Marketing and Communications Director, Vodafone Business
Today I’m stood in a remote location in Sardinia, watching an eco-conscious race competition. When I joined Vodafone Business last year, I knew sustainability was at the heart of this organisation, but I didn’t imagine this is where it would take me, to a place where Vodafone Business technology is helping a race series combat climate change. Let me explain.
In late 2018, Alejandro Agag, Founder and Chairman of Formula E, was having breakfast with racing driver Gil de Ferran, when the pair stumbled across an idea. What if they could use this world-class sport to tell the story of climate change, showcasing damaged environments and the huge challenges that face our planet? And so was born, a radical new racing series, Extreme E.
The first eco-conscious motorsport, Extreme E sees all-electric SUVs compete in an annual five-part racing series held in extreme locations across the globe that have already been damaged or affected by climate and environmental issues, such as the Saudi Arabian desert or the Arctic.
To minimise impact, both the teams and the vehicles travel by cargo ship, the race fleet uses hydrogen fuel cell technology to charge with zero emission energy and the race is closed to public spectators. Instead, fans are able to follow the race through live TV broadcast, as well as social media.
In addition, Extreme E aims to leave each location better than it found it and it does that through its Legacy Programmes.
This is the part I’m most excited about as it’s where we can really leverage our partnership and use our technology to make a real difference. For example, we’re currently teaming up with MEDSEA in Sardinia to support recovery response to the region’s devastating forest fires.
Creating a more sustainable Sardinia with technology
In 2021 fires blazed through 20,000 hectares of land in Sardinia, forcing over 1,000 people to have to relocate and killing around 30 million bees.
Wildfires like these are responsible for 20% of total global CO2 emissions and cost around $5bn to fight.
As we work to minimise the forest fires, we’re using the Internet of Things (IoT) to detect forest fires early on. Working closely with Extreme E, we want to restore the historic olive groves lost to wildfires and run a fire prevention campaign with the local communities.
Our long-life low power sensors work quickly to detect any sign of a fire or smoke and send an alert direct to the local authorities.
These low-cost IoT sensors are able to operate without the need for cellular coverage, offering always-on connectivity.
The sensors will be placed on trees to gather data and detect the smouldering phase, providing relevant information for the appropriate services including firefighters and local farmers, to let them know before the fire takes hold, helping to preserve the forest footprint.
This collaboration will help sustainability efforts and benefit the local area and environment, not just by reducing the costs of firefighting and saving the wildlife species impacted by the forest fires in Sardinia, but also by optimising tree growth and monitoring environmental conditions.
Enabling greener digital transformation
But the motorsport and technology industry cannot solve the climate crisis by themselves, it will take industries everywhere to work towards a common goal to reduce carbon emissions.
Alongside our own commitment as a global company, we have also given ourselves a goal to help our customers to reduce their carbon emissions by a total of 350 million tonnes between 2020 and 2030. This will be largely delivered by our IoT solutions.
Less than a year after our commitment was made, Carbon Trust calculated that we helped our customers avoid an estimated 7.1 million tonnes of CO2e during FY21, with more than 54% of our 123 million IoT connections directly enabling customers to reduce their own emissions.
Passionate about creating a better tomorrow, we want to keep working with like-minded organisations, such as Extreme E, to encourage creative and innovative sustainability methods to improve people’s lives.