SMS Use Cases: Text Messaging and Climate Change
Progress often comes from the most unexpected places. In this post, we explore some ways SMS (or text messaging) has aided in the fight against climate change.
Global climate change is an ongoing concern that has already had observable effects on the environment. According to NASA, glaciers have shrunk, ice on rivers and lakes is breaking up earlier, plant and animal ranges have shifted, and trees are flowering sooner.
So, it should come as no surprise that global climate consciousness has advanced in lockstep. As individuals and organizations around the world continue to take more active roles in addressing the problem, governments have begun to invest more and more resources into clean and renewable energy initiatives. In 2019, for instance, new American investments into renewables reached 59 billion U.S. dollars, compared to just 11.3 billion U.S. dollars in 2005.
But as is often the case when it comes to innovation, the most consequential advances often go unnoticed and unremarked upon. A classic example comes courtesy of the humble soda can. Over the last 40 years, can manufacturers have reduced the amount of aluminum and steel used to produce cans by around 50%. Not only has this made it possible for manufacturers to cut material costs, but it’s also impacted transport costs (and thus emissions), which are themselves a function of can weight.
Along the same lines, SMS, or text messaging, has had an under-appreciated impact on the fight against anthropogenic climate change. To demonstrate, this blog post will explore the following:
- The Sustainability of SMS
- SMS for Shipment Tracking and Delivery Notifications
- SMS for Environmental and IoT Sensor Alerts
- SMS for Fund Raising and Charitable Giving
The Sustainability of SMS
First, it’s worth pointing out that SMS messages are a highly sustainable form of digital communication. According to Mike Berners-Lee, a researcher and writer on carbon footprinting, SMS is more sustainable than email and instant messaging (IM). While an ordinary email emits some 4 g of CO2, SMS messages emit just 0.014 g.
As for IM, there’s not yet enough concrete data to predict its carbon footprint. Nevertheless, as the folks over at Youmatter point out, since these communications use Internet networks, it’s reasonable to assume that their carbon footprint is closer to that of email than SMS.
SMS for Shipment Tracking and Delivery Notifications
Now, at first glance, this one might seem like a bit of a head-scratcher. But it’s actually pretty straightforward. The primary reason companies use SMS for delivery notifications is that it is a great way to prevent failed deliveries.
Of course, businesses like Amazon and UPS probably didn’t have their carbon footprints in mind when they decided to implement delivery and shipment tracking notifications. Instead, they were likely considering the knock-on effects associated with failed deliveries (i.e. shipment delays, excess cargo, and excess fuel costs), many of which do impact their carbon footprints.
Still, by informing customers when their orders are out for delivery, such companies have managed to reduce the average time of delivery per package and thus mitigate the associated Nth-order effects that impact the environment.
SMS for Environmental and IoT Sensor Alerts
Environmental sensors are used for measuring, monitoring, and recording environmental parameters in cities, buildings, agricultural areas, natural ecosystems, and other important environments. They can be used to measure things like temperature, humidity, heat losses, air quality, etc.
Additionally, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are turning towards the Internet of Things (IoT) to differentiate their products. As a result, their sensors are becoming more sophisticated. Today, environmental sensors can even be set up to send SMS alerts anytime they detect an unusual or specified environmental event. This information can then be used for proactive decision making.
For example, smart agriculture sensors can be used to optimize (and thus reduce) water consumption. Likewise, smart energy solutions, such as smart thermostats, can alert homeowners or facilities managers whenever they are about to cross pre-set energy thresholds.
SMS for Fund Raising and Charitable Giving
These days, non-profits dedicated to addressing climate change are cropping up all over the globe. SMS makes it easy for organizations to engage with donors in real-time. It can be used to promote fundraisers, generate interest in events, announce updates to fundraising goals, etc.
Moreover, SMS is widely accessible, globally standardized, and natively supported on nearly every mobile phone on the market. In other words, unlike over-the-top (OTT) messaging apps like WhatsApp, Messenger, Telegram, or Viber, users are not required to download the same third-party clients or browsers to communicate via SMS.
Finally, SMS is one of the few communications tools capable of reaching across countries, age groups, genders, and a variety of other important demographic groups. Consider the following: 65% of the global population can send and receive text messages and approximately 98% of all text messages are opened within three minutes.
Pareteum is an experienced provider of Communications Platform-as-a-Service solutions. We empower enterprises, communications service providers, internet service providers, mobile operators, full MVNOs, light MVNOs, early-stage innovators, developers, IoT (Internet of Things), and telecommunications infrastructure providers with the freedom and control to create, deliver, and scale innovative communications experiences.
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