South Africa has taken a bold step by committing to a roadmap toward reducing carbon emissions at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. This is also in line with the King III report which focuses heavily on corporate governance and sustainability and is in line with calls by Sustainability SA looking to government to introduce a carbon credits system to encourage businesses to become more environmentally-friendly.
And ICT has a big role to play in reducing carbon emissions – not just from an industry perspective, but by providing technologies that other sectors can implement to assist in the process.
This is the view of Angus Hay, executive head: technology at Neotel, who says: “One of the critical issues we face as South Africa is our reliance on fossil fuel like coal for energy requirements. This means that as organisations the more we can reduce our energy consumption, the less pressure there will be on producing electricity.”
But being environmentally friendly and reducing carbon emissions go far beyond just energy consumption, he says.
Neotel recently launched the first public telepresence facility in Africa. Telepresence is a high-definition video conferencing facility, with directional audio and carefully planned ergonomics, which means it delivers a true-to-life experience for the user.
“It is so real that the user almost forgets that they’re speaking to a video screen,” says Hay. “This has several benefits to it, ranging from addressing sustainability issues to creating efficiencies within the organisation.”
From the perspective of reducing an organisation’s carbon footprint, the use of telepresence means less corporate travel is required.
“Executives no longer have to fly halfway around the world to conduct a meeting – they simply make use of TelePresence facilities in their respective locations and can conduct the meeting in real-time and literally face-to-face,” says Hay. “The impact of this is phenomenal – not only are carbon emissions reduced as less air travel is required, but it saves tremendous amounts of time and money.”
By using telepresence technologies, Hay believes organisations can cut out lengthy travel times, expensive airline travel tickets and even more so fuel consumption for travel purposes.