Telecommuting can help solve environmental problems and develop smart cities

To stop the COVID-19 pandemic, most activities in various countries have been suspended, people have been visiting stores less often, the number of entertainment activities, travel and especially flights have decreased. Many people around the world were working or studying from home. Researchers immediately began looking for ways to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but the situation raised another question: how will reduced human activity affect our environment?

“Many energy and environmental benefits come from working remotely. These are mainly related to the elimination of the need to travel to the main premises of the organization or the reduction of the distance necessary to go to the coworking space”, explains Dr Paris Fokaides, researcher in head at the faculty of civil engineering and architecture KTU.

The main reason for the change is the cancellation of the trip

The study examined the role of remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on sustainability in the context of smart cities.

“We used as a case study the work habits of a university staff, where mixed scenarios of home office – coworking and office work were developed with the use of location-allocation modeling. Our study has introduced the key elements of remote working and smart cities and the intersections between them,” says Dr. Fokaides.

Paris Fokaides

© KTU archyvo nuotr.

The novelty of the scientists’ approach stems from the establishment of impact indicators that numerically demonstrate the potential of remote work models to help save fuel and carbon dioxide (CO2) resources and reduce the emission of other pollutants. The study analyzed changes in energy consumption patterns that emerged amid the COVID-19 pandemic, where the largest percentage of the workforce shifted to working from home. The well-established GIS tool was used to map employee locations.

According to Dr Fokaides, apart from the benefits of using less transport, which includes less fuel consumption and lower emissions of CO2 and other air pollutants, one of the most profound changes that has been observed during locking, was the power consumption patterns. “The majority of organizations during this period went out of business, immediately reducing energy demand and drastically changing energy consumption patterns from what was hitherto known to be the typical and typical case. status quo.”

The KTU researcher adds that remote working includes other direct and indirect environmental impacts, such as reduced noise pollution, reduced land requirements for road networks and infrastructure, reduced traffic congestion and savings in energy and material resources through less use of paper and plastic.

Enables faster development of smart cities

According to scientists, telework can make a significant contribution to the development of smart cities, in particular by reducing the need for transport.

“The transport sector is a major key player for the realization of smart cities with objectives set to reduce congestion, accidents and air pollution in European cities, remote working can contribute significantly to the development of a model of sustainable urban mobility”, says Dr Fokaides. .
In a smart city, digital and telecommunications technologies are used to make traditional networks and services more efficient for the benefit of its inhabitants and businesses. According to Dr Fokaides, this means using smart urban transport networks, improved water supply as well as waste disposal facilities and energy-efficient smart buildings, all of which save energy and waste. material resources and minimize carbon emissions.

“Smart cities aim to improve the quality of life of its citizens, as well as to strengthen the economy through the promotion of sustainable urban mobility and the increased use of clean and energy-efficient vehicles”, underlines the KTU researcher.

The researchers point out that the important aspects for the development of smart cities are the Internet of Services (IoS) and the Internet of Energy (IoE), which determine how natural resources and networks, including electricity, gas, transport, water, utilities, data, buildings, must be managed and used correctly.

“The up-to-date, real-time information and data that can be collected and transferred using CPS systems ensures the implementation of quick and effective actions that will keep city operations stable and secure, while resource savings are achieved and carbon emissions are minimized,” says Dr. Fokaides.

According to him, the long-term consequences of the pandemic will trigger more permanent changes related to the digitalization of work and other daily activities and will consequently lead to a reduction in mobility needs and overall fossil energy consumption.

The study described above was published in the prestigious scientific journal Energy Sources, Part A: Recovery, Utilization, and Environmental Effects and has already generated over 13,000 views.

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