Environmental implications of wireless technologies: News delivery and business meetings

  • Toffel M
  • Horvath A
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Abstract

Wireless information technologies are providing new ways to communicate, and are one of several information and communication technologies touted as an opportunity to reduce society's overall environmental impacts. However, rigorous system-wide environmental impact comparisons of these technologies to the traditional applications they may replace have only recently been initiated, and the results have been mixed. In this paper, the environmental effects of two applications of wireless technologies are compared to those of conventional technologies for which they can substitute. First, reading newspaper content on a personal digital assistant (PDA) is compared to the traditional way of reading a newspaper. Second, wireless teleconferencing is compared to business travel. The results show that for both comparisons wireless technologies create lower environmental impacts. Compared to reading a newspaper, receiving the news on a PDA wirelessly results in the release of 32-140 times less C02, several orders of magnitude less NO, and SO.,, and the use of 26-67 times less water. Wireless teleconferencing results in 1-3 orders of magnitude lower C02, NOx, and S02 emissions than business travel. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

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Authors

  • Michael W. Toffel

  • Arpad Horvath

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