A model for carbon reduction?
Allstar Business Solutions’ Ecopoint scheme, which was launched by the leading fuel card provider earlier this year to help its customers improve their green credentials, has already reached a major milestone after supporting the creation of over 1,000 acres of new UK woodland.
The fuel card expert teamed up with Forest Carbon, the UK’s leading developer of new carbon woodland projects, to launch the woodland creation for carbon capture initiative just over six months ago. Today, more than 20,000 Allstar customers are part of the scheme, with more and more businesses pledging their support every month.
Peter Bridgen, Allstar’s Managing Director, commented: “We launched our Ecopoint scheme to improve the service we provide our customers and add even more value to our proposition. Carbon capturing is becoming increasingly important for our customer base and the fleet industry as a whole as a way to reduce the impact of fleet carbon emissions and help the environment.
“The fact that we already have over 20,000 customers using Ecopoint highlights the importance that UK businesses place on enhancing their green credentials. In a short space of time, our customers have already helped plant over 670,000 trees, creating 1,077 acres of new UK woodland. This equates to over 176,000 tonnes of carbon capturing underway since the scheme was launched, and also offers significant other social and environmental benefits to the UK.
“This is a fantastic achievement and one which we, and our customers, should be extremely proud of. However, we are not a company that rests on its laurels. Our aim over the next 12 months is to make Ecopoint the biggest and most successful carbon capturing scheme in the UK and we are encouraging more customers to take a look at the benefits this scheme offers.”
The Allstar customer base that uses Ecopoint is extremely diverse, from local councils looking to act more sustainably, to engineering businesses running large vehicle fleets. A number of national housebuilders, a host of manufacturers and more regionally based businesses like insurance brokers have also signed up to invest in the scheme that benefits the environment.
Graham Blew, Town Clerk at Swanscombe & Greenhithe Town Council, said: “Allstar’s Ecopoint scheme has been a real breath of fresh air for our town council. We have a fleet of vehicles that are deployed for maintaining council land; children’s play areas, our parks and most importantly our heritage park, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
“It is imperative when carrying out these tasks that we know we’re building toward a more sustainable future. We have targets to become a greener council and Allstar is helping us achieve this. We want to ensure the recreational facilities we hold are protected and maintained for generations to come.”
To join Allstar’s Ecopoint scheme, customers pay a contribution per card per month for 100 percent carbon capture. This, in turn, provides the means to plant woodlands that are quality assured by the UK Government’s Woodland Carbon Code, which certifies projects to ISO standards.
The certification and planting status of each woodland is publicly verified via the Markit Environmental Registry, allowing customers to keep track of their progress. Customers that join can request to receive an annual e-Certificate which shows how many trees have been planted on their behalf, along with the anticipated carbon capture.
Plans are also in motion to start creating forests outside of the UK. From the 1stJanuary 2016, subscribers to the scheme will be contributing to woodland - 50 percent in the UK and 50 percent overseas.
Stephen Prior, Director at Forest Carbon, commented on the success of the Allstar Ecopoint scheme: “The Ecopoint project has been more successful than I could have ever imagined. Considering the idea was born in January this year, to have 176,396 tonnes of carbon capture underway already is a significant achievement. This is on course to be by far our biggest success of our Forest Carbon accounts, however there is still much work to be done, so we look forward to developing this scheme even further with Allstar moving forward.”
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”