Sustainability at your fingertips

Sustainable development is a global effort and mobile technology is part of it




With everything that’s going on in the world, it sometimes makes me think about what kind of legacy my children and grandchildren are inheriting. It can be concerning, but I like to take the time to think about what I can do to make an impact and support sustainable development.


In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly set a collection of 17 sustainable development goals to guide nations and industries toward achieving a more sustainable future. These goals aim to address, among other things, poverty and food security, health, education, equality, environment and economy, in an attempt to meet the needs of the present with compromising future generations’ ability to meet their needs.


In September of last year, GSMA, an industry organization that represents mobile operators worldwide, published a report examining the impact of the mobile industry on these goals over the past five years.


Some of the mobile industry’s successes described in GSMA’s “2020 Mobile Industry Impact Report: Sustainable Development Goals” include:

· In the past five years, mobile connectivity has contributed an incremental 4 percent of overall growth in the global GDP

· The mobile industry has increased global employment by 5 million

· Use of mobile technology has powered a global reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that is 10 times greater than the global carbon footprint of the mobile industry itself


A lot can be learned from the global stage about how mobile technology can help alleviate issues right here at home.


First, mobile technology is a tool for communication and connecting people. Organizations use mobile technology to organize events (such as humanitarian efforts) to help the community and to disseminate public information that can educate and encourage positive behaviors.


Another major way that mobile technology can support sustainable development is by driving sustainable economic growth and helping households improve their finances.


Mobile connections can help individuals better manage their cash flow, handle debt and manage their finances. With mobile apps, users have easy access to their bank accounts so they can check their funds quickly.


In addition, being able to pay bills more online can help individuals or households avoid late charges. Someone that is working two jobs may not have time to go to a bank or institution to pay bills but can use their mobile phone anywhere and anytime. This is money that can be spent on necessities or that can go toward savings. Being able to monitor money in real-time can improve budgeting and also lead to more savings. One of the many lessons to learn from the pandemic is the necessity of having emergency savings.


For businesses, mobile technology provides access to cost-effective and easy-to-use platforms, like social media, that help them reach more customers in non-local markets, which in turn allows them to expand and create new jobs for local communities. We see that quite frequently in our tourism industry when its thriving. Visitors like to research their destination and find out what to do or where to eat.


Those in the agricultural industry could also leverage mobile technology and the internet to improve their operations. Farmers can use their mobile phones to access agricultural advisories, information about best practices, and weather forecasts, all which help them tend to their crops and livestock. In addition, farmers can use mobile technology to market their products.


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Mobile technology is helping with sustainable development by making education more accessible and affordable, not only for the youth but also for professionals. According to GSMA, as of 2019 more people are using mobile to access educational information for themselves or their children, representing 40 percent of mobile subscribers globally. Professions that require regular training and education benefit from mobile access to courses, such as healthcare providers that must complete continuing education credits.


Climate action and protecting the environment are a major focus of sustainable development and mobile technology contributes significantly to reducing carbon emissions and educating the community about renewable energy.


In agriculture, mobile technology is creatively used to contribute to sustainability. Farming equipment can be monitored and controlled remotely via mobile apps on smartphones so that famers can properly manage resources. For example, water pumps and irrigation systems can be monitored and controlled to prevent excessive use of water. Farmers can access information and tips for sustainable practices via the internet or by communicating with other farmers using their smartphones, as well.


Mobile technology helps reduce pollution. eCommerce is a growing industry that allows people shop, pay bills and so on without leaving the home, thereby reducing carbon emissions.


But businesses will also be able to do their part to reduce emissions by utilizing vehicle monitoring and fleet management. For example, MiFleet, a fleet management solution created by DCS and offered in Guam and CNMI by IT&E provides trailer tracking, fuel monitoring, driver ID, notifications, ELD, geofencing, engine diagnostics, driver behavior, ignition on/off and instant visibility. All these features allow enterprises to reduce costs and increase efficiency.


As Guam moves toward renewable energy, mobile technology will play a role in disseminating information to the community. Public-Law 36-46, signed into law in November 2019, sets new renewable energy goals for the Guam Power Authority to adjust its portfolio to include 50 percent renewable energy by 2035.


Solar energy will be a big part of that transition, I believe, and as residents and businesses consider converting to renewable energy, they’ll need the necessary information and tools. Guam residents can already pay their power bills and monitor their energy consumption using the GPA mobile app. Similar apps and online services for monitoring power generated by solar panels will be needed and will ease the transition.

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In addition, smart home technology that is mobile-enabled, may become more widely used in households looking to reduce their power consumption. Smart home appliances like air conditioning and lights can be monitored and controlled remotely with a mobile phone app, so homeowners can ensure they are not consuming excessive energy. Appliances and devices can also be monitored and controlled by smart hubs and speakers, like the Echo Dot. It’s as easy as telling your smart speaker to turn off the lights at night in case you fall asleep with the lights on.


Smart plugs can decrease energy consumption from standby devices, like televisions, that are plugged in and drawing energy, but are not in use. These devices can be set to disconnect electronic devices when they’re not in use, such as during the day when no one is home and for your convenience, reconnect them at a certain time, like in the evening when everyone returns from work or school.


Sustainable development is a huge, but necessary, undertaking. There are many things individuals, businesses and organizations can do set the stage for a better future, whether it’s to pledge to invest in renewable energy or simply using our mobile phones to take notes instead of using paper.


A good place to start, if one hasn’t started already, is to learn more about sustainable development.


Jay R. Shedd is Senior Director of Sales, Marketing and Customer Service at IT&E, the largest wireless service and sales provider in Guam and the Marianas. He has more than 30 years of experience in the telecommunications industry.



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