Businesses across various industries are now emphasizing sustainability for both economic and environmental protection. No longer can any company take natural resources for granted. Helping reduce CO2 emissions is now a global effort among industries and citizens. Here are ways that smart technology is contributing to the new paradigm of sustainability.
Smart Energy Strategies
Every business needs to manage its energy efficiently to keep costs under control. Part of embracing smart energy is to tap into renewable energy that doesn't emit dangerous greenhouse gases. If your company invests in solar panels, it will be contributing to reducing strain on the traditional electric grid system.
Utilities have benefited tremendously with smart infrastructure of interconnected smart devices. No longer do system vulnerabilities take months to correct. Energy producers have helped pave the way toward sophisticated networks of IoT sensors that save energy, time and money.
IoT sensors can now be placed strategically throughout a property to accurately measure real-time energy use and identify energy waste. Thanks to smart technology integrated with HVAC systems, it's possible to know your heating or cooling usage at all times of the day with clicks on an app. It further gives you the power to make temperature adjustments remotely.
Check out the recording of our webinar "The Shift to Earth 4.0", where our panel of experts shared their knowledge and perspectives on the state of the environment and how Industry 4.0 will impact the earth.
Measuring Air Pollution
Air pollution is not a debatable theory. It's something that can be measured by smart technology. The Air Quality Index (AQI) developed by the Environmental Protection Agency is a key metric for measuring air quality. The five major pollutants it measures in the air are:
- Ground-level ozone
- Carbon monoxide
- Sulfur dioxide
- Nitrogen dioxide
- Aerosols and airborne particles
The reason air pollution monitoring is important is because the World Health Organization has reported that both indoor and outdoor pollution are responsible for about 7 million global premature deaths. The largest source of global air pollution comes from the oil and gas industry. Smart technology can at least measure pollution so that the danger it poses becomes a growing part of regulatory discussions.
Smart Waste Reduction
Garbage produced by city populations has created landfill buildup, which threatens to leak toxic waste in the environment. The World Bank projects that solid waste buildup will grow by 70 percent by 2050. Despite stricter regulations, waste still builds up in areas beyond landfills from illegal dumping. Part of the solution is to monitor waste in as many areas as possible by placing sensors in dumpsters and municipal trash containers.
Smart waste management involves using IoT sensors to detect real-time waste levels in receptacles. This information helps waste removal services set appropriate pickup schedules for different types of waste.
By tracking vehicle metrics in fleet monitoring, it's possible to maximize fuel efficiency while reducing emissions. Headquarters can monitor fuel efficiency at all times and determine which vehicles provide the most overall cost efficiency. From there, the transportation firm can replace or improve underperforming vehicles.
Fleet data has helped transportation companies determine they should move away from diesel fuel in the future due to its excessive CO2 emissions. Many logistics firms are planning on adopting electric vehicles in the future as part of a goal to reach zero emissions.
The data from fleet monitoring can also help these firms optimize routing, as well as evaluate driver behavior. IoT sensors can track driving actions such as braking and accelerating, as well as vehicle speeds in relation to speed limits.
Smart Water Monitoring
Over half of the global population will live in water-stressed regions by 2050, according to MIT researchers. Due to this grim forecast, it's essential for citizens, businesses and governments to adopt aggressive methods of reducing water waste. At one time, water leaks were something water utilities accepted as regular losses, but now with smart technology, it's possible to detect leaks when they happen and fix them quickly. Sensors can be placed in pumps and valves to identify water quality as well as leaks.
The expansion of population alone in the future will be a strain on natural resources, while climate change presents even greater challenges to the food supply. Smart sensors measure cultivation conditions in the soil, water and air, helping farmers maintain and protect crops. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned that food production must increase by 50 percent by 2050 to meet global demand. By then, the population will be an estimated 10 billion people.
IoT devices will help farmers deepen their understanding of activities such as seeding, fertilization and irrigation. Smart technology can be used to alert farmers when unhealthy conditions threaten crops.
Improper temperature in the supply chain leads to food waste, which is a major reason why one-third of the world's food goes to waste. But when IoT sensors are installed to measure temperature, humidity, light intensity and other conditions throughout the supply chain, analysts can pinpoint where tolerance thresholds are breached. They can then fix these vulnerabilities right away to prevent food waste.
How Geofencing Protects Wildlife
Endangered wildlife can now gain better protection with the help of human friends and IoT sensors. Reindeers, for example, are vulnerable species in Norway, as the population has dwindled to under one million. About 10 percent are killed each year by wolves or colliding with trains. But by placing IoT sensors in locations where these herds live, scientists can monitor their movements. Geofencing is the use of RFID chips that can be located geographically via software and trigger digital events.
Detecting Marine Life
At one time conservationists chose to track sea creatures from the air. But this method did not fit the concept of sustainability because it was too costly. Today, IoT technology keeps improving for tracking fast-moving marine life like sharks. Scientists can track them with sensors and cameras through device tagging. IoT apps can be used by fishermen to get a clear idea of the certain types of fish that populate a waterway.
An emerging technological breakthrough for people with aquatic careers is Internet of Underwater Things (IoUT). These new tools can be used to protect the ocean and prevent environmental destruction. Here are 4 key applications of IoUT devices for measuring environmental conditions:
- Safe water - IoUT devices can measure pH and other metrics relating to water quality. Such a device may encompass a surface buoy, battery, antenna and sensors.
- Ocean debris - Several projects are underway to monitor ocean water quality. One example is an automated ship called the Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS). Integrated with AI technology, this solution detects pollution such as microplastics in the water.
- Marine life tracking - Sea creatures can be tracked using pop-up satellite tags that detach from the marine life eventually. Scientists then collect the tags on the ocean's surface.
- Caring for endangered species - IoUT devices can ultimately prevent the extinction of endangered marine life species. When technology experts, conservationists and local communities combine costs and preservation efforts, it can help an endangered species survive.
Future IoUT Challenges
One of the main challenges for IoUT to overcome is that radio signals weaken underwater and don't travel far. A focus on improving underwater transmission will empower scientists enormously. A move toward underwater optical communications would deliver more reliable results with wider bandwidth. The use of underwater robots will also play a role in protecting and improving the environment.
Sustainability is a growing concern around the world as smart technology is proving to help pave paths to more eco-friendly and economical solutions. People should venture into IoT technology and how it can make your business greener and more efficient.