A Data-Driven Approach To Sustainability

Angela Harvey

Technology changes the world. In my personal life. it’s changed the way I track my runs, plan meals, shop for my family, and even how I communicate with them. (“Hey, Google, broadcast: Get your shoes on NOW! We are LATE!” is commonly heard in my home.)

Sometimes when we think about how technology changes our lives, the views are dystopian. But I truly believe embracing technology can help us work towards a greater good. Opinions are vast and riddled with unconscious bias, so when tackling a problem, it’s best to deal in facts.

Recently we did just that with the SAP HANA service. SAP is a supporter of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and we took a data-driven approach to address Goals 2, Zero Hunger, and 5, Gender Equality.

We produced detailed articles on Zero Hunger and Gender Equality using numerous, disparate, multi-model data sources to test common assumptions about the causes of gender inequality and hunger.

Having the data in one place was critical. We were able to combine multi-model data (like spatial and graph text as well as relational data) and perform analytics on transactional data. Native data integration tools let us replicate the data into the in-memory database or virtualize it (to query the data without having to physically copy it). With the in-memory database, we created interactive applications to help drill into root causes of an issue.

Here is the application for Zero Hunger built on an in-memory database and cloud platform. While arable land is often considered to be a major factor for hunger, in our analysis we found that infrastructure (electricity, railways, and refrigeration) along with GDP are more impactful than environmental factors. This is positive, since funding and infrastructure can be influenced by the global community while natural resources cannot.

The application for Gender Equality disproves the notion that men are more highly educated, and instead shines a light on the fact that gender-specific jobs (where women comprise most of the workforce) often pay less. And it also drills into the fact that women contribute more to unpaid work like childcare.

By using data to get a clear assessment of the issues at hand, we can work towards a better solution, and continue the feedback cycle by placing KPIs around success and continually measuring progress.

To read our detailed findings on Zero Hunger and Gender Equality, simply follow the links. Or learn more about SAP HANA at sap.com/HANA.

This article originally appeared on the SAP HANA blog and is republished by permission.


Angela Harvey

About Angela Harvey

Angela Harvey is a senior director on the SAP HANA Product Marketing team. Having spent a number of years in product management for an SAP HANA-based application, she enjoys helping developers understand the power of using SAP HANA as a platform for application extension and development, particularly with SAP Cloud Platform. Angela holds a degree in Applied Physics from Simon Fraser University and has worked in high tech for 15 years. She has been at SAP for over 10 years (through the Business Objects acquisition).