Software developers’ increasing interest in sustainability projects revealed by survey


Sustainability projects are an increasing area of focus for software developers, according to research commissioned by Ordnance Survey, with job satisfaction, higher pay, and unique problem-solving opportunities cited as key drivers.

The research, which canvassed the opinions of 500 developers who have worked on UK-focused sustainability projects, seems to find that developers are highly motivated by the opportunity to do something positive for the world and enjoy the technical challenges these projects present. Sustainability projects also offer the potential for higher remuneration, says the report.

The same research also highlights how UK efforts to reduce transport emissions – including a deadline of 2030, by which all new vehicles must be electric or hybrid models – has driven up the demand for developers who can support the rollout of EV infrastructure, the supporting energy infrastructure, and the digital solutions that will accelerate EV adoption.

Key findings include:

  • Over 90% of respondents said they enjoy working on sustainability projects because of the challenges involved and the motivation to do good
  • 82% of respondents reported that sustainability projects attract at least 5% higher remuneration, with British and Polish developers reporting at least 10% higher pay
  • 94% of developers bring their own ideas to the table for ways to develop sustainability projects, showing that they are highly engaged with the process
  • Main focus to date has been sustainable development – close to 70% of respondents have worked on projects in this area, followed by energy and power at 57%, natural resources at 51%, and transport and mobility at 49%
  • Some 66% of developers who worked on transport and mobility projects focused on EVs
    87% of respondents working on EV projects agreed that the UK’s Zero Emission Policy was a key driver of their EV project. Of these, 37% worked on EV infrastructure development projects, and 34% on EV projects related to user experience
    46% of developers working on sustainability projects use geospatial tools

Rollo Home, Head of Product at Ordnance Survey, said his group’s research and conversations with developers highlighted that “use cases for the environment and national infrastructure require trusted geospatial data”, an area where OS’s offerings were intended to help. “Through the OS Data Hub, developers can quickly access the data they need through APIs to build applications and embed richer contextual features in existing offerings.”

When looking for a geospatial data source, developers are less swayed by cost and more by what works: only 10% said that a source being free was the reason for their preference, while 40% said that they were looking for the best tool for the job.

Across the respondents, there seemed to be more developer projects focusing on expanding and building public EV charging infrastructure. A key focus for developers is to plan the siting of charging stations, keeping in mind the traffic routes, land usage and existing power grids. Another equally important effort goes into creating a modern, user-friendly information and communication platform for EV adopters, such as apps informing drivers of charging point status, location, connectivity and local amenities.

Rhoswen Hoath, Product Manager, Ordnance Survey says: “Historically, turning geospatial data into usable information required niche skills and expertise. From challenging file formats to geographical nomenclature, geospatial datasets were among the most difficult to use. As part of Ordnance Survey’s digital transformation, and the wider evolution of the technology landscape, organisations are increasingly able to access and share data in more user-friendly formats, such as through APIs. Today, developers without geospatial expertise can quickly spin up geospatial applications and features that vastly improve their offerings. For those working on sustainability projects, the value of trusted geospatial data cannot be overstated.”

About the research
Ordnance Survey commissioned a global survey of 500 developers who have worked on UK-focused sustainability projects to find out more about who they are, what kind of work they’re doing, how they work and where they see the demand for sustainability projects in the future. Of the 500 developers surveyed, 40% of respondents were based in the UK, with the remaining developers based in India, Hungary, Romania and Poland.

Access the research report “Sustainability: opportunities for software developers” here.