- What can technology do to secure sustainable supply chains?
Smith: Above all, technology can increase transparency in geographically dispersed supply networks. This is an essential prerequisite to be able to quickly identify problem areas, ie the "non-compliance" with social and ecological standards, and initiate improvement measures. But while intelligent systems and sensors can help pinpoint potential problems in real time, solving the problems still requires human thought and understanding to understand the overall context and develop meaningful, sustainable solutions.
On which technology is the service of Prewave based? How does it work?
Smith: At Prewave, we specialize in the automated detection and prediction of sustainability risks in supply chains. The technology behind it is based on a combination of methods of machine learning and natural language processing, the so-called Natural Language Processing. I developed the first prototype for this technology in my dissertation at the Faculty of Computer Science at the Vienna University of Technology. At the heart of the technology is an algorithm that continually collects, analyzes, and extracts risk-related public social media news and news stories from local online newspapers in 36 different languages. These may be, for example, reports of accidents at work, air pollution or unethical working conditions at suppliers.
Where does the demand come from?
Smith: So far, the greatest demand has come from classic logistics and production companies with worldwide supply chains. However, our service is also of interest to insurance companies dealing with sustainability and reputational risks in supply chains, or to financial service providers who make "impact investments" and are therefore particularly interested in sustainability issues. In addition, we cooperate with trade unions and NGOs working to improve working conditions.
Many thanks for the interview!