March 5, 2017 blog

The Spark Salon: the role of technology in helping create a sustainable world

Four instances of how technology helped save or improve lives

The Spark Salon, a Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) initiative created to showcase innovative perspectives on the role of technology in helping create a sustainable world, marked its first event on the 20th October 2016. The inaugural session was titled: Hope or Despair – will technology help create a sustainable world?.

TCS wanted to examine the impact of technology in improving sustainability and resource management. To this end, at the first Spark Salon we invited along four expert speakers: Joesphine Goube, COO of Techfugees; Alexander Finlayson, GP and academic at Oxford University and founder of Medicine Africa; Abi Ramanan, co-founder of ImpactVision; and Martin Wright, a sustainability expert with over 25 years’ experience.

Technology is now central to almost everything we do and has the potential to change the world for the better. From reconnecting lost refugee children with their parents, to improving the healthcare in fragile states of Africa, and even reducing food waste through hyperspectral imaging, at this Spark Salon event we explored the power of technology to develop a sustainable world.

Technology – no longer an unnatural disruption

Martin Wright described it as a "punch the air in joy" moment when he was walking along a river in Bangladesh and heard the abrupt sound of a mobile phone ringtone. Why? Because solar power had given mobile connectivity and renewable energy to a village of over 250 people, allowing fisherman to sell more fish and locals to stop using harmful kerosene lamps. This is a great real-life demonstration of how technology offers a genuine resolution to issues and crises around the world.

To demonstrate this further, Josephine Goube recounted the story of a group of refugees saved by the coastguard in the Mediterranean after they were able to contact them using WhatsApp. What might seem like a simple thing to us saved more than forty lives and led those refugees to being rescued.

Alexander Finlayson also told us the story of Jibril Handuleh, who under the guidance of Medicine Africa using internet based training and support from hospitals in London, went from a volunteer to an advisor at the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the topic of mental health in his native Somaliland.

Through the use of a variety of technology and communication tools, all of these organisations and people were able to make a tangible impact on the lives of individuals, groups and even whole towns and villages.

Bringing it back home

As a company of more than 378,000 employees worldwide, TCS' infrastructure, facilities, and associates have a large impact on society and the environment, making this a hugely important issue. Our sustainability strategy is embedded in our internal processes and services offerings, our mantra is to grow sustainably and help our customers achieve sustainable growth.

More stories