Navigating towards a new digital paradigm
The digital value compass Navigating towards a new digital paradigm
Using the value compass
The digital transformation is omnipresent and happening at an unforeseen speed. The opportunities for a digital society are endless but we must take steps to ensure we create a better version of the world as we know it. To make the necessary changes, we must act in time. We need to consider the values defining our digital future.
At Advice, we believe in a digital world based on environmental, human centric, and democratic values. The elements in the UN Sustainable Development and ESG-frameworks should be upheld in all activities, initiatives, and products. This is vital to the creation of an equal and sustainable digital future.
Based on the analysis, we have identified a set of nine values which emphasize the necessary concepts needed for developing a truly sustainable digital society. These values constitute a value compass. A compass which companies, organizations, politicians, and citizens can use to navigate towards a more sustainable digital future. A compass for developing new digital solutions, realising new regulation, and when choosing the next provider of your digital services.
Regeneration is the idea that human use of resources should contribute back to nature. Our future digital society must coexist with nature. We need new ways of organizing our activities, and this should be done in accordance with nature to a much higher degree. The aim should not be to minimise harm but to contribute positively to our natural environment. To ensure digitalization happens in a sustainable manner, non-linear design processes are needed. We must make the shift from linear processes towards regenerative design processes.
We have to rethink how we use resources in the digital realm. Digital services require large quantities of resources, and digital waste is a growing challenge. We create 50 million tonnes of digital waste a year , and without urgent action, this amount will be more than doubled in 2050. We have to consider how we can conserve resources in all areas of digitalization if we want to make the most of the opportunities the digital transition affords.
Digitalization causes 4% of the world’s annual CO2-emissions, and this number will only increase as our use of data rises in the future. One million new entities are connected to the internet every hour. The amount of data is growing at an exponential rate, putting enormous pressure on the energy sources used to sustain these digital activities, in data centres, in homes, at factories, and our office spaces. Fortunately we have the opportunity to design new digital products and services with climate positivity in mind.
Digital transparency means openly displaying the basis for programs, search engines, sources of information, and similar. Whether it is public, private, or commercial, we can only rely on digital information if we know who is behind it, and how it is formulated. And we can only trust data storage if we know who has access to it, who owns it, and how it is stored. Our interpersonal and digital relations are built on trust, and we are only able to build a trusting digital community if our digital transactions are transparent.
In a digital society, basic human rights must be protected. Freedom is one of the most basic human rights. However, freedoms of expression, access to information, privacy, and assembly can easily be suppressed by the use of digital technology. Caution is critical when opinions may be censored, nation states can control digital content, and personal data might be shared with third parties. Dilemmas between freedom of speech and the control of misinforming online voices can also risk jeopardising free democratic values.
The new digital society has the potential to unite people around the globe and build relations across cultures. However, we must navigate towards digital communities that foster solidarity rather than divide populations or other forms of social groups. As digital technology increasingly transcends the physical world, we risk losing our understanding of people who don’t share our views and values.
In order to be sustainable, digital society must be accessible to all. If certain information and services are not made available to all people regardless of disabilities, skills, education, and resources, the digital realm will be disastrously exclusive, leading to unintended social consequences. Digital technologies must be designed to be accessible to all individuals regardless of their visual, motor, or auditory disabilities as well as demographic differences.
Our well-being is impacted by digital technologies and digital services in regards to mental, physical, social, and emotional health. As individuals we must adopt practices in our interactions with digital technologies which protect our overall well-being. This is often easier said than done. However, new digital solutions should be increasingly wary of unintended consequences for their users, such as overconsumption, addiction, or similar.
Digital privacy refers to the protection of an individual's information when a person is using digital services. Privacy is essential in the digital world, because without it we will not be able to control our online identity and personal information. Companies need to ensure personal data is stored safely, and politicians must guide this directive. We often rely on providers of digital technology to protect our digital privacy, but as individuals we should pay attention to how to best protect our private information as well.
What can companies do?
- Start mapping your digital footprint and implement it in your ESG-reporting.
- Always consider the necessity of the content you create and send out – both internally and externally. Especially when it comes to picture- and video material.
- Use green hosting services for your website and digital services.
- Consider the necessity of replacing devices and acquiring new devices.
- Make sure not to use tracking data from clients/users combined from behaviour on various platforms.
- Allow users to control which interactions are and are not acceptable on social media.
- Design your digital products and services according to digital well-being, i.e. avoid information overload and limit scroll on your products, give your users more control of notifications.
- Ensure users understand your terms and conditions.
- Know your audience and ensure to avoid sending your users/audience irrelevant information.
What can policy makers do?
- Integrate digitalization in the national and local climate action plans.
- Develop and establish an environmental label for websites and services measuring the environmental footprint.
- Implement ”weight tax” on webpages, so the taxes are regulated on the basis of the environmental footprint.
- Instate a Minister for Digitalization who is responsible for ensuring rights and sustainability in the digital development.
- Revise the Digitalization Strategy and a) ensure all aspects of sustainability are addressed, and b) ensure the strategic goals are concretized and realized.
- Avoid unregulated data collection. Implement regulation on what data is used for, and how companies are allowed to track user behavior across platforms.
- Authorise an independent authority such as the Data Protection Agency to oversee the rights and sustainability issues related to the digital space.
- Apply new public funds for researching the correlation between health and digital media and ensure implementation of new initiatives.
- Speedy implementation and information on the Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA).
What can you do?
- Take an active and critical position on whether digital products and services benefit or complicates your life.
- Clean up your digital products and services according to positive impact.
- Take ownership of your own data.
- Consider the necessity of the digital product you want to buy in the first place.
- Start implementing digital cleaning sessions on your devices. Remove outdated files and pictures not being used.
- Install an ad blocker, which blocks commercials and noise when you are browsing.
- Preserve a critical attitude towards sources of information, both in relation to individuals and websites.
- Always consider whether you want to share your data with third parties.
Like this content?
Type your email and lets stay in touch