Climate savior M2M?

Only half the Statue of Liberty still peeps out of a landscape covered in snow and ice with the icebound skyline of New York in the background. Roland Emmerich’s vision of climate change is still a remote prospect, but the recently published report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows yet again that action is required.

If the world fails to switch to climate-friendly sources of energy in the next 15 years, global warming will become one of the most serious problems for future generations, the IPCC scientists are convinced. To be precise, if the temperature rises by more than two degrees Celsius compared with average pre-industrialization temperatures, the situation will, they say, be out of control. Oceans full of meltwater will flood coastlines and islands, storms and droughts will take lives, and the extra costs will weigh heavily on the economy.


Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, on the increase for years, are one of the main culprits. Possible solutions must kick in right here if they are to come to grips with this immense challenge. Take traffic, for example. Traffic now accounts for 13 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and in emerging Asian markets the percentage is much higher. Traffic in conurbations is an especial problem, with 30 percent of it being generated by motorists looking for somewhere to park. In cities like New York the figure is 45 percent. To ease the burden on urban traffic and to reduce both the fuel consumption and the CO2 emissions of motorists looking for somewhere to park, more and more cities around the world are relying on sensor-assisted parking guidance systems.

Motorists open an app, input their destination, and are guided to the next vacant parking bay. Parking bays are equipped with an M2M solution that uses ultrasonic sensors to check whether the space is free or occupied and relay this information to the city’s IT infrastructure.


Cut electricity costs by up to 70 percent


Cities also stand to benefit from potential savings in streetlighting. Streetlighting today accounts for around 40 percent of a city’s energy bills. The European Commission has already reacted with a regulation that requires streetlighting to be less expensive to run. As a consequence, cities in the European Union have to replace around 100 million streetlights by 2015. If they were to combine LED lighting with an M2M-based remote management solution, they could reduce their electricity bills by up to 70 percent and their maintenance costs by up to 10 percent. Individual streetlights also constitute a multifunctional and application-agnostic mesh network. Other SmartCity solutions that for instance check the air quality or use CCTV for purposes of environmental management can also use this network.


M2M has in terms of energy efficiency even more advantages. If, for example, building managers connect their Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, they can do more than maintain and configure them remotely. Algorithms will also monitor the system’s energy consumption constantly and alert the service team as soon as pre-defined threshold levels are exceeded. The technicians do not need to go out on callout as frequently to work on-site. If a machine needs only to be reconfigured, they can do that from their desks, and if a repair is required they know exactly which tools and spare parts they need. So they can dispense with unnecessary ballast on callout, reducing both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.


Improved route planning reduces fuel consumption


This is where fleet management solutions kick in. Vehicles are equipped with tracking boxes and fleet managers can see on a Web portal exactly where they are and are therefore able to improve routing and scheduling. In an emergency, for example, the fleet manager can deploy an employee who is in the vicinity of the location.


Transportation and logistics companies can also coordinate their orders so as to keep empty runs to a minimum. According to the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), the CO2 emissions from road haulage can be reduced with such telematics solutions by 800,000 tons per year – and that’s only for Germany.


On their own, these examples are but a drop in the ocean, but the key lies in connecting the individual solutions so that they interlock. To prevent language confusion in communication between traffic lights, cars, and parking lots, a common language – a kind of Esperanto of machines – is needed. At the same time data silos must be broken up in order to facilitate a comprehensive exchange of information.


Among all the benefits of connected technologies social innovations must not go unheeded. Future generations will not benefit if energy saved is offset by more intensive usage.


Tags: fleet management , Remote Equipment Management , Street Lighting Management , Mobility Management , Parking Mangement , Climate Change , Environmental Monitoring

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