The greener side of GPS

Stephen Colwell
08 Nov 2008

Let's think about the planet for a second. In the turmoil of high gas prices and rising costs, GPS and location-based services continue to quietly provide us with a combination of savings and planet-regenerating benefits.

Fleet managers 'in the know' realize the importance of GPS. GPS-based logistics save hard dollars that go straight to the bottom line, and escalating fuel costs magnify the savings tremendously.

According to the Aberdeen Group, 'Companies who use MRM (mobile resource management) services have seen a 19.2% reduction in miles traveled since using the service. This factor results in less fuel consumption, which represents nearly 98% of the carbon dioxide emitted into the environment.'

Consumers who use a PND in their daily travels are beginning to see the same benefits, although they may not have understood the advantage when they bought their location device.
It is easy to take for granted the extensive savings that can be found in one technology device, yet, in comparison to others, GPS stands out. Green activists have hailed GPS for its many saving graces, including more efficient use of fossil fuels for commercial fleets, mass transit and in consumer navigation; reducing waste (by decreasing over-spread of fertilizers in farming, reducing use of paper products and providing better management of insecticide spraying and wastewater and landfill sites) and improving disaster management (monitoring of global sea-level conditions, hurricane and storm tracking, river- and stream-level monitoring, global weather forecasts, crustal deformation and earthquake monitoring, and pollution monitoring).

The list goes on and on. Each of the previous applications now takes fewer people, less bureaucracy and fewer natural resources than it did before the age of GPS.

Fleet management

GPS saves money for fleets in a variety of ways, according to Israel Ronn, general manager of Cellocator, the products division of Pointer Telocation, which provides automatic vehicle location systems for fleet management, car and driver safety, public safety, road-side assistance, vehicle security, and asset management. 'With tracking units equipped with sensors that send signals back to management headquarters at a consistent frequency, managers can measure a vehicle's performance, including optimal speed, tire air pressure, and others factors that affect the use of gasoline,' Ronn says.

Another factor is driving the most precise and beneficial routes, he adds. 'Since GPS tracking units allows managers to track every vehicle in their fleet at any given moment, they can study both driver behavior - whether he is driving safely, off-route, too fast or slow - and ensure that the most optimal behavior be insured for future travels.'

The rising problem of fuel theft can also be addressed through GPS tracking units that measure fuel levels, and can alarm the fleet manager accordingly. 'The last half-year especially had seen an increasing interest in fuel sensors in the market,' Ronn notes.

No device that relies upon the internet - as fleet management typically does for maps and data, and as do cellphones and differential correction services - or upon any form of computer server can claim to have a spotless green pedigree. There is growing concern about the environmental impact of internet use, at both consumers' PCs and industrial usage levels, consuming vast amounts of electricity (which equals energy) through the humongous data warehouses that house web servers.

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