Our planet is facing its biggest challenge ever climate change.
We are now all aware that, if we don’t change the way in which we live, the impact on the environment will be catastrophic. In only a few decades, we will be faced with cities suffocated by pollution, lack of clean drinking water, seas full of waste, scarce energy sources, and extinct animal species. These are just some of the consequences of the irresponsible use of resources we see today.
Fortunately, technology can help in efforts to combat climate change. In particular, the Internet of Things (IoT).
IoT consists of sets of intelligent devices connected to a network that collects data and continuously processes information to know, in real time, the status and condition of what is being monitored at any given point in time.
At this point, you may be wondering what the connection between the Internet of Things and the environment is. The answer is that IoT allows us to optimize processes and production cycles.
We can optimize energy and water consumption to efficiently manage and safeguard natural resources. There are many ways IoT can be applied for these purposes and some have already been put into practice.
80% of the planet’s biodiversity is found in forests and over 250 species disappear each day due to deforestation caused by humans.
Fortunately, some countries are taking action to counteract deforestation. For example, Brazil has adopted a high-tech -monitoring system to protect the Amazon Forest, one of Earth’s most precious resources. The solution uses solar energy to activate sensors that monitor the rainforest and send messages in real time if illegal activity is detected.
The sensors are located high up in the sky, with built-in solar panels that eliminate the need for battery change or maintenance.
Counteract hydrogeological instability
Due to climate change caused (at least partly) by human actions, atmospheric phenomena are becoming increasingly violent. Floods, storm surges, landslides are more and more frequent with devastating consequences for the planet and all who inhabit it.
Fortunately, the Internet of Things can offer solutions to mitigate or even prevent some of the adverse consequences of these changes. For example, in the Czech Republic, intelligent sensors have been installed to monitor some unstable rock masses. The system is composed of displacement and temperature sensors, which record the data on an hourly basis without the need for inspections. The information acquired is then available on a portal which can be consulted remotely at any time. This system is also used to monitor landslides. In the video below, Simplecon uses IoT crackmeter to monitor unstable rocks.
Trace endangered species
The rhino is one of the most threatened species in the world. In just over 100 years its population has dropped dramatically from 1 million in 1800 to less than 30,000 animals today. Despite conservation efforts, around 1,000 rhinos are killed each year by poachers for their horns, which can command prices from $ 30,000 to $ 100,000 per kilogram on the black market.
In recent years, some studies have shown that zebras, prey animals, react differently depending on the type of threat they encounter. These results fueled the idea of exploiting IoT and predictive analytics technologies to combat rhino poaching. It was therefore decided to equip the prey animals with collars equipped with IoT sensors, which record their position, movements, speed and direction. From these data, behavioral patterns are then processed based on the response of the animals to the perceived threats. As a result, animals like the zebra become the rhinoceros sentinels. Their response models activate alarm systems that allow proactive intervention as soon as a rhino is in danger. In the video below, IBM helps to protect endagered african rhinos with IoT sensors.
Efficient resource management
More and more often we hear of smart cities. Traffic and pollution reduction, energy saving, greater efficiency in managing services to citizens are the goals of a connected city.
Worldwide, many cities are investing in smart public lighting. The adoption of smart lighting brings up to a 50% reduction in energy consumption and a substantial saving for the public purse. The city of New York, for example, has estimated a saving of 6 million dollars per year on its energy bill by replacing its 250,000 street lamps with additional maintenance savings of around 8 million dollars.
Moving from the city to the countryside, you can find more interesting IoT applications.
In the agriculture, the Internet of Things can be applied to irrigation, allowing farmers to calculate the precise water requirement of a given crop, thus reducing waste and costs. Through these smart water resource management systems, it is possible to save 30% to 50% of water.
Every age has its challenges and technology is one of the tools at our disposal to help us meet the challenges of the 21st century. Now is the time to introduce sustainability in our processes and the Internet of Things is one of the innovations that can help us successfully carry out this transformation.