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Sustainable Development Goals

What do the SDGs mean for TMT in 2018?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 goals set out by the United Nations within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; they call for urgent collective action towards global challenges, such as hunger, unemployment and climate change. Businesses can help bridge the gap towards achieving the SDGs by enshrining sustainable development in their purpose and core activities; businesses are increasingly finding that there is an inextricable link between a commitment to sustainable development and enduring commercial success.

Overview

There are clear links to be drawn between businesses in the TMT space and the SDGs. For example, the affordability and ubiquity of mobile technology, with ever-increasing connectivity and access, provides a unique platform for enhancing economic and social development as displayed by the GSMA’s initiative ‘Big Data for Social Good’. As industries continue to innovate, new and improved technologies find new applications with the potential to contribute.

Deloitte’s 2018 TMT predictions touch on future changes in this landscape. In particular, the increasing capability and use of machine learning, the rising creation of augmented reality content, and the changing capabilities and uses of smartphones have broad potential to contribute towards the SDGs.

That opportunity to contribute grows as technology becomes ‘smarter’ and more efficient with impacts across each of the 17 goals. From improving medical diagnoses to monitoring and optimising household energy efficiency, technology change can help to support the vulnerable, reduce inequalities and raising living standards for all through inclusive growth.

There are already examples in the market today, where the developments highlighted by our TMT predictions are making an impact on the SDGs.

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2018 TMT Predictions

What impact can the TMT Predictions have on the Sustainable Development Goals?

The potential impact of the TMT predictions on each SDG was assessed by industry experts.

Many of the TMT Predictions have the potential to make a large impact on the SDGs, however we have chosen to detail those related to advances in, and novel applications of, technology as these to have the highest potential to accelerate the SDGs.

Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger

We expect increased automation and improved smartphone sensors to advance contributions to addressing issues related to hunger by optimising scarce resources and productivity within agriculture. Organisations such as The PlantVillage Project employ algorithms and deep learning to train computers to diagnose crop disease. Using a smartphone app, farmers can snap a photograph of their sick plant and, through sensor and processing advances, get a diagnosis within seconds. Increased usage of machine learning will also substantially increase efficiency within agriculture. Blue River Technology produce smart agriculture equipment that includes a camera and machine learning to identify plants. If the camera sees a weed, it sprays it with pesticide; if it sees a crop, it drops some fertilizer. This can reduce chemical usage by up to 90 percent, both reducing hunger and protecting the environment. As the chips used in machine learning become exponentially more powerful and responsive, we can expect a similar exponential increase in the impact that machine learning capabilities can have for ending hunger through more advanced agricultural techniques.

Sustainable Development Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being

Machine learning is already contributing to improved diagnoses and treatment of diseases. Your.MD has created a health ecosystem that connects users to the best healthcare providers most relevant to their problem. Driven by AI in each step, this allows for constant improvement and scalability. Improved smartphone processing also has potential to enable diagnostics “on-the-go” or in remote areas. Excelscope is a portable smart microscope and diagnostic tool that combines the processing capabilities of a smartphone with 3D printable mechanical components. It allows a smartphone alone to both magnify a blood specimen and run the magnified images through an AI app to diagnose Malaria. As smartphone penetration increases, access to mobile diagnostics will expand, magnifying the effect of the improvements in smartphone processing enabling these innovations.

Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education

Developments in machine learning can raise educational standards through improved educational apps, digital engagement, and personalised learning. Arifu is a Kenya-based education technology company that leverages AI to deliver personalised learning. Through a chat-bot on mobile devices, Arifu provide access to information on topics such as farming, entrepreneurship and financial literacy. Live broadcasting these lectures and lessons would enable a wider audience to learn and could revolutionise education. Live EDU is already targeting the $46 billion online learning market by providing a project-based live learning platform for people to improve their technical job skills in multiple fields, primarily focused on technology skills such as programing and artificial intelligence.

The future of TMT

The future of TMT is one of rapid change and innovation. Where changing technologies are applied to social good, their impact on building a better, more sustainable world can be huge. Accelerating and maximising this impact will require businesses to align their core activities with sustainable development, applying novel technologies in innovative ways that further the goals whilst delivering enduring commercial success.

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