The report authored by BSR and sponsored by CTIA reveals big cost savings and efficiencies for the transportation, energy, agriculture, and government sectors.
An emerging wireless-enabled environment has the potential to drive billions of dollars in energy savings and reshape how American industry, agriculture, and the public sector approach sustainability, according to a report authored by BSR that was sponsored and released by CTIA, The Wireless Association. In one example cited in the report, wireless-enabled fleet management solutions would allow trucking and logistics companies to cut CO2 emissions by 36 million metric tons annually, the equivalent of removing 6 million passenger vehicles from U.S. roads.
“Wireless and the Environment: A Review of Opportunities and Challenges” details the environmental impact of wireless applications in four areas: transportation, energy, agriculture, and the public sector. These industries were selected for their leadership in using wireless technology to implement sustainability initiatives. In addition, these innovative industries demonstrate how wireless data contributes to the bottom line through improved inventory management and forecasting, as well as being more efficient users of labor, property, plant, and equipment.
“The report illustrates the transformative power wireless communications has on our personal and professional lives and on businesses seeking cost savings through sustainable practices,” said Steve Largent, President and CEO of CTIA. “This report is another piece of evidence for why the U.S. wireless industry needs more spectrum as more companies of all sizes continue to use mobile products and services to drive efficiencies that benefit their customers and the environment.”
“Wireless and the Environment” provides a variety of case studies, outlining innovative wireless-enabled sustainability initiatives underway at various organizations, including UPS, Duke Energy, Grape Networks, and the city of San Francisco. The report’s findings are organized by four key focus areas:
- Transport—Moving People and Goods: Wireless-enabled fleet management and telemetrics help trucking and logistics companies cut the number of empty or under-utilized trucks on the road. For instance, better fleet management through wireless technology could cut the amount of time that trucks idle, reducing fuel cost per truck by $3600 and eliminating 9 million metric tons of CO2 emissions annually.
- Utilities—Powering Our Future: Increasingly, wireless networks are serving as the nervous system of the U.S.’s smart electricity and water infrastructure, connecting users with generators (utilities) and distribution networks. Smart grids depend on information conveyed by wireless technology to enable timely action and promote lower energy use. If rolled out nationally, smart grids could eliminate 360 million metric tons of CO2, the equivalent of the emissions produced by 68 million passenger vehicles or the annual energy use of 30 million U.S. homes.
- Agriculture—Nourishing People: Wireless technology enables smarter agriculture practices by helping farmers understand natural forces so that they can adopt approaches that are more resourceful and thoughtful for the environment. For example, farmers are increasingly using precision agriculture to leverage newly available data thanks to wireless technology, so they achieve the right mix of land, fertilizers, pesticides, and water to boost crop and livestock production. Wider application of precision agriculture could reduce water use by 11–50%.
- Public Sector—Providing Services: The public relies on government for an array of services—from emergency response to trash collection—that have direct environmental impacts. Wireless can help the public sector reduce its impact in a number of these services, with smart traffic applications as one of the most promising. By deploying these applications, urban planners could lessen the environmental impact of public infrastructure and public service delivery. If available on a wider scale, smart traffic applications could cut fuel consumption on urban roadways by as much as 20% nationwide.
“Clearly, wireless technology is having a profound and positive effect on the environment today and will become even more prominent in the future,” said Largent.
“Thanks to wireless products and services, farmers conserve water and limit their use of fertilizers; utility management is improved to better meet consumer demand and usage; government can more efficiently provide services; and fleet managers improve their operations.”
“These examples of sustainability efforts made possible by wireless technology are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Vijay Kanal, Director of BSR’s Information and Communications Technology Practice, and project leader of this report. “With breakthroughs in machine-to-machine communications, sensors, and greater penetration of wireless broadband, BSR anticipates applications around these technologies will mushroom as commercial and public sector organizations continue to seek out efficiencies and cost savings that also benefit the environment. But the ICT industry needs to take a lead in helping other industries realize this potential, while also addressing some of the negative impacts.”
In early 2012, BSR will deliver the second report in the CTIA-commissioned series, which will cover the socio-economic impact of wireless technology in the developed and developing world.
To access the “Wireless and the Environment” report, visit the association’s Web site.
CTIA, The Wireless Association, is an international organization representing the wireless communications industry. Membership in the association includes wireless carriers and their suppliers, as well as providers and manufacturers of wireless data services and products. CTIA advocates on behalf of its members at all levels of government. The association also coordinates the industry’s voluntary best practices and initiatives, and sponsors the industry’s leading wireless tradeshows. CTIA was founded in 1984 and is based in Washington, DC.
A leader in corporate responsibility since 1992, BSR works with its global network of more than 250 member companies to develop sustainable business strategies and solutions through consulting, research, and cross-sector collaboration. With offices in Asia, Europe, and North America, BSR uses its expertise in the environment, human rights, economic development, and governance and accountability to guide global companies toward creating a just and sustainable world.