Sustainability in the age of Big Data – Government and Regulation Perspective Q&A

Sustainability in the age of big data – Government’s perspective
Mark Headd of City of Philadelphia and Cary Coglianese of university of Pennsylvania.

Government has for the longest time the largest user of data. The volume of data being collected by government is huge but with this new age of big data how does government then deal with it?
Mark Headd is the head of data collection and analysis at the city of Philadelphia. A unique and unusual job title at this current age and time but one that will become the norm as big data is becoming more and more important in shaping policies and regulations.
Cary Coglianese, Penn Law Faculty, deals with regulations, sustainability, and big data from the social cognitive perspective. His new book, Does Regulation Kill Jobs? Is currently out and is stirring an interesting conversation among the colleagues here at Penn.

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Wayne Balta – IBM and IBM’s view on sustainability in the age of big data.

The discussion of Big Data is no longer if the data exist, or if this is the age of big data. The discussion today is whether big data is here to stay and how big data will play a role in the upcoming sustainability.
Examples of data is everywhere. Companies have slowly incorporated data collection and data management into the playbook of sustainability. 90% of data in the world was created in the last two years, and this trend will continue. We always have a lot of data, but the system of processing this overwhelming speed and volume is coming together in terms of how data is affecting policy and program.
Business organization is changing. And Wayne Balta from IBM talks of how IBM is integrating data technology with business acumen for solutions to any problems that clients need. Wayne talks of how walls are breaking due to data. The wall between customers and suppliers. Wall between average people and experts is breaking down. The world is slowing becoming instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent.

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Footprinting from the perspective of DuPont

I again had the pleasure of meeting and talking to Bob Reich of DuPont on corporate point of view on water. Bob’s job at DuPont is to deal with the water footprint in DuPont’s operation.
Bob opened the conversation with DuPont’s commitment to Zero. The core value of being committed to safety and health, environmental stewardship, respect for people, and ethical behaviors. So why committed? Well commitment is something that is a choice. And it takes everyone in the company to make the right choice to reach the goal of zero. So what is footprint? DuPont defines footprint in all injuries illnesses, incidents, waste emissions, use of water, and delectable form of raw materials and energy.
Footprints are driving a lot of the decision makings in DuPont. There are three big challenges that needs addressing that DuPont is trying to develop the company into. They are food, energy, and protection. Agriculture and health and safety is a large portion of the company. The ultimate goal for the company is to be able to feed everyone. Energy is driving the company’s renewable and solar sectors. DuPont produces 90% components of a solar PV cell. Protection is a new field and another word for protection is sustainability. Sustainability of environment, sustainability in social, and sustainability in economy are the main concerns.
Bob stress that DuPont’s R&D is focusing not only on market opportunities but is incorporating environmental sustainability as well as reduce environmental footprint. DuPont is trying to be the first company to provide customers with 1,000 unique sustainable and environmental friendly products to consumers. The Company is also working with third parties to identify top 100 products and define or transform the product to include a sustainable perspective.

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Environmental Justice from a business perspective – Deidre Sanders, Ph.D.

Deidre Sanders, Ph.D., author of, Ignoring environmental justice is risky business, talked in a lunch session seminar at Wharton business school.

Environmental Justice is not just a topic of hard data, it is also a field full of emotions and social perspective. Engagement with all stakeholders (community, business, and regulators) that can lead to solving an environmental issue such as pollution, conservation, protection. Historically, environmental justice has been a lopsided balance. Economy and wealth creation became more important than any other responsibility.

Environmental justice is not only an outcome but also a process and each stakeholder defines it differently. business often see environmental justice as following rules and regulations that regulators have place because the laws state what is legal and what is illegal and thus through following the rules, the business must have taken into account environmental justice. The community often sees environmental justice on a case by case process. For example just because a company is able to get a permit to build a dump in a town does it mean that the individuals in the town has a say in the process. Regulators’ must then balance the two sides.

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Sustainability and Food Waste – Bernard J. David

Bernard talks about sustainability from the perspective of food. Why food? Well, Bernard talks of Maslow’s hierarchy of need. From a perspective that sustainability is new. We need to get the basics first. Maslow’s hierarchy starts with the basic needs. The physiological needs that everyone needs to survive. Food is one of the basic needs.

Just some numbers to talk about 50% of land in the US is used for food production. 80% of freshwater is used in farming. 10% of energy in transportation goes to moving food around. So this is a gigantic industry and there are many players. Globally, food production uses 1/3 of the land. 70% of fresh water is consumed. 3.1% of total global energy is used in production. It takes an average of 7-10 calories of energy to produce 1 calorie of food.

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Two Great Water Day Events (Philly)

World Water Day Walk For Water, hosted by H2O For Life, will be held at 9:00 am at Alverthorpe Park Pavilion, Forrest Ave, Rydal PA 19046
Register on site: $10 per person $25 per Family
Funds will support gravity-fed and water catchment infrastructure projects in Haiti and South Africa

Keiyo Soy Ministries will host a 5K Run/Walk-a-Thon, starting at the Philadelphia Art Museum, and continuing down MLK Blvd.  This walk will raise funds to support water projects in Kenya.  Specifically, the organization will continue building water tanks at schools so that children don’t have to spend precious time acquiring water; instead they will have ample water at their schools, affording them time and energy they can dedicate to their studies.  Ten tanks at schools have been built to date.  Event cost: $35 Adults, $25 Seniors, $20 Students.  Event registration begins at 7:45 am and the Run/Walk-a-thon begins at 9:00 am

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Air quality picture that is not about China…


No the picture is not of some city in China. No it is not in a developing country. This is a picture of Paris. To think, of all places. This is just a reminder that air pollution is not a national issue but a global issue.

Think back to when the banning of cars based on the number on the plates was in the US? Well today in Paris, only those vehicles with the odd number plates were allowed on the road. The poor people with the even plates had to take public transportation or risk being fined.

Hey the bright side is that all public transportation was free starting last Friday and will last a few days. Now that is some incentive for getting some cars off the road.

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