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How ICT providers can promote green transport

and find business opportunities in the process

It is in the interests of providers of ICT products and services to encourage the development of company Travel Plans.

That is the principle behind a recent guide published by the UK Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR). The pivotal concept here is that of "transport substitution". As the guide says:

"Most areas of Green Transport Planning focus on encouraging people to change the way they travel. The more innovative Green Transport Plans also recognise that for many of the tasks in the modern workplace, travel can be replaced by working over electronic networks.

Increasingly, organisations and individuals are reaping the benefits of remote working, and many business trips can be replace by the use of advanced telecommunications".

Vendors of the new ICT already identify their products and services with the business benefits they bring. With the potential of the technologies for "travel substitution", ICT products and services can also be actively identified with the environmental benefits which will be of increasing concern to customers.

Focusing on bottom line issues

The guide is a welcome sign that the government recognises the contribution that ICT and flexible working can make to eliminating unnecessary travel.

And also welcome is the recognition that it is the bottom line and organisational self-interest that will frequently be the spur to reducing work-related travel.

By focusing on the business benefits there is likely to be a greater impetus to take action - and the results can have significant environmental spin-off benefits.

Computing and advanced telecommunications are revolutionising the way we work. Increasingly work is becoming location independent - in principle if not yet in practice. Modern voice and data networks allow individuals and organisations much more flexibility in organising where they work, and progressive firms are taking advantage of the new opportunities to increase productivity and reduce costs.

The pressures to do more for less cost are felt not only in the private sector. Public sector organisations feel the pressures of limited resources and the requirement to achieve "Best Value". Old models of work organisation are being questioned, and the new ICT open up new possibilities for more efficient working.

Increasing regulation on the horizon

In addition to these "bottom line" pressures, the government's new transport and environmental agendas will increasingly require organisations to incorporate the concept of "sustainability" into the way they work. 

We can all expect to see in due course:

  • local targets for reducing pollution

  • workplace parking charges

  • planning consents which require the development of a company Travel Plan

  • road-pricing 

  • ever rising fuel costs, and 

  • the "polluter pays" principle.

These will impact on all employers.

Reducing the need to travel is going to become increasingly important for individuals and employers in the coming years. And incorporating the effective use of ICT into Travel Plans is one way of combining increased efficiency and productivity with a social and environmental agenda.

Travel Plans: New Business Opportunities for Suppliers of ICT, General Information Report 80 from the Energy Efficiency Best Practice Programme can be obtained by calling the Environment and Energy Helpline 0800 585794 (please quote ref GIR 80).

A key plank of government policy has been to reduce the amount of car traffic on the roads. Reducing work-related travel forms a major part of that policy. So far voluntary, rather than coercive, approaches to achieving this are favoured.

The most common approach to reducing commute and in-work travel is for employers to develop an organisational "Travel Plan". The aim of Travel Plans is quite simple: to reduce the amount of (solo) car travel, and to promote alternative means of work-related mobility - public transport, cycling, walking, car share and flexible working. The challenge is to get the widest possible support and buy-in for implementing a Travel Plan.

The government's Energy Efficiency Best Practice Programme has recently launched a series of information guides to stimulate the uptake of Travel Plans. These new Guides are aimed at people who can play a key role in encouraging and supporting them. 

This guide focuses on how suppliers of IT and telecommunications products and services can encourage their customers to develop Travel Plans - and why it is in their interest to do so.


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