Just another click in the wall? NTT DATA's sustainability initiatives at The Open | NTT DATA

Fri, 01 September 2023

Just another click in the wall? NTT DATA's sustainability initiatives at The Open

NTT DATA's famous Data Wall at The 151st Open featured sustainability information for the first time this year. It's one part of The R&A's Greenlinks programme to stage the Championship in a sustainable manner – but addresses a key part of the sustainability challenge for NTT DATA and our clients: the impact of free choices by individuals.



As a global technology services provider, we not only help businesses develop effective IT solutions but our commitment is to develop a harmonious and sustainable society. We take steps towards that high ambition by leveraging our expertise in technology and empowering clients to progress their own sustainability goals. One example of this focus was seen at The Open this year – golf's original Championship run by The R&A, of which NTT DATA is the official IT Provider.

We took our patronage of the major championship to the next level this year through improved data insights via our ShotView technology, which was delivered to fans all over the world. Moreover, the crowds on site were also provided with sustainability insights via The NTT DATA Wall in the Spectator Village for the first time. I went to Hoylake to see the work that The R&A was undertaking and to collaborate with Cardiff University on its impactful research around sustainable sporting events.


NTT DATA's initiative at The Open

The NTT DATA Wall has been part of our sponsorship of The Open Championship since 2014 and provides spectators with a front-row seat to the action through real-time broadcasts from all around the venue alongside insightful statistics and data visualisations of the play. With a single click we were able to display sustainability measures that involved spectators - combining the performance of the players with that of those watching them! Data included low carbon transport use, low carbon meals served and use of water refill stations, and corresponding reduction in the need for single use plastic bottles (although we weren't short of water on the final two days as there was plenty of it falling from the sky!)

The final stats from the event are fantastic to see:

  • 21,128 low carbon (0.1-0.5kg CO2e) meals were served from The Open Table
  • 43,983 litres of water were dispensed using refillable water stations
  • This led to 87,966 plastic bottles avoided (500ml plastic bottles)
  • 441 attendees cycled to The Open
  • 74,346 attendees travelled to The Open by train

A separate Sustainable Golf Hub showcased initiatives in The Open's Greenlinks sustainability programme, sustainable agronomy and the biodiversity supported by golf courses around the UK and gave spectators the option of making their own personal sustainability pledge. Naturally I had to take part by offering my own pledge – it's high time the Wilson household was powered by solar energy.



Carbon footprint of sporting events

NTT DATA already has expertise in calculating the emissions of sporting events – e.g. MotoGP. We know from this work that logistics and travel for those employed at sporting events are a big part of their carbon footprint and putting data on a spectator display doesn't change that. The Open utilises solar panels and sustainability sourced biofuel to generate power, so the Data Wall is sustainably powered, and there is a gradual electrification of the vehicle fleet. The R&A's Greenlinks programme for sustainability at the Championship is growing year on year, continually working to reduce impact, with low carbon being one of the priorities.

However, spectators also create a carbon footprint – in the case of The Open, spectator travel is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. It's encouraging to see The R&A's focus on sustainability at The Open and promotion of lower carbon travel options for fans such as public transport and cycling. The Data Wall and Pledge Wall initiatives have the objective of driving engagement, which is essential because part of running a more sustainable Championship comes down to spectator choices around travel (and also catering). We see this in NTT DATA's customers too – it's a battle for the hearts and minds of consumers and employees (one which has recently hit the news headlines in the UK because of public disquiet with London's new Ultra Low Emission Zone).


Sports events as agents for change

This hearts and minds focus also features in a wider research project we're supporting, entitled 'Sports Events as Agents of Change'. The multi-year collaborative project with Cardiff University and The R&A is assessing the impact of sport events in driving sustainable behaviour change by using innovative digital and visual communications to encourage fans to make sustainable choices. The research focus means we can start to gauge whether the messages displayed this year were 'just another click in the wall' or actually helped raise awareness. We're also interested to see whether making more sustainable choices at the Championship translates into making those same choices in everyday life. In future, major events may be required to take a more active role in this area.



IT solutions and individual choices

This kind of impactful research is a good example of the outworking of our global mission - we are not saying this is all on the individual or the consumer but that their choices are an important part of the story.

I'm privileged to see both sides of this with an internal CSO role but also actively working with our NTT DATA customers on their sustainability challenges. Let's take two NTT DATA initiatives: we're working with our top suppliers to encourage them to align to our own Net Zero goals, but at the same time we're consolidating office accommodation. The latter has more of an impact on our staff: we need to start shaping use of offices around the available capacity to avoid peaks and troughs of demand and consequential wasted energy.

With our customers we have a two-part approach: we are working hard to deliver less carbon-intensive software solutions, supported by our membership of the Green Software Foundation – but our clients also need individuals to make changes. Some of our solutions are specifically aimed at enabling change in the wider economy - the 'handprint' of IT as the Green Software Foundation calls it. By way of example, we have recently rolled out a farmer portal for an agritech client. One objective is simply emissions-related data gathering for the wider food supply chain, but another is to alert farmers - who are often small businesses without the benefit of R&D teams - to innovations that can cut the emissions of their farms. This project has other 'harmonious society' pay offs as well: as I was involved with the delivery, I read some of the heart-breaking user research from desperate farmers at the sharp end of emissions reduction targets but with nowhere to turn.

That project showed the power of digital engagement, and we look forward to bringing our combined strengths in user engagement and data-driven decision-making to more projects in sport, telco and the other sectors we support. Our work at The Open will continue to build on this theme in future years as part of our continued partnership with The R&A – starting with a click in the wall at this year's Championship, but increasing fan engagement on the topic of sustainability in the years to come.

Now I merely need to come good on my personal pledge (I just hope my solar installer can find enough energy on the dark side of the roof…).



NTT DATA helps develop effective IT solutions that not only drive business growth, but also contribute to building a prosperous and sustainable society. We help clients achieve their goals, both economically and environmentally. If you'd like to know how we can help you with your ambitions, please get in touch.


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