Human interaction still the cornerstone of digital evolution


With another year passed, delivering many game-changing developments in the global energy and water space, I feel it is important to focus on what lies at the centre of it all: human-to-human interaction.

This article first appeared in the Global Smart Energy Elites 2019. Read the full digital magazine here or subscribe here to receive a print copy.

As a relative newcomer to the Smart Energy International brand, there is much for me to learn from the perspective of developed markets’ policies and the uptake of technological advancements; however, what comforts me most is the human-to-human motivator that resides at the core of all development. This is very special and it was interesting to see who stood out as role models for those respected and driven leaders who are recognised in this edition of The Global Smart Energy Elites. From Mount Everest pioneers, educators, spouses and managers, each has acted as a motivator in the lives of these leaders who are playing an active role in today’s smart energy evolution.

Taking a holistic approach to the cross-pollination of complementary sectors, these leaders and the featured projects’ decision makers are breaking down silos and implementing sustainable business practices. A buzzword easily bandied about today is sustainability, as we ask how sectors can contribute towards a more sustainable future. But how much clout does this concept hold if sectors aren’t working together? The whole transition is nothing without the people behind it, yet it is often hindered and swayed by political agendas and capitalism along with personal drivers. All the climate change discourse and agreements in place are not enough if the primary economic sectors – energy, water, agriculture, telecoms, education and transportation – don’t join forces and work together. The private sector is putting in a solid effort when it comes to driving these initiatives but public sector commitment, hindered by regulatory oversight and unwieldy organisational structures, remains steadfastly lagging behind.

A documentary that I recently watched exposed how commercial farming practices have wiped out communities – subsistence farmers no longer had the means to farm, losing their livelihoods. The lack of care and knowledge of soil and the use of pesticides and chemicals has had a significantly negative impact on communities as primary water sources have become heavily polluted. However, the will of these farmers has never waned, and they are slowly starting to change this pattern by introducing old farming models that preserve the land and its people. And this is what sparked my tone for this preface.

Decentralisation and renewable technologies, combined with digital and communication models, are already enabling society to shift towards this sustainable future. As you page through this book, you will see 14 innovative projects across the power and water sectors that have taken elements of sustainable living and put them into working models that are shaping the utility sectors of tomorrow. From solar television education, mobile potable water systems, energy efficiency and water efficiency awareness campaigns to protecting utility software assets, the energy sector is undergoing an exciting reform that we get to bear witness to.

Before you escape into the wonders of these projects, allow me to point out that this publication would not be what it is without the dedicated support of the Advisory Board members who selflessly gave their time to carefully review each nomination. The culmination of their experience and expertise supports the decision to feature the leaders and projects in this edition.

From myself and the Smart Energy International team, it gives us great pleasure to present the handbook to you and wish you every bit of enjoyment in reading it.

Cheers to a prosperous year ahead!

Ashley Theron-Ord | Senior Content Producer: Smart Energy International | Editor: Global Smart Energy Elites

This article first appeared in the Global Smart Energy Elites 2019. Read the full digital magazine here or subscribe here to receive a print copy.