How to make the world of location technology sustainable
The international sustainability and ecological group at HERE, Employees for Environmental Sustainability, wants to transform HERE at the micro and macro level.
A group of HERE employees concerned about the environment has joined forces to start a movement within the organization.
It all started when Dorothea Brockmann, a UX designer with a focus on HERE Navigation On-Demand, visited a climate change protest with designer colleagues. It got her thinking.
Dorothea (pictured) was surprised at how many members quickly joined EES from all over the world.
“I had always been interested in climate protection and attended protests to raise awareness of climate change, and I wondered if anyone at HERE shared my interest," she said.
There seemed to be a disconnect, where climate change was often discussed in society but people did not take action. Dorothea decided to take the plunge, and posted on Yammer looking for others who shared her concerns. These seemed even more important in a year where the effects of the climate crisis appeared to be ever-more visible, from wildfires to floods.
The response was overwhelming, but the next question was how to harness this motivation for good. “We decided to use our design thinking skills and figure out how – if this was to become some sort of movement within HERE – we could represent a lot of different voices," she said.
Colleagues from all over the world wanted to be a part of the group. The challenge would be figuring out if they all had different expectations and priorities, and how to align these for the best outcomes if so.
That was a year ago, and the Employees for Environmental Sustainability (EES) group now has a clear vision and set of goals.
The EES has presented a series of recommendations about how HERE can go green.
A global vision
From these early big ambitions, the EES has defined its aims and vision. While there are many ways HERE employees can preserve and protect the environment, these can broadly be divided into individual and communal actions, and micro- and macro-level practices.
"We aspire to provide regenerative and sustainable business solutions in real-time with location technology. By being carbon neutral, we aim to preserve the climate and environment and to have our partners do the same." – Vision for HERE, Employees for Environmental Sustainability
“This was important," Dorothea said. “It means everyone has the same vision, whether they want to do something local and fun or whether they are very business-orientated and want to do something more strategic."
A steering group is formed of some of the most committed members, and the EES now has an executive sponsor in Bart Sweerman, SVP Services Support at HERE.
The group has identified five ways they can bring their vision to life:
The five EES workstreams
Taking action on climate
What does all this mean for the way HERE designs its products and tools, and the way the company itself operates?
The EES held a series of events for World Environment Day recently, including hosting a speaker from SASB on green investment. It has also released a list of recommended actions for individuals, ranging from taking trains instead of planes to choosing ceramic dishes instead of disposable ones to save waste and reduce emissions.
There are also a number of things identified by the EES that HERE as a company can do to help protect the environment.
These include reducing the negative impact on the environment of every product from the start of product development, as is already the case with data privacy.
The EES also recommends partnering with pro-environment companies and organizations rather than customers who are “apathetic or antagonistic" towards the environment. Another step focuses on data centers, which are huge energy guzzlers. The tech industry accounts for 2-3% of global greenhouse gas emissions – and making sure that data centers use renewable energy and monitor consumption patterns can help to address this. But first on the list is continuing to raise awareness within the company itself.
“We want to continue increasing the reach of EES, as we are still a fairly new group within HERE and many people don't know yet that we exist," Dorothea said.
Reducing waste and pollution: HERE Mumbai
EES member Mulla Reshmabee worked with colleague Nitin Mithbavkar to encourage employees in Mumbai to reduce their waste and pollution. They approached this by doing everything possible to promote their campaign. “We made sure that people understand what we are trying to do and what the benefits of environmental sustainability are," Mulla said. They used internal tools such as WebEx and Workvivo to spread the word. Nevertheless, challenges remained.
“India is a very religious country," Mulla explained. “The religious practice in India plays a very crucial part in people's life choices. Anything that calls out the fact that these practices are harmful for our surroundings, our environment and our future, turns into a conflict of religious identity. I think this is one of the biggest challenges for EES in India. But I am very positive that we can bring about the change."
The experience has helped to improve awareness in the Mumbai offices, but Mulla does not intend to stop there. “In next year or two, I would like to see HERE become a carbon-neutral organization and serve as an example for other organizations to look up to."
More events are in the pipeline, including a hackathon later this year. The EES group also plans to develop green strategies along with HERE customers and build on existing local initiatives as offices everywhere start to open up again. HERE Mexico is a good example of such local schemes. Among the team's projects is a tree-planting initiative, as well as campaigns to reduce single-use plastic.
And while the climate crisis can make some feel despondent, Dorothea said the EES has made her optimistic for the future.
“There is a lot of energy within the workforce and a lot of things already in the making. There is so much potential," she said.
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