SDGs generate new business opportunities


I recently attended the High Level Sustainable Development Goals Business Conference in Sarajevo, which focused on the topic of how businesses can contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. The conference was organized by the UN Office and the Swedish Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Ericsson was one of a few Swedish companies invited to present on the subject of how companies can work with the SDGs and develop new solutions and business models to help achieve them. I took the opportunity to talk about two projects that highlight how working toward the SDGs can boost innovation and lead to new business opportunities.

Better weather data improves resilience

Most experts agree that climate change will lead to altered weather patterns, including more intense rainfall in some areas of the world that could cause more flooding, landslides and other natural disasters. This presents a significant challenge to the achievement of SDG 13, which focuses on climate action, and  SDG 11, to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Advance warning of rain-related natural disasters is often limited by the fact that rainfall is difficult to measure accurately in real time with high spatial resolution. Current technologies such as weather radar can only accurately measure real ground rainfall about 50 percent of the time. Rain gauges are much more accurate in single locations but cannot cover large areas.

To address these issues, we are currently developing a solution called Ericsson Weather Data that uses mobile network microwave links as rain sensors. The solution is based on common cellular technology and works because the microwave band is sensitive to rainfall and naturally measures rain without any additional equipment. Ericsson filters the signal disturbance to measure the rainfall across the link path in real time. This method reflects real ground level rainfall with 90 percent accuracy. One of the major advantages of this solution is that the links it uses serve as the backhaul communication system in cellular networks, which means that they are already deployed at high numbers around the world.

The Ericsson Weather Data project is currently running in Sweden and Rwanda, where it is co-funded by the Swedish Innovation Agency (Vinnova) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) respectively. We are currently investigating its effectiveness in the areas of flood mitigation and prediction, insurance services, agricultural services, hydroelectric services, malaria and dengue outbreak prediction and prevention, and early warning alert functionalities.

Leveraging the IoT for better water quality monitoring

The focus of SDG 6 is to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. One of our contributions toward the achievement of this goal is an IoT-based water quality monitoring solution that we are developing together with the Telia Company, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm University and Linköping University. Our concept is based on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to analyze sensor data and interpret changes in the water quality that can affect the environment of people’s health. The project utilizes the Ericsson IoT platform and our off-the-shelf Connected Environmental Monitoring solution to create a world-class solution for water quality measurements for smart cities and industries. The project has now entered its final phase with the support of the Swedish Innovation Agency (Vinnova), and will continue until 2020.

SDGs integral to doing business

At Ericsson, we regard the SDGs as a set of opportunities. We are committed to using our technology to contribute to new innovative solutions for a better tomorrow, and we believe that the role of industry is to build solutions that support the achievement of the goals within the context of sustainable business practices. Our experience has shown that the ICT industry in particular has great potential to positively impact all the goals.

For Ericsson, sustainability and the SDGs are not matters of philanthropy – they are integral to doing business.

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