Building The Connected Energy And Water Future

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Deepak Garg, in a Forbes INNOVATION article elaborated on building the connected energy and water future.  Here it is :

 

Building The Connected Energy And Water Future

We have read about many versions of our planet’s future: some good, some bad, some urgent and some distant.

In all versions, collective humanity is responsible for either the downfall or the reconstruction of the planet. Collective responsibility is fascinating. How do we mobilize billions of people toward a common goal? It is equally challenging and thrilling, as grand as it sounds and as aspiring as it can be.

Thinking about today and tomorrow, I imagine the possibilities: a world where energy and water are sustainable and abundant—a world where billions are connected and empowered. And I believe this is happening. We are gradually moving toward a connected energy and water future, with utilities, smart cities and governments playing a crucial role. They are reinventing human experiences, helping people make smart decisions about optimizing energy and water use every day.

There’s no new playbook or secret mantra to this success; the digital platforms and capabilities we’ve built have brought forth a sea of change. With them, utilities worldwide are uniting people around a common goal.

Connection Is Key

By connecting people with new technology for meaningful interactions and with front-line workers to ensure better two-way communication, utilities have started to build a digital ecosystem, enabling them to meet customer expectations and improve responsiveness.

From streamlining billing and payments to being available 24/7, providing personalized omnichannel interactions, advising on programs that help in saving energy and water and giving real-time updates, customers are getting the right assistance at every step from their utilities.

On the other hand, utilities are also enabling their field workforce with digital platforms, thus providing real-time updates, predictive insights, automation and collaboration for them, establishing a direct 1-to-1 connection with the people.

This connection is the key in mobilizing the right stakeholders to achieve sustainable goals.

So, what are we looking at? Right in front of us, we see:

• Digital utilities are changing the way we work. By blending digital investments with sustainability goals, utilities are delivering measurable outcomes.

• The mesh of IoT, AI, analytics, automation and cognitive techniques is improving predictions, personalization and service delivery. This is done by enabling decentralized work and changing how utilities engage with customers and drive workforce efficiencies.

• The next-gen customer experience is here! Utilities are shifting from a static, one-way consumer relationship to one that is dynamic, context-driven and personalized.

• Power lies first in data, then assets. Utilities are developing a long-term approach to field workforce management by reevaluating what role is played by their workforce and technologies—giving more and more to front-line workers, empowering them with data insights to manage operations remotely and engage with customers on a real-time basis.

• Investment is key. To meet their ambitious plans of moving ahead, utilities are prioritizing digital-first investments, reimagining the utility-consumer relationship and restructuring operations.

We have exciting years ahead, marked by decarbonization and decentralization agendas, changing consumer behaviors, evolving expectations and mobile field workforces. These digital-first and human-centric changes deserve applause as we march ahead to a connected future.

The Future Of The Connected Ecosystem

The connected future will be seen in our smarter homes and smarter cities as we become resource savvy citizens. We, as in billions of people, will see the rapid adoption of renewables, distributed energy resources (DERs), electric vehicles (EVs) and more, and we will see our demands for new energy and water services met. In the future, connected ecosystem utilities will achieve ambitious climate targets—not just net-zero but absolute zero. They will build an intelligent and mobile workforce on the ground using the power of predictive and preventive management to meet customer needs and manage assets.

This is the version of our planet’s future that I am most excited and passionate about.

How Do We Move Forward?

It is difficult to pin down exact steps for how utilities can meet these future needs simply because goal posts are shifting, and we never know when the next disruption will occur. However, lessons that we have learned from the past provide a good reference for how we need to adapt.

Broadly, to build a connected energy and water ecosystem, we would need the following:

1. Utilities must adopt a platform mindset that transcends simple service delivery. Utilities are and will become platform businesses that offer bundled services. For example, a digital marketplace enables customers to buy efficient products. Utilities understand their customer, and when they operate as a platform, they transform the way people consume energy and water.

2. Customers and the citizens need to sit at the center of utility operations. What they need today and will need tomorrow will guide connected experiences. They need savings today, and tomorrow, that will evolve into smart home and EV management. Only a truly customer-centric company will fruitfully engage with customers to adapt to this shift.

3. Building a robust technological foundation with pilot projects in emerging areas will help utilities become more agile and innovative. This also encourages further evolution, where business leaders become tech leaders. Tech leaders will evaluate how current processes can be automated and performed intelligently and how silos can be removed, and teams will then be able to collaborate and work toward a common goal.

4. Lastly, lessons from peers and other industries are always helpful. Keeping a close tab on what other companies are doing helps in widening our perspective and avoids tunnel vision.

I am elated by how much the energy and water industry has evolved in the past couple of years. I’m eager to see where these ambitions will lead them in the coming years.


Forbes Technology Council is an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs and technology executives. Do I qualify?


  Deepak Garg is the CEO and Founder of Smart Energy Water. Connecting People with Energy and Water Providers. Read Deepak Garg’s full executive profile here.
Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

 

How a new generation of entrepreneurs is tackling the world’s biggest challenges

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How a new generation of entrepreneurs is tackling the world’s biggest challenges head on could not be a better story to illustrate the current goings-on amongst all and above all the doers in this world of today.  It is by the World Economic Forum.  Here it is.

How a new generation of entrepreneurs is tackling the world’s biggest challenges head on

  • From the climate crisis to the destruction of natural ecosystems, the world faces an unprecedented set of interconnected challenges.
  • Innovative entrepreneurs are building businesses that protect and restore the planet and everything that lives on it.
  • UpLink is helping over 260 entrepreneurs find the resources, experts and funding they need to take their promising solutions to the next level.

The impact driven by innovative entrepreneurs

From drones that detect illegal fishing and robots that sort plastic waste, to sustainable solutions for the world’s forests and remote learning tools for students struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic – these are just some ways entrepreneurs are using their creative energy to tackle issues within their communities and beyond.

The World Economic Forum created UpLink, an open innovation platform launched in partnership with Salesforce and Deloitte, to unlock an entrepreneur revolution and support positive systemic change for people and planet. Its mission is to create the necessary bridges to the expert help that entrepreneurs need to take their innovations to the next level.

Since its launch in January 2020, UpLink has identified over 260 individuals with highly promising solutions and is working to support their growth through visibility, access and introductions that allow them to scale their businesses. These entrepreneurs are already achieving tremendous impact and, in 2021-2022, they were able to collectively secure more than $942 million in funding to support their activities.

UpLink’s 2021-2022 Impact Report highlights how Top Innovators are addressing issues spanning the environment, economy and society, including protecting or actively managing some 10 million hectares of natural habitat and restoring over 812,000 hectares. They have provided 16.4 million people with access to essential health services and ensured 1.87 million people have gained access to basic sanitation. Additionally, they have successfully educated or trained 5.5 million people and ensured more than 25 million people benefited from greater market access.

“We must ignite an ecopreneur revolution, which is why I’m so excited about UpLink.”

— Marc Benioff, Co-Chief Executive Officer of Salesforce

Which challenges are entrepreneurs facing today?

The world faces an unprecedented set of global issues. From the climate crisis and the destruction of natural ecosystems to the COVID-19 pandemic and rampant income inequality, there is a critical need to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Yet, there are a number of entrepreneurial solutions that can already accelerate the SDGs. Indeed, as US Climate Envoy John Kerry recently said, almost half of the emissions cuts needed to achieve net-zero will come from early-stage solutions and future technologies.

But for many of these entrepreneurs, finding the mentorship, resources and – crucially – funding they need to scale their operations, expand their teams and widen their impact is often beyond their reach, especially for those operating in developing economies.

Unleashing the creative energy of the world’s brightest entrepreneurs is essential and it is crucial to build a collaborative framework around them that can support their innovations and help them thrive.

“Problems and issues that we face as a global community cannot be solved by individual entities or governments. We have to collectively address these issues.”

— Punit Renjen, Chief Executive Officer, Deloitte

Our approach to collaborating with entrepreneurs.

UpLink Since its launch, UpLink has been dedicated to creating this collaborative environment for the world’s entrepreneurs.

The platform is building a digital space where investors, experts and other organizations can work together to elevate and support innovations.

This innovation ecosystem is enabled by:

  • An open digital platform, which sources entrepreneurs from all over the world through innovation challenges in a range of critical areas, including nature, the ocean, plastics, climate change, the circular economy, water, health and education – with many more to come. These are designed and run in collaboration with a diverse set of partners across the public and private sectors, including Accenture, HCL, IKEA Foundation, Friends of Ocean Action, Nestlé, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization.
  • The convening and amplification power of the Forum, which offers increased access to events, initiatives, multi-stakeholder communities and funding opportunities for innovators.

Over the last two years, 46,000 users have joined the UpLink platform and entrepreneurs have submitted 3,500 solutions via 34 innovation challenges. The community has recognized 265 Top Innovators in four categories who are now receiving support to grow their companies.

“Initiatives shouldn’t just come from enlightened business leaders or governments. We have to engage people. They have ideas. We have to give them the means to translate their ideas into action.”

— World Economic Forum Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab.

How can you get involved?

We invite visionary leaders, organizations, businesses, governments and philanthropists to join UpLink in driving the entrepreneur revolution. Through UpLink, we are accelerating progress on the SDGs by sourcing and scaling innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing issues, raising awareness for key sustainability issues and unlocking funding opportunities.

Qatar Foundation and Rolls-Royce sign strategic partnership

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Qatar Foundation is a non-profit organization made up of more than 50 entities working in education, research, and community development. It is a state-led organization in Qatar, founded in 1995 by then emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and his second wife Moza bint Nasser. Qatar Foundation (QF), chaired by Moza bint Nasser, has spearheaded Qatar’s endeavours to establish itself as a leader in education, science, and cultural development on both a regional and global scale. It is within these prerogatives that Qatar Foundation and Rolls-Royce sign strategic partnership.


Qatar Foundation and Rolls-Royce sign strategic partnership

Rolls-Royce and Qatar Foundation will enter into a long-term partnership to create a global centre for climate technology innovation.

As partners, Rolls-Royce and Qatar Foundation will develop two world-class campuses dedicated to launching, investing in and growing businesses that can accelerate the global energy transition.

The centre will help entrepreneurs create and grow new climate technology businesses, aided by academic leadership, funds for R&D and early-stage venture capital investment. Businesses will be able to use infrastructure on the campuses to test, prove and scale their technologies, enabling them to have a rapid impact. This integrated approach is a global first in climate technology.

Qatar Foundation and Rolls-Royce are ambitious in their vision for the centre and for the scale of investment and technological change it will create. To address the challenge of climate change, the world needs tangible, technology-driven businesses at a scale that matters. This centre is intended to create and scale-up businesses worth multi-billions of pounds.

Rolls-Royce and Qatar Foundation will work in partnership to build the campuses, generating up to 1,000 jobs in the centres, and at least 10,000 within the related start-up companies and broader ecosystem by 2040. A substantial investment pool will be created for venture funding at the scale needed to create global climate tech businesses with real impact and in anticipation that third-party investors will co-invest, with a target to grow up to 5 unicorns by 2030, and up to 20 by 2040, driving significant economic value for investment partners. (A “unicorn” is a privately held start-up company valued at over $1 billion).

This partnership will position Qatar among the top 5 countries globally investing in clean energy RD&D (in terms of spend per GDP) and as a pioneer within Small Advanced Economies. It is also in line with Qatar’s vision to further promote the state’s economic diversification, including legislative and commercial incentives to develop projects that preserve the environment and counter climate change.

Qatar Foundation will serve as the operating partner for Qatar, working with Rolls-Royce to establish and operate the innovation campuses by drawing on its expertise and experience in large-scale research and education collaborations. The project is forecast to generate as many as 1,300 new high-value jobs in Qatar by 2040, as well as new investment opportunities for Qatari businesses and investors via dedicated funding vehicles. 

This global centre will ensure innovation has a clear and practical route to market, whilst bringing together the key stakeholders and capabilities to create a fundamentally innovative way of developing climate tech businesses. The network will launch virtually in 2022, with campuses launching as early as 2023.

Warren East, Chief Executive, Rolls-Royce, said: “Rolls-Royce has pioneered power since its inception and we are already playing a key role in accelerating the energy transition in some of the hardest sectors to decarbonise. For us, the transition to net zero is both a societal imperative and an excellent commercial opportunity. This partnership with Qatar Foundation will enable us to accelerate progress in clean energy, including by allowing us to fully take advantage of nascent technologies that could have a significant impact on tackling climate change.”

Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, vice chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation, said: “Today’s most pressing problems: climate change, soil restoration, water resources, animal welfare and human health are all inextricably linked. We stand ready to work together with our partners Rolls-Royce in developing innovative solutions and clean energy technologies. The expansion of Education City’s research ecosystem will inevitably further Qatar Foundation’s mission to pave the way to a better future.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “This partnership fuses the outstanding British engineering of Rolls-Royce with the vision of the Qatar Foundation, confirming the UK’s position as a science superpower and hub for investment. This will not only strengthen ties between our two countries but will help facilitate the climate-tech innovations we need to tackle climate change headfirst, delivering green jobs and green growth.”

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Arab University Rankings 2021: results announced

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Universities in the MENA region were assessed and ranked by THE World University Ranking under the title of Arab University Rankings 2021: results announced.  So here are those results.

The picture above is for illustration and is of THE of 12 February 2021.

Arab University Rankings 2021: results announced

Saudi Arabia dominates top of new regional table, while Egypt is most-represented nation overall

July 27, 2021

Jeddah Saudi Arabia – Source: iStock

Browse the full results of the Arab University Rankings 2021


Universities in Saudi Arabia lead a new Times Higher Education ranking focused on the Arab region.

King Abdulaziz University tops the inaugural THE Arab University Rankings, while four other institutions in the county also feature in the top 10: King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) (third), Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University (fourth), King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (fifth) and King Saud University (eighth).

Overall, 22 Saudi Arabian universities are ranked in the list. On average, the country performs particularly well on metrics relating to the share of international staff, international co-authorship and institutional income.

The United Arab Emirates is the only other nation with more than one institution in the top 10; Khalifa University and United Arab Emirates University are sixth and seventh respectively, with both institutions receiving high scores for metrics relating to the research environment.

Qatar has only one representative in the table – the flagship Qatar University – but it claims second place thanks to strong scores across the board.

Meanwhile, Egypt is the most-represented nation, with 31 institutions, led by Zewail City of Science and Technology in 10th place. Five other Egyptian universities feature in the top 20. The country receives a strong average score for citation impact and teaching reputation, the latter of which is based on the first THE survey exclusively dedicated to published academics in the Arab region. Egypt is also home to the most leading large universities in the region; there are 20 ranked institutions with more than 50,000 students and all of the top 10 are in the North African country.

Lebanon is the only other country to feature in the top 10, with the American University of Beirut claiming ninth place.


Arab University Rankings 2021: top 10

Rank 2021 Position in World University Rankings 2021 Institution Country
1 201–250 King Abdulaziz University Saudi Arabia
2 301–350 Qatar University Qatar
3 NR King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Saudi Arabia
4 NR Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University Saudi Arabia
5 501–600 King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals Saudi Arabia
6 351–400 Khalifa University United Arab Emirates
7 301–350 United Arab Emirates University United Arab Emirates
8 401–500 King Saud University Saudi Arabia
9 301–350 American University of Beirut Lebanon
10 NR Zewail City of Science and Technology Egypt

NR = not ranked 


Overall, 125 institutions from 14 countries are ranked in the inaugural Arab University Rankings, with the vast majority (100) being public institutions. A further 30 institutions are listed with “reporter” status, meaning that they provided data but did not meet our eligibility criteria to receive a rank. The top-ranked private university is Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University in fourth place.

The ranking is THE’s most comprehensive assessment of higher education in the Arab region to date. Fifty-five of the ranked institutions, including Bahrain and Palestine’s two representatives each, did not feature in the latest World University Rankings due to its stricter eligibility criteria. Iraq is the third most-represented nation in the Arab ranking, with 16 ranked institutions (and a further 15 with reporter status), but only two of these were included in the global table.

The methodology behind the Arab ranking is based on the same framework as the global table, but some adjustments have been made and some new metrics have been included to reflect the features and missions of universities in the Arab region. There are regional measures on reputation and collaboration as well as metrics related to social impact.

Nasser Al-Aqeeli, Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister for research and innovation, said that the country’s strong performance in the ranking was partly driven by recent policies to strengthen research and innovation in universities.

The Ministry of Education has worked with a number of public and private sectors to establish 12 national research and innovation priority areas “to help universities focus their research on what is needed in Saudi Arabia”, Professor Al-Aqeeli said. It has also worked directly with institutions on their own research strategies based on their strengths and what is needed in their local cities and regions.

Meanwhile, last year the ministry initiated a new national funding system for universities. The “institutional fund program” gives a pot of research funding to each university and the university administration manages how this is distributed to its academics, instead of scholars submitting grant proposals to the ministry, to help speed up the process. As a result, Saudi Arabia was ranked first in the Arab world and 14th globally for the number of coronavirus-related research publications, Professor Al-Aqeeli said.

Habib Fardoun, director of the Observatory Center for Academic Standards and Excellence at King Abdulaziz University, said that the institution’s research projects are all done in collaboration with international, regional and national partners to acheive the strongest results, while over the last 10 years the university has worked on improving the quality of its education.

On the Arab ranking more broadly, Dr Fardoun said the methodology is “aligned with the Arab countries’ strategies”, which will enable governments to measure the outputs of their universities and to give institutions more support in shaping and fulfilling these strategies.

Phil Baty, chief knowledge officer at THE, said that universities in the Arab world have achieved “very strong progress” in recent years in the World University Rankings but “the increased presence of Arabic institutions in the global ranking does not do full justice to the rich diversity of the sector, and does not fully reflect the range of activities and missions at the regional level, or the priorities of more regionally focused institutions”.

“So it is very exciting that this new, bespoke ranking for the Arab region allows us to offer a more nuanced, regional context, allowing many more institutions in the region to benchmark themselves against a range of relevant performance indicators and deploy THE’s trusted data to support their missions and their development,” he said.


Countries represented in the Arab University Rankings 2021

ellie.bothwell@timeshighereducation.com 

Turkish refugee academics ‘facing rights violations abroad’

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Ellie Bothwell on how Turkish refugee academics ‘facing rights violations abroad’ in the Times Higher Education reports that a Study finds dismissed supporters of Academics for Peace struggling to gain residence permits, find work and travel. Here is the story of

Turkish refugee academics ‘facing rights violations abroad’

5 January 2021

Kurdish community protestors in Germany – Source: Getty

Turkish scholars who have had to leave the country are still subject to significant human rights violations from both the regime of their home nation and their new environment, according to a report.

The study from the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT) is based on interviews with nine Turkish academics who are now living in Germany and France after signing a 2016 Academics for Peace petition that criticised military action in Kurdish regions of the country. They subsequently lost their jobs and were banned from working in the public sector in Turkey.

The research, Violations of Rights Experienced by Dismissed Academics Living Abroad, finds that these scholars are still suffering almost five years later and that the human rights violations they had suffered in Turkey have “acquired a cross-border dimension”.

In some cases, consulates refused to issue academics with new passports because of their dismissal, and they were then unable to apply for a residence permit and became undocumented, affecting their ability to find accommodation and work. Some academics have not been able to travel outside their city of residence for more than four years because of the differing practices regarding residence permits in their new countries or states.

Scholars also spoke about how their treatment had affected their academic work and said that they were particularly afraid of being targeted in classes with large numbers of students from Turkey. Some academics said they had had to stop lecturing because students had complained to consulates that their course content or discussions in lectures amounted to “terrorist propaganda”.

The interviewees highlighted how the stigmatisation of civil servants dismissed in the wake of the 2016 coup attempt was widespread not only in Turkey but also among people from Turkey living abroad. Some scholars said that they were forced to make an effort to conceal their dismissal and had been subjected to threats by neighbours and shopkeepers.

The report adds that the “impact of multiple crises and violations has become far more distressing with the disrupting repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

“Academics are caught in a cycle of uncertainty due to the difficulty of obtaining residence permits based on employment in their country of residence. The precariousness and deprivation, which is experienced by dismissed academics and their relatives living in Turkey, has also severely affected those living abroad,” it says.

Lülüfer Körükmez, a researcher at the HRFT and co-author of the report, said that the experiences of dismissed Turkish academics living abroad was “a very under-researched, under-observed and under-reported area”.

“People think that when you leave the country then you are OK. But it is not OK because they still have cultural and political connections with the country and they face violations of rights,” she said.

Mehmet Ugur, professor of economics and institutions at the University of Greenwich and a member of Academics for Peace, said that the HRFT report “should put to shame European governments and international organisations for failing to challenge the Turkish government’s authoritarian and warmongering drive that is still costing lives not only in Turkey but also in the region”.

ellie.bothwell@timeshighereducation.com

Twitter: @elliebothwell