A new report developed by BSR—and commissioned by CTIA- the Wireless Association—explores the impacts of wireless technology on the environment in the United States. To our surprise, we found several innovations occurring with wireless applications that not only reduce costs but also benefit the environment—and the applications are in just about every industry.
Take the transportation sector, for example, which is responsible for more than 40 percent of carbon emissions: Wireless technology applied to just one application, fleet management, has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by 36 million metric tons—the equivalent of removing 6 million passenger vehicles from the road. And within 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, thereby saving valuable resources and minimizing the harmful effects of chemicals. And they’re reducing costs.
Wireless technology is also an important enabler of the much-discussed smart grids, which have the potential to reduce carbon emissions by 360 million metric tons if fully adopted. Beyond business, consumers are embracing wireless technology too, and not just for phone calls and SMS. They are using wireless technology to find scarce parking spaces in San Francisco, which helps them save on expensive fuel and prevent the wear and tear of their vehicles.
The report 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 is replaced every year and an increase in the number of bird deaths caused by cell towers. Despite these negative environmental costs, we believe that the net impacts are positive for both the planet and the pocketbook.
In early 2012, BSR will deliver the second report in this two-part series. The second report will cover the socioeconomic impacts of wireless technology around the world. Initial research shows that wireless technology is helping tens of millions of people in developing countries (as well as in the United States) lead better lives.
We want to hear from you: What kind of potential impacts do you think wireless technology could have on the environment or on socioeconomic conditions?