privacy, health information, and credit card data are all protected. You can easily schedule a same day or future appointment and speak with a doctor licensed in your state. Telehealth doctors treat just about any medical condition that does not require a physical examination.

 Remote doctor’s visits may be the safest and most convenient option for you and the environment. You save time and money and reduce the impact of travel on the environment. Telehealth services have become very popular because they offer convenience and safety compared to traveling to in-person appointments. They enable faster care so everyone can get back to living their lives.

Ready to call an online doctor and get help fast? Follow these easy steps:

  1. Using a computer, phone, or laptop, reach out to an online telehealth company, such as Telegra MD.
  2. Register on the site and choose a provider from a broad list of specialists
  3. Schedule your visit
  4. At your appointment time, go online and talk with your doctor as you would in an in-person visit.

Each trip to the doctor or to work seems like it would have little impact on the environment, but each trip adds up.

Managing Household Energy Consumption 

Like individual trips to the doctor or work, it would seem that minor changes in your household energy use would have little impact on the environment. But by using smart appliances and smart home systems, each household can manage its energy use, decreasing energy use and cost.

A smart home uses technology to allow energy-using appliances and systems to communicate. These devices can be controlled by a schedule or remotely via a smartphone. You can save energy by decreasing the setpoint on your thermostat at night or at work. You can use energy-hogging appliances when the demand on the electrical grid is lower. Remote blinds make it possible to allow heat in when the sun is out and hold on to household heat on cloudy days.

Smart homes are more convenient, safer, and secure than ever before. See how they can help you make more eco-friendly choices each day.8

Greater Access to Information 

Finally, digitalization makes it easy to share information, tips, and solutions on how to use technology to reduce our environmental impact.

Digitalization is here to stay and is expected to impact every industry, including healthcare. It will bring benefits for the environment and challenges, and it will bring exciting opportunities to live a healthier life each day.

References:

  1. Zippia. “37 Incredible Digital Transformation Statistics [2023]: Need-To-Know Facts On The Future Of Business” Zippia.com. November 14, 2022, https://www.zippia.com/advice/digital-transformation-statistics/
  2. Funk C, Tyson A, Kennedy B, Johnson C.  (2020). 3. Concern over climate and the environment predominates among these publics. Pew Research Center Science & Society. https://www.pewresearch.org/science/2020/09/29/concern-over-climate-and-the-environment-predominates-among-these-publics/
  3. Okafor J. (2020). Negative Impact of Technology on the Environment. TRVST. https://www.trvst.world/environment/negative-impact-of-technology-on-the-environment/
  4. Kaur, D. (2021, March 19). How cloud computing can reduce carbon emissions. TechHQ. https://techhq.com/2021/03/how-cloud-computing-can-reduce-carbon-emissions/
  5. Spicer, S. (2019, April 21). Environmental Benefits of Cloud Computing. Agile IT. https://www.agileit.com/news/environmental-benefits-cloud-computing/
  6. Marsh J. (2022, November 9). Solar trackers: everything you need to know. https://news.energysage.com/solar-trackers-everything-need-know/
  7. W. Udo and Y. Muhammad, “Data-Driven Predictive Maintenance of Wind Turbine Based on SCADA Data,” in IEEE Access, vol. 9, pp. 162370-162388, 2021, doi: 10.1109/ACCESS.2021.3132684.
  8. Harvey, A. (2021, April 29). What is a Smart Home and How Does it Support Green Living? SafeWise. https://www.safewise.com/blog/what-is-a-smart-home-and-how-does-it-support-green-living/

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