Sustainable transport: Green by design

Smarter, greener transportation

'Sustainability is now a focus for organisations around the world. In the transport sector, reducing and creating cleaner emissions has long been a topic of innovation, but we need to take a holistic approach, beyond the obvious.'

Emissions are one step, but it's not the only thing in transportation that can be made sustainable. By assessing every level of your transport operation, you can transform your organisation and progress towards sustainable, secure, efficient and green processes.

Designing from the ground-up

Crucial to working towards greener operations is a digital transformation. Whether it be a railway, air transport, intelligent transport system (ITS) or seaport, there is no doubt that technology will now underpin your organisation. However, simply using technology, does not mean your IT systems are innately efficient or, ultimately, green. With carbon impact in mind, you must reassess both your IT and OT systems, designing your green transport from the ground up.

When assessing the impact of transport we tend to think of direct emissions only, occurring when we're flying, travelling by train, or transporting goods, for example. But these aren't the only activities impacting our world. The indirect emission occurring when purchasing energy before, during, and after transport is deployed, all contribute to your operation's total carbon footprint. Though it can often be overlooked, efficient IT and OT systems, will aid you on your mission to reduce your carbon footprint throughout the transport's entire journey.

When we hear about the latest technology, it's tempting to deploy it ad-hoc; however, you must carefully evaluate your objectives. Typically, you cannot achieve them by adding the latest innovation to your existing systems and keeping them in silos. To truly work towards a greener future, you must consider your unique requirements at every moment of your operations, ensuring IT systems work in unison.

Creating opportunities for greener transport

When looking at IT systems across your transport organisation, consider the story of the hummingbird and the forest fire. While it may seem like a small change to make for one part, once carried out across the organisation, the environmental impact will be significant.

Behind every train, plane, or lorry, there is a team working in-office making it happen. From planning freight journey's to monitoring customer service channels on public services, IT is imperative to the efficient running of any transport operation.

If your operations are currently happening on-premise, migrating to the cloud could considerably reduce your current carbon footprint. Once you move your additional IT systems into the cloud, you will not only reduce the amount of hardware requiring energy, and in turn, consume less electricity but you will also enjoy a scalable and flexible solution in which you can easily add and remove technologies. Opting for a sustainable cloud provider will also ensure renewable energy sources power the data centre.

Out in the field, virtualisation technologies can also help you eliminate unnecessary carbon emissions. Some hardware may no longer be physically required, and by using virtual assets, you will become more agile and remove the emissions expended to develop the object - stopping the inevitable waste when it is no longer used.

On top of this, creating virtual twins for your boats, planes or trains will help save on maintenance costs, as well as predicting future usages and helping you test and innovate, all while saving the environment. In fact, by eliminating and repurposing wastage in manufacturing and maintenance, Accenture predicted that virtual twins will save 7.5 Gt of CO2e emissions from 2021 to 2030.

Just last year, National Highways announced the use of digital twins to predict the time and location of potholes and other maintenance issues on its road networks. If this approach was adopted across the transport sector, countless journey's and resource could be saved on routine maintenance checks.

The journey to green design

The journey to greener transportation may seem daunting when considering re-designing your operations from the ground up; however, it needn't be.

When you start making change, you will reduce your organisations digital pollution, improve waste management, and decrease your energy consumption across your entire value chain, taking the right steps to protect our future today, for tomorrow.

Roch Muraine leads the ALE global transportation business practice, responsible for the rail, road, air and sea sales. He has more than 20 years of global experience in IT, network and telecom marketing, and extensive involvement in field as well as operational activities.

Roch holds an engineering degree in Computer Science from ESI Paris, and a postgraduate Masters in Telecommunication from Institut Mines-Télécom.