The emerging concept of green IoT serves multiple purposes with the goal of improving the quality of life through technology and eco-friendly practices. IoT stands for the "Internet of Things" which comprise real-time internet-connected devices designed to collect specific data. Meanwhile, green IoT involves the use of sensors that monitor the environment to ensure the safety of natural resources such as clean water, air, soil and food.
Green IoT Explained
Green IoT encompasses energy-efficient techniques that IoT uses to lessen the greenhouse effects of emerging technologies.
Everyone is fairly aware that environmental elements such as air and water are vulnerable to greenhouse gases. An often understated drawback of industrialization is the toxic chemical pollution it spreads across the planet. Even computers contribute to pollution in the form of end-of-life e-waste if they end up in a landfill. Federal state and local governments are investing in green IoT as a step toward cleaning up the environment.
Technologies Used for Green IoT
Growing environmental concerns are driving the development of apps designed to monitor environmental conditions. IoT devices that connect with smartphone apps are used to measure temperature, humidity, and wind speed along with the quality of air, water and soil. Many farmers have adopted IoT devices to monitor agricultural conditions.
When combined with machine learning software, IoT data can lead to calculated weather and crop growth forecasts. Here are some key emerging green technologies associated with IoT:
- Green RFID - Decreasing the size of RFID tags is a step toward sustainability since it helps cut waste. Designers of green RFID technology have made advancements in energy-efficient algorithms for tag estimation.
- Green WSN - As an integral component of green IoT, a green wireless sensor network (WSN) is a series of multiple computing devices that share limited power and storage capacity.
- Green Cloud Computing - Migrating business operations to the cloud opens up several possibilities for reducing your carbon footprint. You don't have to invest in as much expensive hardware, which likely contains toxic materials.
An entire book can be written about how the cloud itself makes business activity more efficient and eco-friendly. The only major environmental concern about the cloud is many large data centers around the world are powered by fossil fuel energy. When cloud usage becomes congested, it can strain the traditional electric grid system.
On the other hand, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and other large tech companies have invested heavily in large facilities powered by renewable energy. In 2022 Amazon became the largest buyer of renewable energy on the planet. The company has been on a green buying spree as part of its goal to be "net-zero carbon" by 2040.
Environmental Advantages of Cloud Computing
The cloud frees up your physical space since you can store digital documents in a secure data center. Cloud computing allows for remote work from home, reducing the need for morning and afternoon commutes across town.
Another green advantage of the cloud is it can cut your energy bills by using less hardware, electricity and office space. Allowing employees to bring their own devices helps reduce the need to invest in computers that generally have a lifespan of 5-10 years before becoming e-waste or getting recycled.
On one hand, hanging on to legacy computing systems gives you the most for your investment. On the other hand, old computing systems are the most vulnerable to cyber-attacks. The cloud offers a balanced solution in the sense it makes computing efficient as long as individual IoT devices on your network have their own or nearby computing capacity.
Ultimately, the cloud cuts environmental waste and risk. Moving to the cloud means there's less need for paper, which helps preserve forests. Developing a cloud-based digital infrastructure reduces the need to store a growing stack of hard-copy documents. Since the cloud allows for low-cost communication, it also reduces the need to print marketing material for mass distribution.
Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are powerful cloud services that help businesses cut the costs of marketing by connecting directly with patrons. It saves businesses from doing costly large print runs to promote themselves. The ink used in print is typically a toxic material, although many print shops are seeking greener solutions.
How to Optimize Green IoT
Eco-friendly solutions are possible for an organization the more it deploys IoT devices that monitor environmental activity. The three main qualities for electronic devices to be considered sustainable are how lean, efficient and durable they are. A machine learning program can scan volumes of data from sustainability studies and experiments to provide concise reports on which solutions deliver the most eco-friendly results.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been a notable pioneer in making IoT more efficient and secure. Its platform called AWS IoT Core allows multiple IoT devices to securely interact with each other in the cloud. With the help of device communication protocols, the system allows users to publish data in the cloud and offers subscriptions for accessing the data.
According to a study by 451 Research, AWS reduces its carbon footprint significantly in its data centers thanks to more efficient use of servers. Another reason why AWS IoT Core is considered a sustainable cloud solution is it uses less code on IoT devices, which requires less maintenance. The system is secure due to its zero trust policy and its robust Transport Layer Security (TLS) mutual authentication protocols that all AWS traffic is routed through.
For companies seeking to keep data as localized as possible, Amazon offers AWS IoT Greengrass, a service that expands the capacities of AWS IoT Core. This more advanced monitoring system allows for greater flexibility with offline capabilities and managing data remotely. The service utilizes components that make coding more efficient, such as runtime installers and libraries. Essentially, electronic devices no longer need to be designed with code for one purpose.
Challenges Facing Green IoT
Today there are billions of IoT devices connected to the internet. During this decade the number is expected to surpass 40 billion. Many of these devices are designed to be compatible with 5G wireless networks, although there are still countless sensors operating on 3G and 4G. The advent of 5G makes it possible for companies to integrate machine learning technology with IoT.
But cluttering up the cloud with too much big data can be a digital pollution problem that creates latency. So, the alternative when it comes to using IoT devices is edge computing, in which sensors or nearby nodes process the data instead of sending millions of packets over long distances to the cloud. The combination of 5G and green IoT allows for vast data monitoring with the help of edge computing.
The challenge for data centers to shift to renewable energy and greener practices mainly involves financial barriers. Otherwise, many data centers and businesses of all types are on board with green energy.
The rise of green IoT is changing the way companies of all sizes are running their businesses. A growing wave of organizations is expressing their concern about protecting the environment, making IoT significant for going green. Not only can tech developers contribute to a greener world, but so can organizations that embrace smart technology.