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Telecoms and technology innovations

A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT? THERE'S AN APP FOR THAT...

Creek Watch is a new iPhone application that enables people to help monitor the health of their local waterways. Whenever they pass by waterways they can take a picture and report what they see, from how fast the water is flowing, to how much rubbish is present. Creek Watch collects the data and shares it with water control boards to help them track pollution, manage water resources and plan environmental programmes.

Mobile technology is increasingly being used to mobilise the public to monitor their local environment. French organisation Montre Verte recruits citizens to monitor the air quality around Paris, while the Urban Forest Map allows people to map the trees of San Francisco.

See how it works

Benefits:
biodiversity
Innovators: IBM Research, Living Environments Lab, California State Water Control Board.

Videoconferencing

REDUCING BUSINESS TRAVEL THROUGH VIDEOCONFERENCING

New technology means it’s possible to be present at a meeting almost anywhere in the world without actually having to travel there. Videoconferencing technology is well established and easily accessible, and is improving all the time. Substituting telepresence for business travel saves time and money, and substantially reduces carbon emissions. This combination makes a very appealing business case. If large UK and US businesses implemented 10,000 telepresence units – 5.5 million metric tonnes of CO2 emissions will be saved from reduced business travel.

Benefits: carbon reduction
Innovators: Cisco, HP, Polycom, AT&T

ENVIRONMENTAL SENSOR NETWORKS

Networks of cheap micro-sensors – mini-computers that collect high resolution, real-time data – could transform the way we monitor and manage our impact on the natural environment. One project in the Australian rainforest is using solar-powered sensors to measure variables such as temperature and moisture, and analysing audio and video to estimate species numbers.

Possible benefits include better ecosystem health monitoring for critically endangered habitats, and more accurate resource management for fisheries, forest carbon, watersheds and aquifers. Environmental sensor networks are also being used in adaptive buildings that automatically respond to changes in temperature and weather to manage heating, cooling and lighting.

Benefits: biodiversity; energy efficiency
Innovators: HP

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Monarch butterflies flying in warmth of midday sun,  Mexico

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