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Can Telepresence and Video Conferencing Pave the Way for a Greener and More Robust Economy?

globeinhandThe Climate Group estimates that by transforming the way people and businesses use technology, the United States can reduce CO2 emissions by 13% to 22% by 2020. The key though, according to a recent report, Networking the Green Economy: How Broadband and Related Technologies Can Build a Green Economic Future, is ubiquitous broadband access.

The report states that “with coordinated research, support and action from consumers, advocates and federal and state legislators, broadband and related communication technologies [such as telepresence and video conferencing] can pave the way for a greener and more robust economy.”

The current global economy has increased the need for business travel, resulting in negative environment impacts due to increased carbon emissions, and distributed social services have left some behind. However, recent technological advancements, such as video conferencing and telepresence, have become viable substitutes for many in-person interactions resulting in an overall reduction in greenhouse gasses and enormous savings on time and money. For instance, the report found:

  • Conducting virtual meetings to replace remote in person interactions could reduce 20-30 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2020, providing gross savings of $5-10 billion from reduced spending on fuel for airplanes.
  • Telehealth and distance learning programs supported by video conferencing are essential for expanding opportunities for both patients and students to access higher quality resources that might not be available without wasteful long-distance travel.
  • Telecommuting or flex work can potentially be a key contributor to a greener economy by creating substantial savings across the economy and the environment by helping businesses reduce, or more efficiently use, their office space, and allowing employees to save on gas and commuting time.

As broadband becomes more readily available and telepresence and video conferencing continue to advance, it is mind bending to imagine how visual communications will change the way we do everything. Thoughts?

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