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Disruptive technologies constantly change the bottom line of human existence. From the invention of the wheel to electric cars and so much more, the world observed and accepted these changes with open arms. Similarly, the Internet of Things or IoT has also become a cause and a catalyst for several advancements.
The entry of IoT into every industry comes with two promises;
Similarly, IoT is helping every interested entity protect, sustain, maintain, and understand our environment on a far greater level. By using IoT, we have saved a species from extinction, built smart sensors, revolutionized farming, mitigate climate change, and so on.
By working with IoT-based systems, environment protection agencies and patrons can get a better understanding of the current position. They can further create solutions with better targeting and higher efficiency.
We need our environment to be sustainable. The same is propagated by the world bodies like the UN and its auxiliary branches. It is essential to hand over a secure, safe, and healthy world to our children so that they can thrive.
But, how can IoT help maintain this momentum and even help us put the best foot forward? That is what we will discuss in this article.
Before that, it would be better to get an understanding of what is IoT and how it has the potential to help with environmental sustainability.
IoT refers to the setting of a network comprising physical objects (things) connected together. This network consists of sensors, software, and other similar peripherals. The purpose of building this network is data collection, data exchange, and data interpretation.
The best part about IoT is that there is no limit of where you can use it. An IoT setting can be built inside a home or at a nuclear facility. The underlying philosophy is creating an IoT network is similar across the spectrum.
Using IoT for environmental sustainability is helpful in multiple ways. It can help support the existing measures and devise new ones according to the dynamic requirements.
Key decision-makers in the businesses which are into devising solutions for environmental sustainability are also enthusiastic about using IoT for the same. Our environment is suffering, and the future is at stake.
In this scenario, we need solutions that can help change the situation around and help sustain the good things that come out of these measures.
1. Energy Efficiency
We need to be accountable and responsible when it comes to energy consumption. The greed for energy has brought humanity to the mercy of climate.
From unprecedented climatic anomalies to increasing complexity in predicting them, climate change is very real and showing its impact. IoT can help us make amends in this direction and reduce the impact of carbon.
We already have several substitutes of energy. However, their implementation and execution is the issue. The high cost of implementation deters the governments from implementing such solutions. These include wind energy, nuclear energy, building smart grids, and so on.
With IoT, we can deliver;
These aspects can prove to be useful on a granular level to a city-wide level. Because IoT connects all the smart devices, it can help optimize the energy consumption of a home. It can help in the reduction of energy consumption and even generate renewable energy on-site.
Mother Earth is heating up due to several reasons. One of those reasons is the accumulation of carbon inside the atmosphere. The more carbon is trapped inside the atmosphere, the hotter Earth will get.
There are measures working to reduce the carbon emissions from industries and factories. Completing these efforts, we need to capture the existing carbon that is converting Earth into a furnace.
By using IoT solutions consisting of sensors, data interpretation hardware, and software. One of the many solutions currently under practice is CarbFix. This project sucks the carbon out of the air turning it back into minerals and reused to create energy.
Using IoT programs like CarbFix can scale their operational capacity. They can make smarter and better decisions with data. We can reach a stage where the damage done by carbon is entirely fixed.
Less carbon in the environment is one of the best gifts that we can give to our children. We can build a sustainable future for them today.
Where technology is beneficial in reducing carbon waste, it also increases the menace of e-waste. Every year companies cumulatively spend billions of dollars on e-waste disposal.
The key is to reduce the improper disposal of discarded devices and keep them in check from further polluting the environment. It is not only up to the companies, but it is the responsibility of every device owner to dispose of their old devices properly.
Every kind of waste leads to deteriorating the environment. Companies can use IoT to build devices with eco-friendly hardware and monitor their health. They can leverage IoT’s abilities to put in place techniques and methods of proper discarding, refurbishing, and reusing.
Moreover, with IoT, we can build smart monitoring systems that can monitor the hardware and notify the users about the system's health. This can ultimately reduce the impact on the environment.
Agriculture has been a major driver of growth in almost every economy. But the same also contributes to an increase in carbon footprint, organic waste, and over-utilization of resources.
However, data-driven and smart agriculture is the answer to all these problems. Data-driven agricultural solutions can easily help in monitoring crop health, utilization of resources, soil health, and much more.
These aspects are not only at talking stages, but they are under implementation. In terms of animal rearing and farming, IoT solutions are used for better animal health monitoring and treating them for any sort of condition.
Animal farming monitoring and analysis helps with better healthcare and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Another area where IoT proves to be an asset is irrigation. Water levels are already under pressure across the globe. Using IoT, we can optimize the water consumption cycles and formulate smart consumption techniques.
Countless species are on the verge of extinction, and some have already gone extinct. Out of many reasons, human encroachment, poaching, and using animals for their greedy purposes is one.
Decreasing the number of animals in the ecosystem is facilitating unwanted changes to the entire food chain. Our biodiversity health is at risk. To protect and preserve something, we need first to understand it.
Scientists are currently using artificial intelligence to monitor the health and habits of animals. From non-invasive health monitoring to tracking their movements, we can successfully predict the animal’s behavior.
IoT can be a great contributor to poaching prevention. Specifically, we can use it to predict and find out poaching paths. By connecting cameras, sensors, and other analytical devices in the area, we can map out the poacher’s routes and habits.
The La Olivilla breeding center in Southern Spain presents a fantastic and apt example of how we can use IoT and AI to save a species from extinction. The people at the breeding center sought action when only 100 Iberian Lynx were left.
By attaching tracking collars, the felines were tracked via georeferencing technique. The scientists at the center studied their behavior in terms of using space and territory.
In addition to this, they used drones to take an aerial view without any human intervention, giving the lynx better privacy and a chance to behave naturally in their habitat.
By understanding these small things, the scientists were able to increase their population from 100 to 300.
We cannot live without water, there is no hiding this fact. Still, the naivety of mankind is apparent when we see the present water crisis. From reducing drinkable water to trashing the water bodies, it is like we are digging up our own grave.
AI and IoT technologies are currently under practice for autonomous garbage collection from the ocean. Furthermore, IoT can be used to monitor the ocean conditions, more specifically, the changing conditions.
Another use case of IoT is improving the water condition by constantly monitoring the pollution levels in real-time. By observing the minute changes in the water bodies, we can also detect and predict the illegal activities that deteriorate water quality.
7. Cargo Shipping
Creating a sustainable future is way more integrated than we think. It is not only about planting trees and reducing carbon emissions. But to see an observable change, we need to change a lot of other things.
One of those is optimizing the cargo shipping industry. Did you know that cargo shipping alone contributes to 3% of the carbon emissions? Yes, that is why we need to address this problem smartly.
Cargo shipping is integral to every industry and economy. From a pin to nuclear fuel, anything and everything is there on one of the billion cargo ships cruising across the world oceans at any point during the day.
Cargo shipping fuel leads to 949 million tonnes of carbon emissions and uses 300 million tonnes of fuel every year. We need to optimize fuel consumption if we want to live in a sustainable future.
Not going into the cargo ship engines, we can use IoT to monitor their health, track performance, and predict overhauls. This can prevent jampacking the terminals and better engine health, which ultimately improves the ship’s life cycle and performance.
In the end, we will have ships running on the water with the same capacity but with better fuel efficiency.
Let’s list out the type of efficiencies we can get by using IoT.
We have already covered energy efficiency in the above parts. But to help you know more. IoT is beneficial in creating energy-efficient appliances, automobiles, machines, etc.
In every such respect, we can use this technology to build a better living environment by not only reducing the carbon footprint but finding new ways to make a difference.
Lighting efficiency is about the smarter consumption of electricity. Although we are using several systems at present to optimize the same, IoT can be a real gamechanger. IoT can help build smart lighting systems that are more responsive to usage.
We can build systems that will change the intensity of lighting depending on the number of people in the room. Plus, these technologies can also change the intensity based on the time, climate, and current weather.
Everything is about bringing efficiency into the system. Lastly, we have heating and cooling efficiency. IoT can be used in conjunction with existing peripherals like thermostats, smart plugs, and other smart devices to create highly efficient cooling and heating systems.
Building such smart systems can be streamlined based on the industry and requirements. The ultimate goal is to create a self-sustaining and monitoring system which reduces human intervention and automates the heating and cooling environment smartly.
Here again, the motive is to optimize the levels of energy consumption by creating smart systems.
Yes, you read it right. We can use IoT to create better and smarter driving practices. To understand this, we need to identify the essence of IoT, and that is inter-device connectivity of the deepest level.
Using this as a premise, IoT can create a better communication channel between the vehicles and their surroundings. With this, we can usher into the era of green driving.
IoT devices and systems can recommend the optimal driving speed, the distance between the vehicles, and gear change sequences. At the end of it, you can look forward to better fuel mileage.
WHO shares that 97% of the cities in low and middle-income nations cannot meet the air quality control and improvement guidelines.
As alarming as this figure is, we can also deduce that countries which are not working on betterment today are unlikely to see a better future.
Air pollution is as real a problem as is the existing Covid-19 crisis. We can and must use IoT to create better monitoring tools for all the cities. Placing city-wide sensors can help determine the areas with the highest pollution.
Then we can use regional sensors to handpick the regions that produce high amounts of harmful gases. Industries, factories, workshops, and residential areas must also be fitted with these sensors to ensure air quality control within the premises.
It is about making a collective effort. The same systems can notify and alert the employees and citizens about air health and take necessary measures to safeguard their health.
Air quality control systems can be installed at any place and juncture. It is pertinent to start implementing these systems today so that we can move towards the Sustainable Development Goals of a Sustainable Future.
The Internet of Things is an incredible technology. We can leverage its wide array of possibilities for problem identification, analysis, prediction, and mitigation. IoT is not a single peripheral, nor will it work in a vacuum.
It is a collective activity that can help us build a better and sustainable future. A future where we are more connected to Mother Nature. From smart resources utilization to optimize their performance, we can create a more integrated future.
In the end, sustainability is all about using our resources smartly and judiciously while ensuring their efficiency. IoT is the prime example of the sync between technology, nature, and humans.
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