“The Internet of Things will be the biggest, most sophisticated piece of equipment that we’ve deployed across the planet — ever. That means that we’ve got to think about the potential limitations on it due to power consumption, the use of rare earth elements — all of that — from day one.” — Kerry Hinton, telecommunications expert and former director of the Centre for Energy Efficient Telecommunications at the University of Melbourne.
From smart cities to connected cars, IoT promises to profoundly improve our lives. But as our communities become more advanced, pervasive environmental damage continues to threaten our very existence. Looking toward the future, is it possible that the Internet of Things holds the key to saving our planet? Rainforest Connection, a San Francisco-based startup, is already attempting to stop illegal logging by transforming recycled cellphones into listening devices.
There’s no question that IoT is already helping to reduce our strain on the environment, and these positive effects will certainly increase over time. For one, a future of autonomous cars promises to significantly reduce traffic by allowing vehicles to communicate and process what other cars are about to do, thereby allowing traffic to move at a single speed with only a small amount of space between vehicles. This reality will greatly reduce the fuel inefficiencies that result from the speed and gear changes occurring in human-operated cars.
Another incredible environmental achievement brought on by IoT comes in the form of bringing species back from the brink of extinction, which has already been accomplished with great success. In Spain, the Iberian Lynx was re-established by using IoT technologies to track and monitor the few remaining wild lynxes in the country. Scientists and wildlife experts used collars for geo-mapping the animals’ locations and habits. And because the animals were tracked using less invasive connected drones, the experts were able to help re-establish the Iberian Lynx.
Looking toward the future of farming, smart sensors are the key to monitoring and improving agricultural processes based on weather, humidity, sunlight and other factors. For example, farmers will be able to reduce the amount of water used to hydrate growing crops, as sensors will determine when the moisture levels in the soil are ideal, thereby increasing efficiency and decreasing the environmental cost of producing food.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the potential for IoT to reduce the damage to our environment. As long as we embrace IoT innovations and developments while creating a sophisticated infrastructure to support the evolving ecological landscape, we can look forward to a safer and cleaner planet of the future.
Written by Igor Ilunin, head of IoT at DataArt.