COVID accelerated a pre-existing trend throughout private industry: structural changes to how businesses were conducting in-person inspections and audits.
The need to reduce Co2 emissions is not news; most governments, multilateral bodies, academics, and NGOs have warned about this urgent need for years now. The sense of urgency may be greater than ever before, as the United Nations recently referred to 2021 as a “make or break year,” to cut global emissions by 45% by 2030. President Biden has referred to the crisis as an “existential threat” and has made combating climate change a central pillar of his administration. Most private industries and business verticals are also embracing the trend and looking for ways to reduce their own carbon footprints.
According to the EPA, transportation is the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions at approximately 28.2% of all total domestic gas emissions. Over one-half of those emissions come from passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and other commonly used vehicles. These same vehicles are also widely used by companies or third parties conducting in-person inspection and auditing services. In-person inspections and audits of homes, businesses, supply chains, international development projects, floor plans, assets, operations, construction, projects, events, manufacturing, and many other industries occur every day, every hour, in every country on earth. During most of these inspections, a human inspector is driving a vehicle, or perhaps taking a plane and then a vehicle, to a location to perform an inspection or audit. These inspections are a critical aspect of ensuring due diligence, efficiency and build trust between two parties in any transaction.
The same in-person inspections also produce significant Co2 emissions daily, raising each company’s carbon footprint in the process. One standard inspection vehicle traveling to/from one inspection would likely emit over 40 pounds of carbon, or over 100 pounds each day (based on an estimate of 30k miles annually driven and 411 grams of carbon per mile; 2.5 inspections per day). Multiply that emission rate by thousands of vehicles, and across almost every industry on earth, the pounds of carbon emitted add up quickly. Estimates can further increase when considering less fuel-efficient vehicles and distant inspections, including air travel and hotel stays.
The EPA provides several recommendations on cutting carbon emissions in transportation, including improving operating practices and reducing the travel demand. Until now, digitizing a human-centric inspection was a difficult operating practice to change because businesses did not have a viable alternative to human oversight; images or locations could be easily faked, and synchronized live video is too inefficient and cumbersome for both parties. These problems are more acute now with the rise in advanced image deception technologies easily available on any smartphone.
The breakthrough of image provenance sidesteps these problems for most partners, as the images are captured in a controlled environment and repeatedly tested for authenticity. Our remote inspection platform, Vision, allows for asynchronous inspection at the convenience of the party being inspected no matter the city, time zone, or continent so long as there is mobile service. The net results are images and videos of high integrity in which one party can make accurate decisions off of — akin to sending a human there to perform an inspection or audit.
This technology represents a significant opportunity for private industry to dramatically cut carbon footprints by allowing its teams to leverage authenticated digital imagery for inspections. Conservatively, we estimate that replacing one in-person inspection with an authenticated vision inspection can save over 28 pounds of carbon alone; for reference, it is estimated that a mature tree can absorb 48 pounds of carbon annually. One Truepic Vision client prevented the emission of over 265,000 pounds of Co2 over 9,000 inspections in Q1 2021 alone; it would take over 5,500 trees one year to have absorbed that amount of Co2.
Human oversight will always be necessary and important, but private industry should begin to drive down carbon emissions, costs, and time by leveraging trusted photo documentation where possible. While Truepic Vision’s business benefits alone are a strong enough argument for digitizing in-person inspection and auditing services, the environmental benefits are equally persuasive. Using authenticated imagery in lieu of non-essential human oversight will be a game-changer for industries and businesses looking to cut their carbon footprints over the next decade.