The Future of IoT: Creating a Sustainable Planet

by Tammy Peters
Image Source: Pixabay

Many are aware of the perils that technology can bring, but not everyone is privy to how it can also be of significant help when it comes to protecting the environment. While some of today’s most pressing challenges have been brought about by tech, it’s also technological advances that have the potential to make the world a better place.

With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), there have been innovations springing up with the sole purpose of improving the state of the world. For instance, entire industries have been developed around generating clean energy like wind and solar. Even private organizations are promising to make drastic environmental contributions and transition to sustainable energy.

It is not a reach to say that the future of the IoT is in sustainability. Just take a look at how it can be used to create a more sustainable planet.

Water monitoring

There’s no denying that water is a powerful resource, a necessity for the continuation of life on earth. But even if everyone is aware of this fact, many individuals and industries are still unaware of proper water usage. For businesses and organizations, monitoring water levels is a must. This offers numerous environmental benefits and functions, as a reliable assessment helps companies meet their respective bottom lines. Luckily, the IoT can help various sectors do a better job in water level detection, productive water monitoring, efficient water regulation, managing chemical leaks, and more.

In terms of water quality monitoring (WQM), a cost-effective and efficient system is possible via the use of IoT technology. Businesses can employ several sensors to measure various parameters like pH value, the turbidity in the water, the level of water in the tank, temperature, and humidity of the surrounding atmosphere. This technology can help companies do away with manual detection of water quality where water samples are still needed to be obtained and sent for examination to laboratories – a process which is not only time-consuming but also costly. With the IoT, monitoring can be done in real-time, allowing organizations to make a move based on the results accordingly.

Better electricity management

While it might not seem like IoT tech will actually do much improve electricity management, it’s precisely what it will do — and what it is currently doing — for a lot of sectors. For starters, the IoT can be employed to improve energy efficiency and increase the share of renewable energy. It also contributes to reducing the environmental impacts of energy use, helping people drastically reduce their ecological footprint.

If you consider the latest technological advancements, you’ll see that the IoT will be especially useful in transitioning away from wasteful lighting tech (e.g. incandescent bulbs) and steer consumers towards a more efficient lighting system that makes use of the newest sustainable technologies. The New York state is at the forefront of this initiative, thanks to its state-wide upgrade program, Smart Street lighting NY. This program promises that 500,000 streetlights will be replaced with energy-efficient LED technology by 2025. On the micro-scale, it’s the continuously advancing metal core printed circuit board (MCPCB) technology that has, in large part, allowed for energy-saving capabilities in LED lighting. These MCPCBs can be used in aerospace, military, and yes, lighting technology. In conjunction with IoT tech, the MCPCB’s customizable size that prevents circuits from overheating frees up engineers and designers to dream up massive sustainable projects like the NY LED streetlights. Southern California also had a similar initiative installing LED streetlights in various locations, resulting in energy efficiency, accurate billing, Internet-of-Things (IoT)-enabled smart city applications, creative financing, and dark-sky friendly solid-state lighting (SSL).

Reduced property damage

The IoT can be directly responsible for making cities smarter, especially when it’s integrated into certain infrastructures. Given that many cities around the world are suffering from decaying infrastructure like worn out roads, deteriorating railroad tracks, and aging bridges and overpasses, the IoT can be a great help in mitigating these potentially life-threatening issues. This, in turn, makes the city a whole lot better and more eco-friendly. IoT technology can embed sensors in these structures to identify a vast spectrum of things, including the extent of degradation, temperature extremes, safety issues, daily traffic flow, and a whole lot more.

With sensors built-in, the city can have a better sense of how the interior of buildings can make better use of lighting, heating and air, how bridges could react to seismic forces, and how roadways are suffering from wear and tear. With IoT technology, cities and municipalities can be better equipped in monitoring the condition of their infrastructure and manage them better, resulting in improvements in safety, replacement costs and frequency, and much more.

Air quality monitoring and enhancement

Just like with water monitoring, IoT technology can heavily contribute to better air quality monitoring, which can, in turn, help the fight against air pollution. It’s no secret that the quality of air in the atmosphere is increasingly getting worse due to the emission of harmful gases, so real-time air quality monitoring systems are all the more important. Said systems can be applied in micro, small and medium industries so timely decisions can be made to prevent further environmental degradation.

Aside from sensors and cloud computing, one way of enforcing real-time air quality monitoring is through applications on smartphones. This is particularly innovative as it offers easy access to the public, giving them the ability to monitor real-time air quality in their area without having to access complex and expensive tools. Monitoring can be done through low-cost and readily available equipment, including dust sensors, carbon monoxide gas sensors, carbon dioxide gas sensors, and nitrogen dioxide gas sensors. Microcontrollers can be used to manage these sensors and function as transmitted to relay data to an online database. The information on air quality can then be accessed through smartphones in real-time.