Harnessing AI for Sustainable Transformation

Written by Caragh O’Caroll on 09/11/2023

As the world grapples with the urgent need for sustainable transformation, the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) holds both promise and challenges. While concerns have been raised about the carbon footprint associated with AI, it's essential to recognise that AI itself can play a pivotal role in driving sustainability efforts.

Digital Transformation

Harnessing AI for Sustainable Transformation

At Fujitsu, we believe that technology should be a force for good and so we explore new technologies through the lens of Fujitsu Uvance - solutions designed to help customers grow their businesses and solve societal issues in a sustainable way. By combining our many years of experience in advanced technologies with our expertise in diverse industries, we’re using data to connect disparate processes across multiple sectors. Activating cross-industry collaboration allows organisations to drive previously unimaginable approaches and insights.

When exploring AI from this perspective, we can begin to see how its ability to analyse vast amounts of data, optimise processes, and make intelligent decisions has the potential to drive sustainable transformation across various industries and sectors. At Fujitsu, we define the concept of ‘sustainable transformation’ as the practice of transforming businesses using digital innovation that helps bring about positive change in our environment, society and economies.

This isn’t in the future though. Fujitsu are already creating and deploying AI-driven solutions to meet diverse challenges. Such as the system for AI-detected safety incidents at the Nürburgring racetrack which allows for warnings to be immediately given to drivers – replacing flags and VHF radios. Another example of these AI powered solutions can be seen in a town called Barsbüttel where energy and sensor monitoring of classrooms showed suboptimal heating and CO2 levels far above the recommended limits so they could then be adjusted automatically. Similarly, with solutions employed in GKN Aerospace’s manufacturing, productivity increased by 50% and inspections were 60 times faster. The question for me is – what is your sustainability challenge and could an AI-based solution possibly be an answer?

Driving Smarter Cities

Delving into some large examples of AI-driven solutions, let’s look at Smarter Cities. As the world becomes increasingly urbanised, making our cities ‘smarter’ is crucial. A smart city is an urban area that uses advanced technologies and data-driven solutions to enhance the quality of life for its residents, improve operational efficiency, and address urban challenges. AI-driven technologies are at the forefront of making smart cities a reality and Fujitsu is proud to be making a difference in this space.

In 2021, the Canadian city of Montréal deployed Fujitsu’s predictive artificial intelligence to tackle the issue of harmful traffic congestion around its port. Fujitsu worked with partners in Montreal to develop a bespoke AI platform with the power to analyse CCTV footage and sensor data from around the port to predict immediate traffic flows and anticipate traffic congestion before it occurs. This visibility enabled the city to automatically adjust the synchronisation of its approximately 2,500 traffic lights to optimise traffic flows, reducing both journey times and carbon emissions. Since this has been installed, Montréal has reported a decrease in days with smog. However, more will need to be done as single-person cars increase post-pandemic.

More recently, Fujitsu announced the development of a new ‘digital rehearsal’ technology that can help make cities smarter by creating realistic simulations of the effects of traffic measures by reproducing people’s movements on a digital twin. The new technology, which combines the behavioural economics model Prospect Theory and AI, allows for simulations that can infer the behaviour of people in the real world, reproducing not only human biases such as our tendency to overestimate losses and underestimate potential gains but also included the situational factors that influence behaviour such as weather. By combining these models with digital twins – digital reproductions of physical objects and entities, sometimes entire cities – the new technology makes it possible for city planners and businesses to more accurately predict how changes in human behaviour interact with evolving conditions in the environment to better inform decision-making.

Fujitsu began trials of the new digital rehearsal technology in April, in cooperation with Beryl - a shared mobility company based in the UK. The goal is to bring business benefits to Beryl, while simultaneously reducing the damaging environmental and social effects of car use, informing transport policy, and positively contributing to the Isle of Wight’s wider economy. Cities have a whole range of challenges, such as infrastructure, housing, transport, sustainability, meeting the needs of businesses and citizens. I predict that as more cities start to articulate their challenges and we match them with appropriate AI-based solutions, we will be able to continue to optimise cities. It could be anything from water usage and distribution modelling, optimising multi-modal transport, matching of sites or housing stock to demand, image detection of optimal renewable energy locations – there are many possibilities. 

Harvesting The Future

Cities aren’t the only spaces where AI can drive sustainable transformation. Amidst a growing global population, ensuring food security in an environmentally sustainable manner is a growing international concern. At Fujitsu, we are using cutting-edge practices to successfully manage the global agricultural supply chain because we know it is an essential component of sustainable transformation.

A great example is the work we’ve been doing with biotechnology company Bayer to create a solution to increase the efficiency of crop seed production. Global supply chains are a key facet of this industry and this one in particular needed strengthening. Bayer’s motivation was clear and was well aligned with Fujitsu’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - Bayer Crop Science (hereafter “Bayer”) is working to solve the world's food crisis by providing products and services to establish a sustainable agricultural production system.
Seed production is a key factor in ensuring that food supply is stable. However, seed crop yields are hard to predict because of uncontrollable factors like weather, also locations can be challenging and costs are often volatile. Therefore, Bayer was searching for new technologies which could simulate their operations quickly and accurately – traditional computing wasn’t enough to optimise every variable.

The solution was a combination of Fujitsu’s Digital Annealer, Fujitsu’s quantum-inspired computing technology which was designed to solve combinatorial optimisation problems at high speed and matching that with AI/ML algorithms appropriate to Bayer’s needs.

Through using a co-creation approach, the parties agreed to prioritise the production scheduling challenges of 1,300 raw materials across 170 production facilities and 7 layers of the supply chain network. The results were amazing with AI-driven solutions and recommendations derived in just 300 seconds. Now Bayer has the ability to run the same type of problem hundreds of times a day allowing for high-frequency simulation of the production environment, reducing risk throughout the production network.

This is a great example of using AI to address many challenges – sustainable food production, sustainable manufacturing, optimised, resilient supply chains. Well done to all the team involved. I would hope that these types of stories provide inspiration to others to think about what other challenges can be addressed? Perhaps stocking levels can be further optimised, reducing waste? Or location strategies can be optimised to reduce transport needs?


Artificial Intelligence is not a silver bullet, but it undeniably plays a vital role in delivering sustainable transformation across various sectors. From climate change mitigation and adaptation to sustainable agriculture, conservation, and smart city development, AI's ability to analyse data and make intelligent decisions is driving positive change. However, it is essential to approach AI implementation with caution, considering ethical implications and ensuring that it aligns with sustainability goals.

To harness AI's full potential for sustainability, collaboration between governments, industries, and the scientific community is crucial. By leveraging AI's capabilities responsibly and ethically, we can pave the way for a more sustainable and prosperous future for generations to come. At Fujitsu, we believe in harnessing this powerful tool to create a world where environmental protection and economic development go hand in hand.

Caragh O’Caroll

Written by

Caragh O’Caroll

Head of Partner Business Solutions & Digital Transformation at Fujitsu Ireland

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