A report looking at the environmental opportunities and challenges of the use of wireless technology in the US has found that innovative wireless applications can reduce costs and benefit the environment. The study focused on the areas of transport, utilities, agriculture, and public services, but found environmental benefits in almost every industry.
By way of example, in the transportation sector, responsible for more than 40% of carbon emissions, wireless technology applied to fleet management alone has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by 36 million metric tons — the equivalent of removing six million passenger vehicles from the road. In the agriculture sector, soil-monitoring sensors are providing farmers with valuable information that helps them control the amount of water, fertilizer, and pesticides that they use, saving resources and minimising the use of chemicals. Wireless technology is also an important enabler of smart grids, which have the potential to reduce carbon emissions in the US by 360 million metric tons.
As well as businesses, consumers are also using wireless technology in ways that can benefit the environment. For instance, in San Francisco they are using wireless technology to find scarce parking spaces, which helps them save on fuel and prevent the wear and tear on their vehicles.
The report, available here, was commissioned by CTIA – The Wireless Association, the international body representing the wireless telecommunications industry. The work was done by BSR, a membership organisation focused on developing sustainable business strategies and solutions.
Well I think we already knew that wireless technology was an essential part of Green ICT. Back in 2008 the Smart 2020 report estimated the emissions savings that all of ICT could achieve would reach 15% of global emissions in 2020, five times more than the emissions from the entire ICT sector at that time. But this study is more specific in its approach and its nice to hear confirmation from a US-based source.
The report is pretty thorough in covering what wireless technology can achieve. It also looks at some of the negative impacts resulting from an increase in use of wireless technology, including the growing demand for wireless hardware that’s replaced every year (thanks Apple!) and an increase in the number of bird deaths caused by mobile phone towers.