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IBM launches AI-powered software suite to fight climate change

By Catherine Knowles, Wed 13 Oct 21

IBM has launched a suite of environmental intelligence software that leverages AI. The new suite is designed to help organisations prepare for and respond to weather and climate risks that may disrupt business, assess their own impact on the planet, and reduce the complexity of regulatory compliance and reporting.

Extreme weather, climate action failure and human-led environmental damage were cited as the top three most likely risks for businesses over the next ten years in the World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report 2021.

This highlights the fact that businesses need actionable environmental insights, and developed tools beyond current methods that are often cumbersome and complex, IBM states.

The IBM Environmental Intelligence Suite is designed to streamline and automate the management of environmental risks and operationalise underlying processes, including carbon accounting and reduction, to meet environmental goals.

The suite leverages existing weather data from IBM, advanced geospatial analytics already in use by companies globally, and new innovations from IBM Research.

According to IBM, the offering is the first to bring together AI, weather data, climate risk analytics and carbon accounting capabilities in this way, allowing organisations to spend less resources curating complex data, and more on analysing it for insights and taking action to improve their operations.

More specifically, the new suite is a SaaS solution designed to help organisations:

  • Monitor for disruptive environmental conditions such as severe weather, wildfires, flooding and air quality and send alerts when detected
  • Predict potential impacts of climate change and weather across the business using climate risk analytics
  • Gain insights into potential operational disruptions and prioritise mitigation and response efforts
  • Measure and report on environmental initiatives and operationalise carbon accounting, while reducing the burden of this reporting on procurement and operations teams

The suite delivers environmental insights via APIs, dashboards, maps and alerts that can help companies address both immediate operational challenges as well as longer term planning and strategies.

For instance, according to IBM the suite could be used to help:

  • Retailers prepare for severe weather-related shipping and inventory disruptions or factor environmental risks into future warehouse locations
  • Energy and utility companies to determine where to trim vegetation around power lines or which of their critical assets may soon be at greater risk from wildfires due to climate change
  • Supermarkets get a clearer picture of how refrigeration systems are contributing to their overall greenhouse gas emissions and prioritise locations for improvement

The IBM Environmental Intelligence Suite also takes advantage of AI-driven innovations from IBM Research that enable climate and data scientists to analyse massive environmental datasets, and a new climate risk modelling framework used to generate data on future wildfire and flooding risks.

Additionally, IBM states the suite will leverage technologies from IBM Research which apply natural language processing and automation designed to help companies estimate carbon emissions and identify opportunities to reduce them across their operations or with suppliers.

The suite can be integrated with IBM's broader software portfolio for additional efficiencies across business operations, including IBM Maximo Application Suite to protect and extend the lifecycle of critical assets, and IBM Supply Chain Intelligence Suite to build more sustainable and resilient supply chains.

Businesses can also tap into the cross-industry expertise of IBM Global Business Services in order to design, implement and accelerate environmental business transformation journeys.

These strategies include reimagining operations, supply chains, emissions management, or ESG and climate risk reporting with the help of emerging technologies to assist organisations in meeting their environmental goals.

IBM AI Applications general manager Kareem Yusuf, Ph.D., says, "The future of business and the environment are deeply intertwined.

"Not only are companies coping with the effects of extreme weather disruptions on their operations, they're also being held increasingly accountable by shareholders and regulators for how their operations impact the planet.

"IBM is bringing together the power of AI and hybrid cloud to provide businesses with environmental intelligence designed to help them improve environmental performance and reporting, create more efficient business operations to reduce resource consumption, and plan for resiliency in the face of climate disruptions."

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