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Can Smart Transportation Apps Curb Greenhouse Gases?

Mobile apps for traffic, public transportation and parking look to be a big contributor to cost savings and environmental gains.

Experts believe traffic, bus and parking applications will be the public sector’s key wireless contributions in helping reduce future environmental impacts, according to a report released Tuesday, Oct. 11.

A new report sponsored by CTIA—The Wireless Association estimates that transportation apps can contribute to the reduction of 1.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere each year.

The report, Wireless and the Environment: A Review of Opportunities and Challenges, examines the environmental impact of wireless technology in four areas: agriculture, energy, the public sector and transportation. In the government arena, the report finds the usage of smart traffic apps could result — if available on a wide scale — in a 20 percent savings on fuel consumption on urban roadways.

“Wireless technology can help improve the delivery of a wide variety of public services in a more sustainable and useful manner,” said Steve Largent, president and CEO of CTIA, in an e-mail to Government Technology. “For example, mobile communication in waste management is using real-time data to better optimize routing, fleet management and customer service, which translates into savings with fuel, time and money.”

“As local, state and federal governments continue to explore new ways to more efficiently serve their constituents, wireless products and services offer them a unique opportunity to do that while being more environmentally and fiscally responsible,” he added.

Authored by BSR, a business strategies consulting firm, the 71-page report uncovered a variety of other environmental savings, including:

  • reduction in fuel cost per truck by $3,600 and the elimination of 9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually due to better fleet management through wireless technology;
  • water savings from 11 to 50 percent from the wider use of precision agriculture through the data received from wireless technology; and
  • elimination of 360 million metric tons of carbon dioxide by national use of smart grids for the U.S. electricity and water infrastructure, which rely on wireless technology.
“Clearly wireless technology is having a profound and positive effect on the environment today and will become even more prominent in the future,” Largent said in a statement.



Miriam Jones is a former chief copy editor of Government Technology, Governing, Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines.