How to harness the power of data for a net-zero mobility world?

Imagine for a moment that someone asked you to measure your carbon footprint. How would you calculate this? Where would you start? 

Now imagine that same person asked you to determine the carbon footprint of an everyday errand like buying groceries or taking your children to school, factoring in your mode of transportation, the infrastructure used, the fuel consumed, and so forth — and to do so before you even left your home. A hard-to-answer question just became a harder-to-answer question. 

Despite playing a huge role in the lives of billions of people, transportation and transportation infrastructure is often oversimplified to the broad strokes basics: people, vehicles, and routes. 

Accordingly the conversation around sustainability in the transportation space has been oversimplified to intersect with those basics. We think of emissions, environmentalism, and sustainability in broad terms: what powers a given automobile and not necessarily what goes into making the roads that automobile travels on. 

If this is one side of the coin, smart mobility is the other. By leveraging digital technologies and data, we can create mobility ecosystems that are safer, cleaner, and more efficient for more people. 

Digital technology and the intelligent use of data will play a critical role in enabling mobility ecosystems to achieve our net-zero ambitions. EcoAct’s Plan for Zero lays out a strategic plan to help get us to net-zero by way of proactive analyses and interventions and including carbon footprinting, life cycle assessments, and Scope 3 emissions reporting.

From an organizational standpoint, reducing carbon emissions isn’t just good environmentalism — it’s good business. More than ever, consumers are more likely to take a business’s carbon footprint and organizational policy into consideration; more than ever, commercial performance is reliant on walking the talk when it comes to efforts towards sustainability. 

EcoAct helps in both these areas. Helping calculate organizational and product-specific carbon footprints compliant to respected protocols is job one. Job two is setting benchmarks and helping organizations recognize how their energy consumption and emissions can be reduced so that short- and long-term goals can be met, recalibrated, and then met again. 

Life-cycle assessments of products and materials within given supply chains can help businesses simultaneously lower emissions and save money — while at the same time embracing design and sourcing practices that keep them at the forefront of their industries. 

EcoAct’s Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) entail more than just studies, standards, and suggestions. They represent a fundamental and surgical tool to examine, with precision, how hotspots in a product or manufacturing lifecycle — from conception to disposal — can be smoothed out or otherwise optimized. Eliminating these hotspots invariably offers more than just a chance at leaner, greener, and more efficient business practice — it is a way to drive innovation. In helping organizations tweak their product life cycles, EcoAct LCAs can sculpt new lines of businesses by optimizing old practices.

Companies are increasingly under pressure from investors, legislation, peers and customers to measure and report their Scope 3 emissions — emissions created over the course of the supply chain. Within this context, EcoAct’s carbon footprinting and LCAs can help identify how Scope 3 emissions can be curtailed and, concomitantly, what processes in the existing supply chain need to be rethought.

The intelligent and efficient use of data underscores all of these initiatives. It is only by creating and optimizing systems that can use data in intelligent and targeted ways can we build a future that looks like the product of our ideals as well as our ideas.

EcoAct and Atos are only the beginning. Transparency between organizations, consortiums, and governments will have to occur in order to maximize the efficacy of these principles. A given organization’s understanding of their Scope 3 emissions directly relates to other organizations connected to that supply chain; interventions in one area of the supply chain necessarily create interventions elsewhere. Transportation infrastructure is almost by definition a multi-stakeholder world. It is only if and when those stakeholders accept that we can go further and build better by being data transparent that we can enact positive and proactive interventions that benefit all people everywhere.

There is a vision of the future where understanding the ecological footprint of one of the aforementioned errands will become easier. With the right investments and buy-ins, this kind of understanding will become commonplace and second nature; routes will be pre-planned to be as efficient as possible. Literal transportation infrastructure will be implemented based on its material resiliency and life cycle, and peripheral infrastructure will be adjusted to reflect this kind of sea change. 

Net-zero mobility is not only possible, it is imperative. Beating back the climate crisis will require literal and figurative investments, but perhaps most importantly, it will require thought and action right now. 

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