March 23, 2023 By Kareem Yusuf, Ph.D
Jack Dangermond
3 min read

Businesses today have greater responsibility than simply making profits; they have a role to play in ensuring our planet remains livable for generations to come. Each year, we collectively release over 50 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, up 40% from 1990. Of these emissions, roughly 80% come from real estate, industry and transportation. If we’re going to succeed in sustainable development, actions must involve business owners.

And businesses are responding. According to a 2022 survey of 3,000 CEOs worldwide, nearly half (48%) of respondents ranked sustainability as a top priority for their organizations—an increase of 37% from 2021. However, many of these organizations lack a clear, data-driven pathway to realizing their goals. That’s where the partnership between IBM and Esri comes in.

IBM has been committed to environmental stewardship for over 50 years, and sustainability is core to the company’s brand. IBM offers a portfolio of solutions to help businesses gain valuable insights and embed data-driven decisions to drive sustainable business operations. Esri, the global leader in geographic information system (GIS) technology, has been committed to helping its global community of users build a sustainable world since 1969. Deeply rooted in science, Esri’s mapping and analytics platforms have enabled hundreds of thousands of organizations around the world to understand how they can bring their human activities into balance with the natural world.

To truly make the greatest impact, we all need to work together. This is why IBM and Esri are expanding their partnership to take efforts a step further. By incorporating Esri’s geospatial technology into IBM’s sustainability solutions, we can help organizations see the path to achieving their sustainability goals more clearly than ever before.

A new view of data

Geospatial data can be a key to unlocking change. Paired with IBM’s suite of sustainability solutions, Esri’s GIS capabilities can reveal a richer spatial context of a business’s assets and operations. This extends the life of assets, unlocks significant enhancements to efficiency and identifies ways to mitigate the risks caused by the environmental impacts of greenhouse gas emissions.

For asset-intensive industries, using the IBM Maximo® Application Suite and the IBM Environmental Intelligence Suite, enriched with Esri’s geospatial analytics and visualization tools, businesses can optimize industrial site management. They can also speed remediation by more easily identifying equipment that produces unnecessary waste or emissions. Mapping and modeling vast amounts of weather data allows renewable energy providers to predict electricity needs well in advance of demand. Additionally, the transportation industry can proactively plan for (and more quickly mitigate) delays and disruptions. And infrastructure companies can minimize the risk of business interruptions, increase operational efficiency and extend asset lifecycles, enhancing resiliency and improving sustainability.

Supply chain volatility has also become a significant issue for businesses around the globe, with distribution networks facing significant challenges from the consequences of climate change and geopolitical instability. With the help of IBM’s Supply Chain Intelligence Suite and Esri’s ArcGIS software, businesses can trace the origin and movement of products, then map that information onto the globe to evaluate risks along transit paths and at key locations (like ports). These insights can also help organizations improve the efficiency of shipping routes, thereby reducing their carbon footprints.

Power utility companies are also using this aspect of route efficiency to great effect for tasks like vegetation management. Overgrown trees near utility lines pose a risk of fire as well as power outages. By harnessing satellite data and LiDAR feeds from aircraft, utility companies can use the IBM Vegetation Management solution powered by GIS technology to reconcile discrepancies between the locations of trees and power lines, and then use AI tools to optimize the routes of tree trimming crews.

The benefits of viewing data through a geospatial lens extend to the inside of facilities. Many organizations are struggling to optimize their real estate usage to best accommodate the fluctuations of their hybrid workforce. Esri offers ArcGIS Indoors that converts building floor plans into indoor maps. Coupled with operational data from IBM TRIRIGA® Application Suite and IBM Maximo Application Suite, businesses can get a better spatial understanding of employee occupancy patterns and optimize services like lighting, heating and cooling (as well as calibrating their needs for space). They can also implement indoor positioning (via ArcGIS IPS) and navigation to guide employees and maintenance workers throughout facilities, manage space assignments and support employees with workspace reservations.

Partnering for the future

Esri and IBM’s partnership is three decades strong, and we are ready to take it to the next level. Going forward, you can expect our partnership to yield even more powerful solutions to drive improvements in sustainability performance and operational efficiency. For example, we’re exploring new ways of merging IBM’s research and AI capabilities with Esri’s geospatial technology to allow customers to gain even deeper insights into their data.

Meeting the goals of sustainable development requires improvements across a range of our current practices. By empowering businesses with an ever-improving toolset to analyze and act on their data, the roadmap for change is growing clearer. It’s going to take all of us working together, and Esri and IBM are proud to be doing our part.

Learn more about how to turn sustainability ambition into action

Learn more about advancing the power of geography

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