How Technology can Solve Problems in our Environmental Protection Work

The Mega Trends 2022

What have we done to the environment? What is our ambition? What do we want to achieve?

We have been disrupting and degrading Earth’s natural processes and depleting the resources which humanity and all other life depends upon. We must consider them together if we are to get things back on track.

In 2015 the UN launched a shared vision for humanity: 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which serve as a call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. At their heart, the SDGs are about fixing how our economy operates. Nevertheless, how can we make credible positive contributions to the SDGs, while working to ensure that they are not undermining progress elsewhere?

  • First, we shall set better environmental ambitions – ones that meet the needs of both the business and society as a whole.
  • Second, make and measure meaningful progress in pursuit of those ambitions.
  • And third, transform how you engage stakeholders, by shifting the narrative to focus on the future: where the organisation is going, how it’s working to get there, and why that is good for both the business and society as a whole.

We need a new kind of tool, that can help any organisation play its part in our transition to an environmentally restorative, socially just and economically inclusive future. At the same time, we shall leverage the power of technology.

Let’s look at our selected 10 mega trends for 2022.

1. There are so many drones flying over the construction sites these days? Do we have an air traffic control tower to manage them to avoid collision and better management?

  • Yes. Cloud + IoT + GIS
  • Drones represent an exciting development in aviation technology and offer new opportunities for field surveys, emergency services, businesses and individuals across the globe.
  • However, if not flown safely they can pose a risk to other airspace uses, people on the ground and the operator.
  • At present, drones do not currently hold information about obstacles they need to avoid, such as static obstacles or areas like buildings, airports, other drones and any airborne vehicle with humans on board
  • There is actually unmanned and autonomous intelligence technology available out there that gives managers of airspace, whether this be around airports, property or other infrastructure, the ability to easily provide digital pre-flight and takeoff approval to drone operators within a defined airspace zones. It offers high levels of automation, including automatic routing and approvals of certified operations.
  • Free access to Drone Safety Map, which spans over 152 countries providing accurate, real-time weather, aeronautical and ground hazards information, and is the trusted by emergency services, drone pilots and aviators around the world to give them the best planning data available.

2. An officer received a complaint about the noise generated from a neighbouring high rise industrial building. They went down to the site to do an investigation. There’re so many air conditioners mounted on the building facade. They heard different industrial sound sources, too. They followed the normal procedure and did some noise measurements using a sound level meter. The measured noise levels range from 76 to 79 dB(A). How can we tell what is causing the problem. Can we “see” things that are not visible?

  • The simple answer is “Yes, we can”. IoT + DSP + Acoustics + CG
  • If we have many ears, a sound to digital signal converter and graphical display, we probably can see the sound.
  • In fact, such technology has been available. And, the operating principle is simple.
  • When you hear a sound, and you instinctually turn your head toward that sound…. How do you know where it comes from? The science tells us that our ability to perceive sound direction works through a process known as binaural hearing, which essentially means “hearing with two ears”. (Source: https://ehomerecordingstudio.com/binaural-hearing/) So, if we would need a little bit more than two ears to locate sound a little bit more precisely.
  • Our eardrum is a thin membrane stretched across the end of the tunnel. Past it is the middle ear, a hollow cavity. Like the microphone diaphragm, it vibrates in response to sound waves coming into the ear. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microphone_array)
  • Such technology is available in the market as beamforming array or acoustic camera. Thanks to the advanced computing power, the current digital signal processor can handle easily an array of over 380 microphones and be able to provide near real time visualisation of source locations.
  • The same technologies can be used to identify noisy wheels for predictive maintenance, identify modified vehicles.

3. How can I save space? For schools, how can we know which room has deteriorating air quality? Can we clean indoor air and monitor the air quality at the same time? Wellness and energy saving.

  • Yes, IoT + Cloud
  • Indoor air quality has become so important in particular amid the pandemic.
  • You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure – Peter Drucker

4. My hospital is undergoing an extension. I am worried that the construction activities would have impacts on my mission critical medical instruments. Can you stop their work if any problems identified? If yes, how?

  • Yes, using IoT, Cloud, AI/ML

5. I am managing a large workspace, with plenty of windows with good natural light. Due to WFH policies, there are less visitors and staff using the office. I want to reduce energy by letting the light off automatically when not occupied. How can I retrofit our office with smart lighting?

  • Yes, using IoT and Cloud.

6. My company is a listed company, and has to comply or explain our environmental key performance indicators in accordance with the HKEX requirements. My company has many subsidiaies in many different places. Coordinating with my many subsidiary offices is very time consuming. How can technology help?

  • Yes, Cloud + AI
  • There are data management tools in the market that facilitate online collaboration.

7. Environmental Instruments are helpful in obtaining data. The accuracy of them is very important. However, it takes long to calibrate either because it has to be shipped overseas or there is long queue. How to speed up this process?

8. I have many trees to transplant

  • Automatic calibration system
  • Take acoustics calibration as an example, typical calibration process is labour intensive. However, it can be automated now using technology while accrediated.

9. I want to do a public consultation for acoustics windows.

  • Yes, can use VR/AR

10. BIM

  • At the same time, we’re seeing a substantial growth of Digital Twins – a real-time digital representation linked to a physical asset or process that so that adjustments to one, will impact the other – having a notable enabling effect on business resilience. What are the benefits?

What’s Next?