Burn Digital Carbon, not real Carbon: 5 Interactive CO2 Reduction Examples

Last Updated on October 30, 2023

Save money, time and risk – and save the planet. That is the opportunity with Interactive Digital Systems deployed well.

The CO2 issue is global problem #1. If you are not up to date with the science, we have hit 420ppm mark and rising. In the last 800,000 years, the highest CO2 was 300,000 years ago at 300ppm. The rise of CO2 is directly linked to industrialisation, using mainly fossil fuels. Now we want to keep being “modern” – we just want to do it with less (or maybe zero) carbon.

In case you don’t know, CO2 traps heat – like a greenhouse – so we are effectively cooking ourselves. As we broil, there will continue to be a cascading series of events that give rise to escalating non-linear greenhousing – like mass methane release (methane is much more greenhousie) in the Arctic. So we are in trouble, and we all need to act.

Digital planning reduces carbon emissions and environmental impact

The good news is we don’t need to become cave-persons, we can have a low carbon world and still surf LinkedIn with a caramel macchiato. We just need get the energy from smarter sources and work a whole lot smarter. There’s a bit of embeddedness and inertia in the global system though, if you hadn’t noticed. Systemic change has always been a bit tough, just look at the French Revolution in 1789. Hopefully it won’t come to be-headings this time.

Now, I am here to offer helpful tips so you can be a Digital Saviour whilst improving efficiency and engagement. Win-win-win. Triple bottom line. Everyone wants comfort and fun, we just want to do it without poaching ourselves.

I am suggesting, across a number of sectors where we have worked for 15 years, from rail to development assessment to military planning, that using ‘Digital Carbon’ – in this case Interactive Digital Technology – to solve a raft of problems is (approximately) a million to a trillion times less carbon intensive than doing it the analog way.

Some analysts have split hairs that using electricity and your phone or computer to do work (e.g. consume information) is more polluting than meditating under a tree, and maybe they are right. I don’t know many people who get paid for tree-meditating. In relative terms, when we are preventing flights, thousands of site visits, infrastructure reconstructions and other calamities – then “burning Digital Carbon” (i.e. interacting with digital worlds to simulate, educate and maybe even meditate with all the spare time you will win), is propelling us in the right direction. Meanwhile – recycle your old phone and get your electricity from renewables, please.

Briefings and Staff Engagement

Senior leaders in big organisations expend much effort, much ‘Personal Carbon’, to engage and align hundreds and thousands of staff. Often these staff are scattered in dozens of locations. This is never more true than during critical projects and major organisational changes. It is vitally important that the whole team deeply understand how they are working together, what their impact is, what the bigger picture is – and build trust that the leaders know what they are talking about.

The cost of mis-understandings and mis-communications and general confusion can be very high and will cause a whole lot more real carbon to be burnt, and maybe those Revolutionary be-headings. Smart leaders and managers know this. They want to engage.

Conventionally, leaders and managers spend enormous amounts of effort, time and carbon in one-to-many scenarios, personally engaging staff with exciting (not) power-point shows, drawings and explanations. Sadly, not all managers orate as well as Greta Thunberg. Some staff were sick that day, are pre-occupied worries at home, couldn’t quite hear from the back of the room, or just didn’t understand that topic but were too embarrassed to ask questions. It can be very exhausting as well as carbon intensive.

It can also be disappointing when staff don’t get engaged, don’t understand, make mistakes or maybe leave the organisation.

Interactive Digital Technology helps transform staff engagement, and our client’s lives and stress. These executives now expend much less real carbon running about all over the city-country-world. They burn Digital Carbon instead.

Using Interactive Digital Technology to simulate, explain and support has produced a significant uptick in engagement and comprehension in teams of many thousands. There is a concomitant reduction in errors and misunderstandings. Organisation and project learning has improved.

The interactive digital tools are often hosted on the clients’ server, or intranet, and so is accessed by the teams again and again. They really get to understand that particular point, playing that part over and over, and don’t get embarrassed by asking questions in front of their peers.

Some of these projects are hyper complex, multi-disciplinary and quanti-dimensional workflows. Now we have the admin clerk and the qualified technician all on the same page. Knowledge is transformed. The teams are happier, feel smarter, there’s improved staff retention and work is more fun! The staff love it and you see the click rate go through the digital roof. Each click is essentially the Digital Carbon, saving the real carbon, and all those errors and problems.

City Development Planning and Regulation

Clients of our well established Digital City Planning System have gloated how they, and their colleagues, win back a day a week – that’s 20%. No more site visits and a whole lot less running around to meetings and getting caught in obfuscation. Imagine: town planning staff being hyper productive. Good Digital Systems do this.

Clients of our Interactive City Planning System have gloated how they, and their colleagues, win back a day a week – that’s 20% – per person.

Not only did they not need to drive their car on average 30km per round trip to stand in the street in variable weather, and take photos – they couldn’t of course do complex interaction analyses from the ground level. Now they inspect to millimetre accuracy every view from any window, setback, utility across LiDAR point clouds, aerials, photomesh and imported BIM models. Don’t worry about the techie words – we have made it a simple, interactive, streamlined digital system that’s in many ways better than being there in the real world, because we can slice and dice reality, fly and dive underground.

The amount of paper and reports used in the Development Applications across all our Digital Planning clients has dramatically reduced – by up to 90%. This includes on the applicant and regulator side. Decision makers sit directly with the interactive digital technology for reviews with the now next-generation “digital planners”. No need for paper or even PDF reports. Less reports, more information, more productivity, less CO2.

Interactive digital planning with 3D technology is deeply embedded in smart town planning daily workflows. Our clients use Digital Carbon to save real carbon from all this driving about, site visits, meetings, paper and hot air.

Even better, all these town planners, from regional towns to the heart of our great cities – are all now doing sophisticated town planning and development analysis. They understand a wider array of impacts at street-scape and town-scape levels – ensuring better streets and cities as they have the upper hand. This means more walking and kids playing in the street, less cars and ultimately less reconstruction.

Rail Operations Management – Signalling Upgrades

Upgrading signals in the rail environment is no simple task. The environments are dangerous and operational. There are a diverse, often not hyper-modern, embedded stakeholders that need to be satisfied, and the results have to perfect.

In rail upgrades on busy metro railways we have built regulator-approved Interactive Digital Systems that improve the workflow and also let rail operators burn the Digital Carbon and reduce their real CO2 along the way.

Rail Signal Sighting, or Siting (it’s both really), conventionally required many staff and stakeholders halting the rail operations and ‘walking the site’ with physical apparatus to test signal positioning, whilst trying to to minimise rail disruption.

Interactive Digital Technology has improved efficiency, with no site visits for example, accuracy, and thus reduced physical reconstructs, by over 40%. The “analog” way is difficult, and things easily end up in the wrong location. There would have been more waste, concrete, fuel and construction carbon. Better to burn the Digital Carbon.

Clients of our Interactive City Planning System have gloated how they, and their colleagues, win back a day a week – that’s 20% – per person.

Further, Interactive Digital Systems are used for operator and rail driver training (and many other forms of rail competency training), and then rolled through into asset management. The Digital System provides double and triple benefits – with multiplying RoIs for the client and ever reducing carbon footprints and CO2. Interactive Digital Railways save the day.

Building and Estate Management

One project manager explained how he had tried a innumerable times to explain to an engineering consultant what he wanted, where and why he wanted it: he wanted a simple building alteration to the guttering, drainage and antennae on a campus building Y in site X. Drawings and phone calls were flying backwards and forwards, but the message couldn’t be heard. Unsurprisingly, variations were being raised for all this time it was taking for said time-based consultant to not understand the instructions.

Thence, dear client (before working with us), jumps in a taxi, gets on a plane for 3 hours , drives to the site, meets the consultant, walks around the site, climbs a ladder, points to the offending apparatus, politely. Said client then catches a taxi, gets back on the plane, and then another taxi – back to work. That is a whole lot of CO2 impact not required, and a whole lot of impact on our client’s productivity, project timeline and budget – and blood pressure.

This client’s interactive digital system across estates supports clearly communicating requirements and managing dozens of technical specialists – from telecoms to gas installations to contractors digging in wrong places, ripping up cables and then repairing said errors, burning twice the real carbon.

With Interactive Digital Technology in facilities management, work orders can be executed as annotated 2D and 3D digital snapshots from the “digital twin” models above and below ground, inside and outside buildings. He can control and manage his facilities all from afar in his (hopefully) sustainably powered office.

International Military Estate Planning with Explosive Ordnance

When the Prince of Country A calls the Prime Minister of your country and says he wants to decant a military base into another – a lot of carbon can get burnt just in the conversations and planning. Then there is the construction and management.

Expensive experts and consultants flying back and forth across the planet and the country to plan how to move the Dutch, French, English, Kiwis, Aussies and other allies to all train together. When these bases have Explosive Ordnance (ie bombs) on them, and people are sleeping right near the Exclusion Zones (in case they explode) – with several more airforce and army squadrons moving in – there is a lot at stake.

Using Interactive Digital Technology we were able to reconstruct the sites and build the explosive ordnance templates to allow the heads of states and their helpers to reconfigure these sites until everyone (that’s a lot of people across a lot of languages in this case) was satisfied. This includes runway reconfiguration, turning circles and wing spans across military aircraft and vehicle typologies as well as tracking paths of vehicles loaded with explosives.

“We had this plan done in weeks without flights – and consulted right up to the highest levels – normally this takes months with people flying everywhere…”

— Wing Commander

The clients mentioned how this planning and international mediation would normally have taken many flights of dozens of client and consultant experts; and many months of planning to get to a result. The tier 1 consultants begrudgingly agreed – they then quickly kicked us and the tech out of the room – so they could get back to old-school paper-based planning and flights – perfect for time-based consulting.