Data Science and Sustainability: Computing for Humanity

Data Science and Sustainability: Computing for Humanity

With the continuously increasing population and rapidly decreasing natural resources, there is a need to use optimization to create a balance between both. To cater this challenge, technology plays a significant role. General perception among the people is that science and technology leading to industrialization or globalization is responsible for the exploitation of nature. But can we solve this problem without using Science and Technology? – No.

I remember the days when JK Lakshmipat University, Jaipur, hosted a National Symposium on Geomatics for Digital India & Annual Conventions of ISG & ISRS in 2015, where I had an opportunity to meet with several scientists from ISRO, including the then Chairman-ISRO, Shri A. S. Kirankumar. They talked about how satellites are being used in improving human life. The data received from a number of satellites is huge and they need academic institutions to use this data for analysis and making it useful for society. ISRO then signed MoU with JKLU and marked the beginning of a project. Another incident comes to my memory, where the Union Finance Minister, Government of India, Shri Arun Jaitley was presenting budget in the parliament post-demonetization and he used the word ‘Data Mining’ in his speech and referred  to it as a potential tool to solve several income tax related issues.

The purpose of quoting above two incidents was to connect them with Data Science, which is a rapidly growing area in Science and Technology. Stanford University, USA has founded Stanford Data Science Initiative (SDSI) in 2014 and made efforts to develop a campus-wide Data Science ecosystem. Various computational techniques and tools that are being developed by researchers are in the areas of Education, Economics, Human Health, Linguistics, Nature and Sustainability, and Humanity. This clearly validates the contribution of Data Science in sustainability. Purukalpa Sankar, who founded SocialCops said, “The problem we wanted to solve was — use data to confront critical global challenges” and referring to one of the contributions in solving such a problems related to LPG connection in remote areas of India, she said “The ministry used our data intelligence platform to track and monitor over 30 million LPG connections under the flagship Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana”. The story of SocialCops is an inspiring example for youngsters who want to build their career in Data Science.

Higher Education Institutes of higher ranks around the world have launched various programs in Data Science. Few Institutes in India are also developing such programs. Looking into the potential contributions of Data Science in sustainability, which in the form of SDG is a focus area, JK Lakshmipat University, Jaipur has also initiated innovative courses in Data Sciences for students undergoing the B.Tech programme. The day has come when youngsters will make career in Data Science to solve sustainability challenges and to use their computing skills for Humanity.

Author

Dr. Umesh Gupta, Institute of Engineering & Technology

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