The Impact of the Internet of Things on Sustainability
The Internet of Things — or IoT — is hooking up everyday things such as refrigerators and watches to the internet. It’s relatively new when you think of the lifespan of digital technologies. In recent decades, it has transformed the way that individuals do business, shop, communicate and lead their everyday lives. Wireless connectivity has weaved its way into every aspect our society increasingly year after year.
Need to figure out how to get to a specific location? You break out the GPS on your watch. You don’t even have to leave the house to do your grocery shopping anymore. It can all arrive at your door with the click of a button — delivered by a drone no less. But the IoT isn’t limited to just making your everyday life more convenient. It also has a great amount of untapped potential to contribute to a more sustainable society.
How Does IoT Contribute to Sustainability?
Apart from making daily life easier, IoT is about the connection of actual objects through the use of computer software, wireless networks and other electronic devices. With some of the most sophisticated technology at our fingertips, streamlining and efficiency can also be applied to sustainability initiatives in business, the environment and daily life. On the plus side, these types of advancements and innovations also end of saving you money.
Here are some ways IoT can help revolutionize the sustainability movement.
1. Energy Efficiency
Business and data centers are among the biggest energy users in the world. One way that can help make these centers more efficient is by transitioning to a smart grid system that works together with smart meters to manage energy distribution. Monitoring energy use will help make these operations more efficient. Reducing energy to what is required reduces pollution and helps the environment.
2. Smart Homes
The Internet of Things is also key in transitioning consumers from traditional household appliances to residences with smart thermostats and security systems. It’s a way for people to not only save money on their energy bills but also reduce their carbon footprint. This concept may not seem like much, but if you consider the exponential effect of, say, half the households in the United States, that becomes a very large amount quite quickly.
3. Parking & Transport
Even parking and transportation are seeing amazing innovations via IoT, and there’s a need for it. With the threat of climate change, increase in population and shrinking resources, IoT can help streamline all areas. In fact, a recent congress on this topic happened this year in Spain. It addressed IoT’s influence on topics from air travel efficiency to autonomous vehicles. The possibilities are incredible.
4. Urban Management
Smart transportation goes hand in hand with the expansion into other areas of smart cities and urban management. IoT has already had a huge impact on the waste management systems and the tracking of real-time CO2 emissions in cities like Seattle, for example. This particular initiative allows for each citizen to play an active role in contributing to environmental sustainability.
5. Reducing & Managing Electronic Waste
Speaking of personal responsibility when it comes to sustainability, the small smart electronics consumers love so much have a very short lifespan — but are in high demand. IoT can help to transition the waste from obsolete technology into repurposed goods.
Not only would it save billions in untapped dollar-value in the repurposed items and components, but it would also cut down on the toxic disposal that is involved in e-waste and help with environmental management. This can all be done via technology developed to register and signal the life cycle of an electronic device.
IoT can be applied in the agricultural field as well to increase food production — extremely important with regard to the growing population. It can also help farmers more easily monitor their soil nutrients, which is important for compliance purposes or dehydration. In so many words, smart sensors allow the farmer to stay connected to their fields from a distance and also anticipate how they can better mitigate disease or increase yield.
The Future of IoT in Sustainability
These examples of how IoT can help make a sustainable future more accessible are singular in their own right but also interconnected. That is the nature of smart technologies, and one of the fundamental components of why it works with sustainability principles. Sustainability is a concept based on synergistic relationships of economy, society and the environment.
IoT is one of the best options available to businesses and individuals looking to begin the transition to a more sustainable world. This will take some major changes throughout various industries, which may not always be easy.
However, one argument for sustainable initiatives is that ultimately, they are money-saving endeavors, and in business the bottom line is always the deciding factor. IoT has the potential to increase profitability and savings even further in the future — which bodes well for the type of innovations you’ll see in years to come.