Climate change is the political and social issue of our era. Public and private sector organisations alike need to work together to find solutions – and fast.
The Internet of Things (IoT) could play a substantial role in many different climate change initiatives – for several different reasons.
First, IoT ecosystems are fundamentally designed to collect data en masse, in an efficient and cost-effective way – which opens up new possibilities for data collection and analysis in relation to key climate change statistics. Measuring environmental conditions at multiple different places across a vast area, for example, can help scientists learn new lessons about how the climate is changing and how this might affect weather patterns, agricultural yields and so on.
Second, IoT ecosystems are fundamentally designed to identify process bottlenecks and possibilities for new process efficiencies – which, in turn, helps organisations to be more energy-efficient. This is a core tenet of the battle against climate change, and the IoT can help enable it from the level of individual homes up to entire cities.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the specific ways in which the IoT can help fight climate change.
These are now so well-known that it is easy to forget they are part of the Internet of Things – or that they are one of the most effective means of fostering energy efficiency in homes and businesses. Smart meters enable the intelligent conservation of energy, and better predictions of future energy needs – from the level of individual households up to entire cities. In turn, this enables utilities companies, homes and businesses alike to drive greater efficiencies in terms of how they use and allocate energy.
Heavy industry and sectors such as manufacturing are some of the biggest contributors to climate change. They produce huge amounts of carbon dioxide, as well as other so-called greenhouse gases. Anything which can help them operate in more energy-efficient and cleaner ways is hugely powerful – and the industrial IoT, or IIoT, does exactly that. Placing sensors throughout the assets on a factory floor or production line enables process bottlenecks to be identified and mitigated, faulty machines to be isolated and repaired, pollutants and leaks to be spotted earlier – and all with a great deal of automation.
Climate change is impacting the global agricultural sector in myriad different ways. And likewise, the IoT is helping to combat those impacts in myriad different ways. From connected irrigation systems which enable vast fields to better cope with fluctuating rainfall or drought conditions, to sensors which can identify or even predict when wildfires might take hold, and therefore inform more proactive mitigation, to sensors which track the location of livestock and enable them to graze over wider areas, there are multiple applications of the IoT in the agricultural industry.
The transport sector is another significant source of pollution which contributes to climate change. Clearly vehicle electrification will have a substantial impact on this. But so too do technologies which enable fleets of vehicles to operate more effectively, rerouting around disruptions, taking the most efficient route and responding dynamically to demand. Connected fleets – that is, smart transport – enables all this.
Climate change truly is a global challenge, and fighting it requires an enormous amount of collaboration and innovation from all over the world. The IoT is a crucial part of the picture.