You're probably all getting pretty tired of the debate raging on about the role of oil pipelines in our economy, but hopefully some info on clean tech has cut through all the noise. Behind the scenes, Canadian clean tech has been soldiering on, leveraging information technology, the Internet of Things (IoT), and even quantum computing to promote sustainability as modern tech drives us forward.
And with Canada's Environment Minister as one of 30 committed to the Paris Accord, there are plenty of greenfield opportunities to build business solutions around clean tech in Canada. Better yet: There's an important role for skilled IT people to play.
Clean tech = smarter buildings
Ah, the smart home. For most of us, a smarter home means greater convenience. Who doesn't want to get a heads up from your refrigerator when you're low on your favourite craft beer?
But business solutions for clean tech take smart buildings to the next level. We're talking major energy efficiency: Whether it's solar panels on the roof or a NEST thermostat, IT is making houses and commercial buildings better for the environment. And the feds are leading by example.
This past summer, Public Services and Procurement Canada completed the pilot phase of its Smart Buildings initiative, which started with federal buildings in the National Capital Region. The program's expansion will reach 100 buildings across the country throughout the next three years, collecting raw data and analyzing it in real time. It'll use that data to detect inefficient equipment use, including mechanical or electrical systems that waste energy. And that means building management will be able to fix problems right away.
All this intelligence gathering requires as much IT infrastructure as it does electrical wiring and pipes. Who would've thought your IT skills would be used alongside electricians and plumbers?
Smart buildings flock together
If you're going to make a building smarter, why not an entire community? That's exactly what Toronto is doing with its recently-announced Google tech-focused neighbourhood called Quayside on the waterfront—because nurturing the health of the environment means managing growth, and a smart community is just the way to do it.
The community is a collaboration between Sidewalk Labs, Alphabet Inc.'s (AKA Google's parent company) urban innovation group, and Waterfront Toronto. A smart community will of course emphasize new digital technology, but what else? Sustainability, affordability, mobility, and economic opportunity. The neighbourhood will be populated by adaptable buildings, and it'll be created using new construction methods to reduce costs. Bonus: It'll also encourage innovation around energy, waste, and other environmental challenges.
Forget neighbourhoods that need to weave in newer technologies to support smart buildings through historic, aging infrastructure. Quayside will be a fresh opportunity incorporate cutting-edge IT business solutions at the ground floor.
Quantum compute your water supply
Sometimes, computing that helps improve the environment is too powerful for even a Google-powered town. That's where quantum computing comes in: It can help architect the flow of its water and keep it clean.
We all know that computers and water don't exactly mix. But with Vancouver's D-Wave quantum computing technology, it's just the opposite. Water network optimization doesn't have to be just a hypothetical technology of the distant future—well, as long as it's combined with a conventional or high-performance computing system. Using EPANET (a public domain numerical software that simulates water movement and quality within pressurized pipe networks), we can model the flow of water in each pipe, the pressure at each node, the height of the water in each tank, chemical concentrations in the network, water age, source, tracing, and on and on.
The list seems endless, and it might as well be—quantum computing is no joke. It can help design an optimal water network by penalizing undesirable outcomes like low pressure or the presence of chemical contaminant levels, and it can also reward desirable outcomes, like low cost, low risk, and safety. What business wouldn't want that?
As with any advanced technology, quantum computing will become more affordable and widespread. Soon, it'll open up new opportunities for IT to play a role in the development of clean tech and environmentally-friendly business solutions.
Act on clean tech business solutions
Canada is grabbing attention and clients at home and abroad, becoming a strong leader in the development and advancement of clean technologies. The capital has everything it needs to spearhead Canada's sustainable tech efforts, especially because it's home to 10 percent more clean tech companies than any other province.
Ottawa's become a massive hub—not only through its concentration of federal research agencies and laboratories, but through its focus on information communications technology (ICT). Ottawa-based clean tech companies can leverage their proximity to the software and communication technology clusters to access ICT expertise and enhance their competitiveness around the world.
For ITDMs, this wave of groundbreaking tech can open new doors. If you're looking to contribute to clean tech business solutions that improve your homes and communities, the grass has never been greener.