The climate situation is bleak
As a nation we’re in an environmentally fragile state. Extreme weather events are increasing, with the impacts no longer just in a ‘far off land’. The results of climate change are literally in our houses, as seen in Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis.
To combat this by meeting the now widely recognised Paris Agreement target of keeping global temperature rises below 1.5 °C, the UK Government must champion greener solutions. As the first nation to enshrine in law the meeting of net zero emissions by 2050, the UK Government seems serious about fighting climate change.
With its ability to produce deeper insights from complex information, combined with its potential to operate autonomously, Artificial Intelligence (AI) stands out as a powerful tool to achieve these goals. AI enables computers to carry out tasks that would normally require human intelligence. Its benefits are being realised in multiple arenas. For example, AI-image processing is being used to map corals so that humans can better study and protect them. However, what AI has in ubiquitous hype, so too does it have in a lack of large-scale deployment.
To realise its climate objectives, the UK needs to invest in AI-centric solutions
The Office for Artificial Intelligence has recognised the significant benefits this technology poses, including more accurate predictions and complex policy simulations to support decisioning, automation of time-consuming tasks to free up staff, and the ability to produce positive outcomes to social challenges…including climate change! The UK Government can propagate AI in various ways:
- Build more intelligent climate modelling to pro-actively anticipate weather events and better inform citizens.
- Near/real-time monitoring of carbon emissions. Internet of Things sensors and AI could flag co2 sources and sinks, similarly to CNES and Capgemini’s MicroCarb Mission Centre, to enable adaptive decision making and policy changes.
- Improve resource and maintenance predictions to better manage national infrastructure, as is being used by Network Rail to examine train tracks for defects.
- Champion the use of AI and Drones to fight illegal deforestation across the world. Deforestation contributes to c.10% of global greenhouse-gas emissions.
- Empower citizens to actively track their carbon footprint, providing recommendations and incentives to clean up their behaviour.
With these opportunities, the question is why isn’t AI already at the solution forefront? Unfortunately, successful implementation in the Public Sector faces the following key challenges:
- Technical debt on Government estates, which are bad foundations to build AI on.
- Siloed organisational structures prevent data from flowing appropriately to support AI.
- Inertia in ways of working that prevent successful augmentation between humans and AI.
- Potential skills gaps. 47% of Gen Y and Z employees consider their skill set as redundant or will be redundant.
- Risks of unintended consequences – AI is energy intensive! In fact, new estimates suggest that the carbon footprint of training a single AI is 5x the lifetime emissions of an average car. The problem gets worse when it comes to deployment.
So, if you work in the Public Sector and want to explore AI, what’s next? Here’s three tips:
- Consult the Office for Artificial Intelligence, which helps you assess if AI is right for you.
- Read professional service publications to better understand what’s going on in AI. The Capgemini Research Institute publishes award winning content.
- Speak to Capgemini Invent! We’re committed to using our expertise to help organisations with their sustainability challenges, and empower our clients to save 10 million tonnes of carbon emissions globally by 2030.
This is a battle we can all win. The solutions are there, let’s be courageous and fight together for the brighter future.
Benjamin is a Senior Management Consultant in Invent’s People and Organisation capability. He specialises in the Public Sector, with his most notable role being Requirements Stream Lead on a project to replace a mission critical system in a high-profile Government department. Benjamin is fascinated by AI and is keen to explore how organisations must evolve at every level to thrive with it.