Environmental Impact of Improved Telecommunications30.08.2021
We are working with vehicles and vehicles undoubtedly have a large environmental impact, but hardly anyone would think that emergency vehicles are not needed. The way we look at it is that working with vehicles not only gives us a more acute need to make sure we are contributing to the fight against climate change, but also a good opportunity to contribute.
With fire departments it is hard to completely avoid any driving, since the truck needs to get to the site of the emergency, and it always needs to be refurbished at the station between calls. Beneficial effects of better and more accurate navigation information, that we contribute towards, do exist but are somewhat marginal. However, in police and ambulance work, large amounts of driving can be avoided with telecommunications. How?
In ambulance work, the most impactful way of saving unnecessary driving is the ability to correctly assess which patients need hospital care and which are better off staying at home. This decision is made primarily by the paramedic on site, but a good telecommunications solution like ours enables paramedics to reach back to doctors and even specialist doctors for consultation. Now, of course, even if the patient stays at home, the ambulance still is at the patient and doesn’t magically just teleport back to the starting point. However, if the patient isn’t transported back to the hospital, the ambulance can often drive directly to the next emergency and more over the patient doesn’t need to eventually get back from the hospital to his home. This kind of a return trip is often done with a taxi.
When comparing this to police work, the effect is even greater. By skipping a trip back to the precinct, the police squad can continue their patrol work or drive directly to the next emergency. With some of our customers several trips each in the tens of kilometers in length are avoided per shift. This requires that the police officers can access basically any application also from their vehicle whether it is related to looking up information or updating records. In some countries enabling all such possibilities might even require changes to the law. Most of our police customers are gathering the benefits of this ability by having less vehicles out in the field than what would otherwise be needed. This saves not only the driven kilometers, but also everything starting from the vehicle manufacturing costs both in terms of money and the environment.
The are also things we must do in our own work at Goodmill even if we are a small team. The pandemic has pushed us towards online work, and we’ve skipped so many flights during the last year and a half. For example, our CEO estimates that he would’ve flown about fifty thousand kilometers that was all now avoided. We certainly aim to minimize flight also in the future. We see similar changes with daily travel to the office and to meetings with domestic customers with thousands of kilometers of less driving per month.
Smaller items include the fact that we provide as many of our solutions in pure software as possible. For example, our backend components are not appliances, but server software that runs on Linux. This software can be then run on the most efficient compute even sharing resources with other compute tasks.
Worth mentioning is also the possibility of licensing our router software to different hardware platforms, which has a positive environmental impact in cases where the use of the routing need is very volatile. Though this naturally hasn’t been the primary reason for the cases we’ve supplied so far. This is largely because we have also made our own hardware to be very energy efficient. For example, by relying 100% on passive cooling, we make sure that all the energy is spent on actual functionality. Also in the logistics process, we only use recycled materials such as cardboard for both packaging and shock protection. Although, we have not been able to avoid all plastics since some accessories arrive at us packaged in plastic and it doesn’t really help to replace these with cardboard.
Finally, the final big thing in our own operations is the durability of our products. Practically every single router we have provided has been obsoleted by technological development and never wear and tear. We really build these products to last and that naturally makes them more environmentally friendly as well. For example, our customers that use us in vehicles tend to move the used routers from old to new cars as the old ones are scrapped. Even technological obsoleting can often be avoided due to the modular nature of the product that enables adding new modems and networks as well as updating old ones. Thus, it is not uncommon to see our customers using our products more than seven years. Quite remarkable for vehicle-based electronics.