We know that mobile technology is useful for more than just games. The Float team has been getting more and more questions about how investing in mobile technology will show a return on investment. It turns out that we’ve found several areas where mobile device users expect to see a large savings, including in city hall, schools and the doctor’s office. It might take some extra cash up front, but these cases show how certain companies are switching to mobile devices and expecting to save in the long run.
Reducing paper consumption in government meetings
One of the areas where the iPad is gaining traction is in government meetings. Granicus announced in March a free app called iLegislate, which helps board members organize their agendas. “We recognized a tremendous opportunity to use tablets as an efficiency and cost saving tool in government—particularly to reduce the dependency on paper in the legislative process,” said Granicus cofounder and chief technology officer, Javier Muniz. “In our research, we found that there was a significant cost associated with printing and managing the delivery of agendas. We also found that while tools existed to make the process paperless for staff members and citizens, the tools for lawmakers required significant staff time to be truly effective.” A Williamsburg, Va., board using iLegislate estimates about $2,000 in savings annually.
Other governments across the country have adopted the idea, according to USA Today. The Hampton city council in Virginia bought six iPads for $4,200 in order to save $18,000 annually. At least two cities in California, Lynwood City and Redwood City, have also taken to iPads to reduce paper consumption and costs.
A primary concern for government transparency advocates would be knowing whether the officials were using the devices for their intended use. Ken Bunting of the National Freedom of Information Coalition told the USA Today that electronic records should be public data, but the laws vary from state to state.
Not restricted to just domestic local governments, India’s Parliamentary house Rajya Sabha now uses iPads and Samsung’s Galaxy Tabs for easy access. The National Informatics Center (NIC) teamed up with Samsung to develop a widget for use in the house. NIC developed a widget for iOS and Android, while Samsung created only an Android version.
- CBC News: Tablet computers – Will devices like the iPad replace paper?
- Peoria Journal Star: iPads will save money
- Loudon Times: Supervisors eye new pads
Schools can save paper, too
Schools across the United States and even Europe have begun to use the mobile devices for educational purposes, again with the idea that they will save schools on paper costs. T3 reported that Honywood Comprehensive School in Coggleshall, Essex, England, would give each student an iPad 2 by the end of the year. Parents were asked to donate £50 for insurance.
Believe it or not, one school district in Maine spent $200,000 to buy iPads for nearly 300 kindergartners, according to the AP (by way of MSNBC). Maine has been a leader in educational technology use, being home to the first school in the nation to equip seventh- and eighth-grade students with Apple laptops in 2002 and 2003.
ComputerWorld mentioned that these devices are bringing more than just the idea of being green. In particular, the Scene & Heard app (£32) for the iPad was developed for students with augmentive and assistive communication (AAC) needs. At Westmark School, iPads are being used for students with learning differences such as dyslexia and ADD.
The Yale School of Medicine is a great example that combines both aspects of green usage and mobile learning. The school announced in August it would be giving out 520 iPad 2 units. Students can download the entire curriculum on the device, as well as recording and updating patient information. This is extremely similar to the move airline carriers have already started to carry out. The iPads cost the school about $600,000, but the school is hopeful the expenditure make up for itself in reduced printing costs. Printed course materials will remain available. In 2010, the Stanford School of Medicine became the first institution of its type to give their students iPads in fall 2010.
- LA Times blog: Maine school district to spend $200,000 on Apple iPads for kindergartners
- WFMY News 2:Montlieu Academy Provides Every Student With iPad
Conserving fuel consumption
Not only can mobile devices save on paper costs, but they can be energy-savers, too.
Last week, we told you about the iPad’s overflight dominance in United and Continental planes. It turns out they’re not the only airline carrier to do so. In June, American Airlines began using iPads to replace the 30-plus-pound flight bag filled with paper manuals and will save an estimated $1.2 million in fuel costs. Alaska Airlines use iPads, as well. In fact, one pilot showed a reporter from USA Today the monstrosity that is his paper flight materials compared to an iPad.
Fuel efficiency isn’t restricted to the air. Researchers from MIT and Princeton announced they have developed a system that could cut drivers’ fuel consumption by 20 percent. The system, called SignalGuru, tells drivers when to slow down so they can avoid waiting at a stoplight. SignalGuru, tested in Cambridge, Mass., and Singapore, differs from the traditional GPS application in that it uses other phones mounted on car dashboards that can estimate when traffic lights change within two-thirds of a second’s accuracy. Emmanouil Koukoumidis, a visiting researcher who led the project, said cars are responsible for 28 percent of energy consumption and 32 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. The idea is that small changes in driving patterns could lead to big energy savings over time.
Electronic health records
In addition to the med students using iPads as mobile reference sources, at least one app has gained traction – drchrono. The iPad app checks in patients, translates speech to text, bills patients and more – all without using a single sheet of paper. According to Healthcare IT News, doctors can receive $44,000 in incentives for using the app.
- iMedicalApps: The first iPad electronic health record, DrChrono, gets major update, exclusive beta review
- For the Record: Mobile Mayhem
Lutron’s Home Control+ iPad app ($19.99) acts as a remote control for lights, window shades, temperature thermostats and appliances. While described in this article as for home and business use, there’s no conceivable reason why this couldn’t be applicable to other uses. According to a February article from Mashable, says Lutron was testing it in offices and restaurants. Lutron is a lighting control design and manufacturing company, having created the system currently in use at the New York Times Building. A free version of the app also exists.
Of course, the Mashable article mentions other ways in which businesses can go green, including using iPads to see how they measure up to Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) standards.
Cooler Planet: 7 Mobile Apps to Help Green Your Life
Now, it’s your turn!
Are you using mobile devices to help your home or office go green? Tell us what apps and devices you like!