A Data-Driven Approach to Sustainability

Angela Harvey

Posted by Angela Harvey on August 8, 2019

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Technology changes the world. In my personal life it’s changed the way I track my runs, plan meals and shop for my family and even the way I communicate with them (Hey Google, broadcast ,“Get you shoes on NOW! We are LATE!” is commonly heard in my home).

Sometimes when we think about how technology changes our lives the views are dystopian. But I truly believe embracing technology can help us work towards a greater good. Opinions are vast and riddled with unconscious bias, so when tackling a problem it’s best to deal in facts.

Recently we did just that with the SAP HANA service. SAP is a supporter of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and we took a data-driven approach to addressing goals 2—Zero Hunger and 5—Gender Equality.

We produced detailed articles on Gender Equality and Zero Hunger using numerous, disparate, and multi-model data sources to test common assumptions about the causes of gender inequality and hunger.

Having the data in one place is one place was critical. SAP HANA lets you combine multi-model data (like spatial, graph text as well as relational data) and perform analytics on transactional data. Native data integration tools let you replicate the data into SAP HANA or virtualize it (i.e. query the data without having to physically copy it into HANA).

Using SAP HANA as a database, we were also able to create interactive applications to help drill into root causes of an issue.

Here is the application for Zero Hunger, built on the SAP HANA service on SAP Cloud Platform. While arable land is often considered to be a major factor for hunger, in our analysis we found that infrastructure (electricity, railways, and refrigeration) along with GDP is more impactful than environmental factors. This is positive since funding and infrastructure can be influenced by the global community while natural resources cannot.

The application for Gender Equality (also built on the SAP HANA service) disproves the notion men are more highly educated and instead shines a light on the fact gender-specific jobs (where women comprise most of the workforce) often pay less. And it also drills into women contributing more to unpaid work like childcare.

By using data to get a clear assessment of the issues at hand we can work towards a better solution (and continue the feeback cycle by placing KPIs around success and continually measuring progress).

To read our detailed findings on Gender Equality and Zero Hunger simply follow the links.

Or learn more about SAP HANA at sap.com/HANA.

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