If we were to put the 4.5 billion years that the earth has existed into a 24-hour clock, humans would only have been around for the last 0.2 seconds.

In this short time frame, we’ve managed to super heat the planet to the point of what people are calling, “the sixth extinction”.

However, in the new millenia, we are using emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and initiatives like the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to say, not today.

In 2015, the United Nations established the 17 Sustainable Development Goals which make up a systematic global framework to end poverty and protect our planet by 2030.

Image result for sustainable development goals

Why 2030? Because if we don’t curb our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by then, we’ll pass a crucial tipping point that we cannot come back from. For example, imagine if 40% of the human population didn’t have access to water and sanitation. 

Reaching the SDGs – Is IoT the Answer?

We have the power to mitigate this climate crisis. In fact, applications using technologies like the Internet of Things have already been implemented to help us reach these Sustainable Development Goals.

Furthermore, according to a recent study, 84% of IoT deployments are addressing the SDGs in some way. 70% of these deployments were driven by the private sector.

The success rate? Phenomenal. Keep reading.

The Money Factor

Over the past decade, sustainability has moved to the global stage thanks in part to climate protests, studies by research institutions, and news coverage of the situation at hand. In fact, entire “clean” industries, like wind farming, have been developed.

In 2013, wind energy in the US avoided the use of an estimated 95.6 million tons of CO2 – the equivalent of 16.9 million cars on the road.

-The American Wind Energy Association.

Switching back to IoT, it’s economic impact will be around $11.1 trillion, 14% of today’s global GDP, by 2025. The Internet of Things is no longer a nascent term people are brushing off, but rather a technology that is proving to generate positive socio-economic and environmental impacts. 

IoT as a disruptive technology

Of the 84% of the IoT programs addressing the SDGs, 75% of them concentrate on the following five goals.

  1. SDG 9: Industry, innovation, and infrastructure (25%)
  2. SDG 11: Smart cities and communities (19%)
  3. SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy (19%)
  4. SDG 3: Good health and well-being (7%)
  5. SDG 12: Responsible production and consumption (5%)

My personal favorite SDG, Goal 6: clean water and sanitation, is not on this list. But that doesn’t mean it’s not as important as the others or that investments in innovations system-wide should stop. Rather, it means that these 5 SDGs are the most lucrative from a private sector standpoint. 

IoT and SDG Challenges: Barriers to Success

Traditionally, there are two main challenge areas for implementing IoT in the context of the SDGs: technical barriers and commercial funding roadblocks. 

Technical Barriers

Many of the technical barriers to IoT have to do with the lack of interoperability in various solutions and equipment.

Traditionally speaking, a lot of the IoT software solutions on the market can only work with certain types of hardware, sensors, or machines.

When software only supports closed systems of hardware, customers are locked into IoT systems that are not necessarily the right solution for their needs and requires them to purchase hardware and equipment that can be very expensive.

Additionally, what happens if the software/hardware company behind these IoT investments goes out of business or stops making the products that you use? Not only is your software provider for the system lost, you’re now in possession of hardware that can’t be used anymore because it is not compatible with any other IoT platforms.

In the real world, IoT initiatives will only be successful if they’re able to be maintained and updated no matter what hardware is being used.

That’s why, here at Temboo, we democratize IoT by supporting data collection from many different types of machines and sensors in a format that gives you the power to optimize and customize your service. For more information on how to get started with our Kosmos IoT System, feel free to contact us or check out Kosmos on your own.  

The impact of IoT has been transformative, and I mean legitimately so…not just hyperbole. From how we get from place to place (thanks to GPS and Siri), to how we reduce our personal GHG emissions (using Skype or Zoom to have remote meetings), to how we take control of our own health (with wearable tech that monitors various bodily systems). The possibilities are quite literally endless…and we have only just begun to realize the potential. Democratizing data is the key to lasting, sustainable development.

-Daniel Bena, Globally-recognized Water Steward and award winning PepsiCo Executive

Commercial Funding Barriers

95% of IoT projects are in the small to medium scale range, and this is largely due to the IoT market being in its infancy.

Early adopters of IoT and their socio-economic and environmental benefits in the 5 most lucrative sectors will pave the way for implementations in the 11 other, equally as important, SDGs. 

IoT and the SDGs - WEF

Examples of IoT Paving the Way to Reaching the SDGs

SDG 11: Smart cities and communities (19%)

Combined sewer overflow (CSO) is a deadly source of pollution and a huge financial burden in both the developed and developing world.

Kansas City recently spent $505 million to prevent CSO from entering the Missouri River. They’re doing this with over 300 environmental monitoring sensors deployed in their 2,800-mile sewer pipe network covering 318 square miles.

This progressive move to mitigate CSO, means that Kansas City now has the world’s largest smart sewer network which is estimated to save them $1 billion in the coming years. 

SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy (19%)

Chattanooga’s Electric Power Board (EPB), deployed smart grid technologies aimed at monitoring the city’s electric grid in the 1990s.

Over the years, the project has expanded to include 170,000 smart meters for electricity customers and 2,000 smart switches to help reroute power during outages.

The result? After a severe weather event in November 2016, EPB announced that its smart grid had “helped keep the power on for about 90% of Chattanooga’s electricity users“. Smart grid automation either prevented or automatically restored more than 23,000 customer outages. 

wind turbine surrounded by grass

SDG 3: Good health and well-being (7%)

IoT and healthcare are becoming increasingly intertwined. Take, for example, smart watches. Many people don’t realize that these are a prime example of IoT technology in the real world.

That smartwatch has a sensor that is taking in your body’s heart rate, sending it to the cloud where it is being analyzed, and then sending that information back to your wrist. 

To take it step further, look at neuron therapy. Doctors are using IoT for real-time analysis of neuron rehabilitation in patients. With access to real-time data, doctors can now create holistic, personalized therapy care programs for any patient regardless of their location.

A Connected World is a Sustainable World

The beautiful takeaway of IoT is that connects the physical world to the internet.

The Result? Our day to day lives are far more integrated that they have been in our 0.2 seconds of existence.

By making improvements in one SDG, say SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), we’re also making improvements in SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being), SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), and so on.

Technologies that help us reach these goals will improve lives for future generations, while providing positive commercial and economic growth in the private sector.

So what are you waiting for? Get in touch with us today to see how IoT can help your company become more sustainable, profitable, and efficient. After all, we only have one planet, and time is of the essence.

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Posted by:Briana Garcia, Product Outreach

Briana is on the Product Outreach team at Temboo. She helps industries harness the power of IoT to obtain a greater data insight into their system - be it to enhance their resource management, improve their operational efficiency, or find new areas of growth. She is personally passionate about connecting the human-made world with the natural environment with IoT to create real, long-term sustainability with regards to water quality, energy usage, and circular economy.