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With new pact, tech companies take on climate change

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When ride hailing company Bolt set out to design its own shared scooter, part of a push into lightweight urban transit, engineers had one overarching goal: make it eco-friendly. The result, set to hit Europe’s streets en masse this spring, is a machine powered by electricity, that is 100 per cent recyclable and will last 60 months – an eon in the world of e-scooters.

Sandra Särav, Bolt’s head of sustainability, says the scooter is emblematic of a company-wide drive to counter climate change.

“There is no other way but to go to zero,” she says, referring to the need to offset greenhouse gas emissions. “All of us have a say in this and all of us are responsible for doing this.”

On 19 March, Digital Day 2021, Bolt joined 24 other technology companies in signing a pledge to develop “green digital solutions” that will help the world slash carbon dioxide emissions and digitally transform key economic sectors. Signatories, which include Microsoft, Ericsson and Vodafone, also committed to becoming carbon-neutral themselves by no later than 2040.

The pact, known as the European Green Digital Coalition, was spearheaded by the European Commission and endorsed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

It comes with the world facing what experts warn is a looming climate crisis. The last decade has been the warmest on record and, scientists say, unless humanity dramatically reduces its greenhouse gas emissions, the Earth is facing a future of heat waves, food shortages and mass extinctions.

“We are in a race against time to lower greenhouse gas emissions,” said UNEP executive director Inger Andersen. “Only digital technologies move at the speed and scale necessary to achieve the kind of dramatic reduction in emissions that we need to see in the next 10 years.”

“Now is the time for increased collaboration and innovation to tackle the climate crisis. This Coalition goes beyond a simple pledge, with EU institutions and industry joining forces to advance shared climate ambitions, by accelerating investment in innovative digital solutions for the benefit of Europe’s sustainable future,” said Casper Klynge, Microsoft’s Vice-President for European Government Affairs

UNEP’s support for the European Green Digital Coalition is part of an effort to use data and digital tools to encourage politicians, business leaders and consumers to embrace sustainable consumption and production. The initiative is designed to help the world tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution over the next 10 years.

Digital technology could help reduce the world’s carbon emissions by about 17 per cent, according to a report from the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations body. Industry players say artificial intelligence, for example, could help make electric transmission grids more efficient. Blockchain technology could allow concerned citizens to track corporate carbon emissions. And the use of satellites can be further enhanced in monitoring environmental changes including activities such as illegal logging, mining and waste dumping, at sea or on land.

UNEP experts say, though, that there is a need to develop consistent metrics to measure the impact of technology on the environment, which will be key to minimizing the negative consequences of digitalization.

The tech sector is responsible for 2 to 3 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Data centres that mine for the cryptocurrency Bitcoin alone consumed up to 0.3 per cent of the world’s electricity in 2019, as much as Belgium.

“The tech industry really needs to lead this change,” said Philippe Singer, the co-founder of Leaders for Climate Action, a non-profit group. “If we move forward as a tech industry with a positive narrative, we can put pressure on politicians to put in stronger legislation but also get other industries to follow this example.”

On Friday, European nations also signed a pledged to support what they called “clean digital technologies.” Among other things, countries vowed to build 5G and 6G networks while backing blockchain technology, quantum computing and artificial intelligence, which they described as potential game-changers in the battle against planetary warming.

In the years to come, it will be vital for countries to harness the power of digital technology while at the same time respecting the rights of their citizens, said Andersen. “We are standing at a pivotal moment in human history. Decisions we take today to address environmental challenges and the governance of digital technology will set off a chain reaction that will determine the trajectory of life on this planet.”

UN Environment

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Deloitte Introduces ReadyAI™ Artificial Intelligence-as-a-Service Solution

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Deloitte introduced ReadyAI, a full portfolio of capabilities and services to help organizations accelerate and scale their artificial intelligence (AI) projects. ReadyAI brings together skilled AI specialists and managed services in a flexible AI-as-a-service model designed to help clients scale AI throughout their organizations.

The AI market is expected to exceed $191 billion by 2024, growing at 37% compound annual growth rate. As organizations accelerate their adoption of AI, many struggle with challenges such as limited access to specialized talent, slow development cycles, and the resources to continuously maintain AI models. Creating and sustaining AI models at scale typically requires people with capabilities across data science, IT operations and user experience (UX) who work seamlessly towards a common goal. With Deloitte’s ReadyAI, organizations now have access to the services, technology and expertise they need to accelerate their AI journey.

ReadyAI offers comprehensive service capabilities including:

Data preparation: Provide data extraction, wrangling and standardization services. Also supports advanced analytical model development through feature engineering.

Insights and visualization: Design and generate reports and visual dashboards utilizing data output from automations to improve business outcomes and automation performance.

Advanced analytics: Data analysis for both structured and unstructured data. Creation of rule-based bots and insights-as-a-service.

Machine learning and deep learning: ML and deep learning model development. Video and text analytics to assist conversational AI.

Machine learning deployment: Create deployment architecture and pipelines for upstream and downstream integration of ML models.

Model management and MLOps: Management of model performance, migration and maintenance. Automation of model monitoring process and overall DevOps for machine learning.

Deloitte’s recent “State of AI in the Enterprise” third edition study of enterprise AI adopters found that less than half of adopters believe they have a high level of skill around integrating AI technology into their existing IT environment. With a talent pool of more than 3,100 AI professionals, Deloitte can assemble teams that have the right combination of industry, domain and AI technology skills to best suit clients’ needs. These experts include cloud engineers, data scientists, data architects, technology and application engineers, business and domain specialists, and visualization and design specialists. By leveraging the right combination of skills, organizations can quickly accelerate their AI journey.

ReadyAI teams operate as an extension of clients’ teams often for engagements of six months or more. Services are available as a flexible, subscription model, allowing clients to scale resources and capabilities up or down based on business needs and priorities. Learn more about ReadyAI.

Gartner, the world’s leading information technology and advisory company, named Deloitte a Leader for the seventh time in a row in its February 2021 report titled, “Magic Quadrant for Data and Analytics Service Providers.”

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Positive Tech Solutions Will Forge The Recovery

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Global leaders back the need for more technology governance to tackle the most pressing global problems at the World Economic Forum’s inaugural Global Technology Governance Summit, which closed on Wednesday.

The summit, hosted by Japan, was opened by Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide with a welcome address in which he emphasized the timeliness of discussions among leaders on the implementation of digital technologies in the post-COVD era. Suga also reaffirmed his commitment to accelerating reforms to create the world’s most advanced digital society.

More than 2,000 leaders gathered virtually to address the adoption of technology to improve lives and respond to global challenges. The World Economic Forum Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) Network will develop this work throughout 2021 and beyond.

An interactive experience was designed for the participants, embedding technology into the summit. Registered participants were invited to learn about non-fungible tokens (NFTs) by collecting fragments – called “shards” – of “Voice Gems” designed by artist Harry Yeff (Reeps 100). Over 250 shards were minted on the first day.

Among the summits outcomes and commitments include:

Two new regional networks of cities were launched in Latin America and South Asia as part of the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance. The city networks, modelled after the C4IR Japan’s successful Japan Smart City Alliance, aim to bolster small and medium-sized cities’ capacity to realize the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s benefits and safeguard against governance challenges.

The C4IR Network will support Agile Nations, a global initiative to enable government, business, and civil society to share evidence and insights into innovative governance. The Network re-committed its support for the Agile50 initiative at the summit, recognizing the role of experts and business leaders in driving agility in governments worldwide.

To address pressing challenges and opportunities relating to the rise of new digital currency, central bank digital currency, and so-called “stablecoins,” the Digital Currency Governance Consortium (DCGC) is convening more than 80 organizations representing numerous sectors and geographies.

The Forum established the Future of the Connected World initiative with five priority areas for collective action in 2021-2022. Building on the pilot project’s success for Accelerating the Impact of Industrial IoT for SMEs in São Paolo, Brazil, the C4IR Network will expand projects in Colombia, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Turkey.

Executive leaders from the public and private sector, representing more than 12 countries on five continents, released a new roadmap for building a connected future that benefits all. The roadmap and global action plan seek to rally and mobilize the international community on a set of five actions and 37 initiatives to advance the governance of the internet of things and related technologies.

The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) will adopt the framework and pilot it as part of its World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport, trialling autonomous delivery vehicles and using the framework to test a series of performance-based regulations. The impact of this is a framework developed by a Forum project sponsored by the Global Autonomous Vehicle Council (GAVC), which is being used as an incremental part of Dubai’s roadmap to make 25% of its travel driverless by 2030.

The following reports and white papers were published:

The Rebuilding Trust and Governance: Towards Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT) white paper gives a bird’s-eye view of global data governance issues, including privacy, fair competition, cybersecurity and transparency to strengthen trust-governance mechanisms.

The Medicine from the Sky: Opportunities and Lessons from Drones in Africa report provides a framework for evaluating where these technologies can be best applied to improve healthcare.

A new resource, Global Governance Toolkit for Digital Mental Health, provides help for governments, regulators and independent assurance bodies to address growing ethical concerns over the use of technology in mental and behavioural health.

The Technology Futures report outlines new ways for leaders to predict future trends. It provides a framework for leaders to assign probability to trends and forecast risks and uses speculative fiction to bring these to life.

A new white paper, Co-designing Digital Interventions and Technology Projects with Civil Society outlines how policy-makers and business leaders can collaborate with civil society to address power imbalances. It explores how each sector can co-design tech and bring equitable access.

Transforming Rural Mobility with MaaS explores mobility as a service (MaaS), which will be at the forefront of a new generation of mobility services. It focuses on examples from Japan and examines the common challenges and success factors for MaaS to support local government and related enterprises to transform mobility.

The C4IR Network Affiliate Centres made the following commitments:

C4IR Brazil will launch a data governance prototype for noncommunicable disease (NCD) patients to facilitate remote monitoring and public-private sharing of patients’ data in the health system.

C4IR Colombia will publish a regulatory framework for data exchange with the Data for Common Purpose Initiative.

C4IR India initiated the Artificial intelligence for Agriculture Innovation (AI4AI) project to explore the use of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies throughout the food chain, from seed to fork. The project, supported by more than 60 industry, government and start-up partners, is currently piloted in Telangana, India. C4IR India has also launched Fourth Industrial Revolution for Sustainable Transformation of Health (FIRST Health). Theproject explores the role of the Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies in 18 areas of health, including preventive, curative and governance.

C4IR Israel is committed to enabling the future of mobility by taking the existing pilot programmes and creating a scalable commercial business model that is safe, sustainable and ethical.

C4IR Japan has developed an approach called Authorized Public Purpose Access (APPA), which seeks to use data for the public good while balancing all stakeholders’ rights and interests.

The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Ocean will lead the Action Coalition on Ocean Data together with Microsoft. The coalition strives to deliver open, transparent and easily accessible universal data to comprehensively understand “life below water” for better policies and decision-making. The coalition will be open and inclusive to all actors seeking to liberate ocean data; the Ocean Data Platform will be at the heart of solutions to unlock this data.

C4IR Rwanda’s most recent work on pending data protection legislation will serve as a foundation in helping to achieve Rwanda’s ambitions of becoming a proof-of-concept hub for technology innovation and regulation.

C4IR Saudi Arabia will hold its official launch event, along with projects designed to advance multistakeholder collaboration on agile governance frameworks and AI, IoT and blockchain. The centre will develop frameworks that usher in advanced autonomous mobility through heavy-lift drones and accelerate the advent of autonomous trucks and vessels, thereby expanding mobility opportunities for air, land, and sea.

C4IR South Africa will address the needs of small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMMEs) by launching a series of projects to develop policy protocols for accelerating the adoption of emerging technologies by SMMEs and mitigating associated risks.

C4IR Turkey will address the need for human-centric technology using governance models designed by the collective rationality that has emerged from the rapid spread of IoT, AI, and other Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies.

C4IR UAE is launching a report focused on developing a precision medicine programme locally, highlighting the critical process areas, including the infrastructure and regulatory environment. It aims to further the growth of the healthcare industry in the UAE and exchange healthcare data globally. C4IR UAE will also lead multiple tokenization pilots to test blockchain technology to modernize the financial system and improve access to capital and liquidity to further economic diversification and digital growth in the UAE.

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New Resource for Protecting Personal Data for Mental Health Apps

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The COVID-19 crisis has exposed an enduring silent epidemic and greatly accelerated the need for a properly funded and functioning global mental health ecosystem. New ethical questions about safety, efficacy, equity and sustainability are being raised by groups worldwide. Over 10,000 mental health apps are currently on the market, but regulations are not robust enough to protect against the sharing of sensitive consumer data or measure the quality of disruptive technologies such as AI-based chatbots, therapy in virtual reality, or digital phenotyping.

The Global Governance Toolkit for Digital Mental Health: Building Trust in Disruptive Technology for Mental Health, launched today by the World Economic Forum and Deloitte, aims to provide governments, regulators and independent assurance bodies with the tools to protect personal data, ensure high quality of service, endorse effective outcomes and address safety concerns.

These tools include a framework of governance principles, standards and processes, along with a code of ethics and a methodology for adapting these to different jurisdictions’ cultural, legal, medical and clinical situations.

Arnaud Bernaert, Head of Shaping the Future of Health and Healthcare, World Economic Forum, said: “People are turning to technology solutions to a growing number of challenges. It is important that services are trusted and people are asking the right questions about the services they are using. This toolkit will hopefully be a resource for governments, businesses and consumers to ensure a safer and more trustworthy future.”

Stephanie Allen, Global Health Care Sector Leader, Deloitte, said: “This initiative is about protecting consumers, enabling them to more easily assess quality mental healthcare, helping them make more informed choices about their own mental health, and encouraging the strategic growth of safe, ethical and effective digital mental health services.”

The toolkit has been piloted in partnership with the New Zealand Ministry of Health. It can be used by governments and regulators to create principles and standards that encourage the safe, ethical and strategic implementation of digital mental health services, by healthcare and insurance organizations to integrate high-quality digital mental health services, and by digital mental health innovators and consumers to create and use trusted services.

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