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Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions have reached an all-time high, according to the Federal Government's Quarterly Update of the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory. It is estimated that Australia’s per capita CO2 emissions is around 15 tonnes per person, which is more than the two tonnes recommended to keep global warming under two degrees Celsius by 2050. Industries and people around the country are acting now to prepare for these impacts.

This includes local government, who are seeking to reduce their impact. Councils are faced with a variety of challenges when it comes to reducing emissions, including operating within relatively strict guidelines, evolving technology and budgets. Despite these difficulties, the Beyond Zero Emission Australian Local Government Climate Action Review found that 56 per cent of surveyed councils had a corporate emissions reduction target, and a further 25 per cent intended to have one.

To meet the challenges in reducing greenhouse emissions, councils are adopting telematics in their fleets as part of their emissions strategy. Green Fleet strategy usually include three key elements.  The use of alternative vehicle technology such as electric or hydrogen vehicles; the use of biofuels and the introduction of telematics. However, while EV and hydrogen are still evolving and biofuels is still in early stages of being mainstream, telematics is a proven technology that is off the shelf. The benefits of being environmentally conscious make the journey to implement technology completely worthwhile.

Fleet Management Technology to the Rescue

Telematics is a critical element in reducing the emissions for any local government running a mixed fleet. The data that is collected through this technology – be it speed, fuel consumption, idle time, harsh braking, location, route and more – allows decision makers or fleet managers to identify problem areas and trends, address emissions and reap productivity and cost-savings.

It is important to keep in mind that even when searching for improvements in environmental impact, services must continue as normal.

The Impact of Reliable Location Data

Using fleet management software to track vehicles and assets in real-time, allows you to uncover a wealth of information. Fleet is a significant cost for all councils, so being able to optimise routes or reduce harsh usage, like overly heavy braking and speeding, helps to reduce fuel costs.

Thanks to GPS fleet tracking, it’s possible to reduce unnecessary idle time and other behaviours that cut back on emissions. By monitoring on-site activity, you can also improve how assets are used.

Routing vehicles based on real-time data and choosing the quickest route helps to eliminate unnecessary fuel waste and lets your team fulfil more jobs in a shorter timeframe, even if it’s just getting all tasks completed on schedule, which improves customer service.

Evaluating Environmental Efficiency

Environmental improvements aren’t the only benefits of in-vehicle monitoring systems.

Rewarding better driver behaviour and educating less efficient drivers introduces more ‘buy-in’ to fleet sustainability and encourages everyone to meet environmental goals together. Speeding, unnecessary harsh usage, and unnecessary idle time all introduce more carbon dioxide into the air. Telematics provides the real-time data to identify these instances, and then educate drivers about how to avoid them, while rewarding sustainable behaviour.

Environmental End Game

Every level of government in Australia has a part to play in reducing greenhouse emissions. With councils and local governments committing themselves to the goal of holding average temperature increase to well below 2°C, telematics is a proven technology delivering immediate outcomes and playing a critical role in meeting important environmental challenges.

Lou Boyle is a National Manager, Local Government at Teletrac Navman.

Lou joined Teletrac Navman in April 2019 as National Manager, Local Government. In this role, Lou is responsible for working with councils to improve fleet management. He helps councils understand current and future advancements in technology, and how tech can be used to solve policy problems. Prior to this, Lou was the Innovation Executive for the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ), working with councils across the state to improve technology adoption and show how tech can be used to improve productivity and service outcomes. He is passionate about helping councils reduce their environmental impact and save money through the adoption and integration of innovative technology.