We’ve all heard about the warning signs: shrinking polar ice caps and rising sea levels, holes in the ozone layer, and record warm temperatures, just to name a few.
Taking care of the environment is more important and urgent now than it ever has been.
How can we use the technology of the internet of things to keep the environment safe for future generations? And why aren’t more companies tackling this issue?
According to a report from Applied Sciences:
Research and policies concerning the IIoT have so far mainly focused on economic benefits and ways of supporting the implementation of IIoT in companies and different branches as well as on technical aspects like finding solutions for standardization or data security. At present, only a few scientific projects and studies deal with the implication of the IIoT for sustainable development but recently the linkages between digitalization and sustainability are attracting more and more attention.
Specifically in the industrial sector, there are many opportunities to help achieve a green economy through IIoT applications. In honor of Earth Day, let’s take a look at some of the ways that IoT can contribute to a more sustainable planet.
Reducing Water Waste Through Smart Agriculture
According to the WWF, the agricultural sector consumes about 70% of the planet’s accessible freshwater which is more than double the amount consumed in industry and municipal use.
It’s at the point where many countries, including the US, China, India, and Pakistan are closer than ever to reaching their renewable water resource limits.
What’s causing this waste? The top issues are leaky irrigation systems, wasteful field application methods, and cultivation of crops that are not suitable for their environment.
While solving all these problems completely is hard to do, there are simple IoT solutions available to reduce the impact of water waste in agriculture.
Farmers can keep their crops healthy while reducing excess watering practices by using a soil moisture sensing system to ensure that crops receive the correct amount of water. Additionally, they can set up automated sprinkler systems to only turn on if needed, so that crops don’t get watered after a rainstorm, for example.
These small additions to farming practices could have a big impact on the global community at large. Places like that suffer from droughts, like California, can use connected sensor systems to help prevent water shortages, as well as reduce the economic impact that droughts have on the agriculture industry.
Preventing Food Recalls With IIoT
In 2017, the USDA issued 131 recalls that resulted in over 20 million pounds of food going to waste.
Food recalls are detrimental to the health of consumers and have a negative economic impact on the companies that produce, process, package, and transport the food to various locations.
Additionally, food that is left to rot in landfills accounts for nearly 25% of the methane emissions in the United States.
Globally, about one third of all food produced for human consumption goes to waste and the United States is the number one country in the world that wastes food.
Implementing simple temperature monitoring and alert systems can help solve these problems. By making sure food is stored and transported at the correct temperature, producers can reduce the likelihood of spoilage and the recalls that result from it.
These systems can also send an alert when an environment is too hot or cold for the food so that the issue can be handled swiftly.
An additional benefit is the data logging capabilities afforded with these systems, which can be used for compliance checks and risk detection efforts.
Smart Buildings For Sustainability
When you head to the office every day, you probably aren’t thinking about the impact that your building’s energy use has on the environment. But according to the US Energy Information Administration, commercial buildings account for nearly 20% of US energy consumption and 12% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the country.
By connecting electrical and mechanical systems in buildings to the cloud, they’ll be able to reduce energy use by communicating with each other and switching off and on as needed. For example, smart building systems can detect when an area is less populated and reduce the heating or cooling in that part of the building.
Siemens’ Crystal building has connected systems for heating, air-conditioning, lighting, fire alarm and evacuation systems, and more. The offices in the Crystal produce about 70% less CO2 than comparable office buildings in the UK and the building is considered to be one of the most efficient in the world.
Cutting Down On Natural Gas Waste With Connected Sensors
Natural gas is a valuable resource as we work towards a future of clean energy sources. However, oil and gas operators often needlessly waste methane, the main component of natural gas, due to leaks which can be hard to detect given that methane is colorless and odorless.
By implementing gas line monitoring systems, oil and gas operators can get alerted of previously undetectable leaks and remotely control valves to prevent further leakage.
The Environmental Defense Fund has kicked off multiple efforts to combat natural gas waste as well which you can learn about here.
Working Towards A Brighter Future
There are many other ways that IoT technology can have a positive impact on the future of the planet, from keeping vaccines stored at correct temperatures, to preventing leaks in underground storage tanks, and more.
It’s up to us to use emerging technologies not only for personal gain, but also to contribute to the global community at large.
If you’re interested in implementing any of the solutions outlined in this post, contact us for more information on how to get started today.