We’re living during a revolutionary period of innovation, in which we’re able to harness the potential of smart cities, connected cars and wearable devices. However, none of this would exist if it weren’t for the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) – it has transformed the way humans and devices connect and interact with each other through a single, strong network.
According to Gartner, there will be over 14 billion connected things by the end of 2019, and over 25 billion by the end of 2021.
From slowing down the potential apocalyptic progression of climate change to addressing agricultural issues to managing waste, IoT is silently solving some of the world’s most pressing challenges.
This article discusses the role of IoT in solving the four most important current global issues.
The top 4 global issues that IoT solves:
- Climate Change
- Water Crisis
- Agricultural Concerns
- Waste Management
Climate change is one of the most threatening global issues that we’re currently facing, and this is because of our failure to effectively respond to it at the right time.
While it may not seem like much is being done to safeguard the environment, many organizations are turning to IoT to reduce the adverse effects of climate change and other ecological hazards.
A report by Ericsson indicates that Interconnected Communication Technology (ICT) like IoT can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 15 percent by 2030.
IoT climate change solutions can help reduce the effects of climate change by allowing us to tackle:
- Energy Consumption
- Air Pollution
- Carbon Dioxide Emission
One of the main factors that accelerates climate change is the excessive consumption of energy. IoT-powered asset condition monitoring (ACM) systems, smart grids and smart meters are a great way to manage or even automate energy savings.
ACM systems provide huge benefits when it comes to energy efficiency. They can monitor the asset data in real-time to generate targeted analytics that indicate if there’s an inefficient operation. Proactive actions can then be taken to eradicate inefficiencies.
Smart grids and meters are a boon in the case of saving electricity – A smart grid is an electricity network where IoT devices are used to establish communication between suppliers and consumers, allowing suppliers to manage demand, look after the distribution network, save energy and reduce costs.
Similarly, a smart energy meter is an electricity tracking meter that provides people with their electricity consumption data (e.g. data about high-energy usage peaks), which help them make better electricity consumption-related decisions.
Perceived as a modern-day curse, air pollution is another critical factor that has been damaging the climate of our planet. Some of the events that have caused the pollution increase are fast urbanization, rapid industrialization and a dramatic increase in automobiles.
IoT applications can help reduce air pollution through real-time monitoring of air quality. This can be achieved by scattering small, low cost, mobile-enabled sensors across cities from street lights to bicycles and public transport, providing a broader picture of air quality levels.
Furthermore, this real-time data can be analyzed to unveil causes and fluctuations in air pollution. It can be sent to the public through apps, giving them a clear understanding of the pollution levels they’re living with and how they can work on reducing pollution.
Carbon Dioxide Emission (Due to Traffic Congestion)
Surface transportation is a large source of greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore a large contributor to global climate change.
IoT can help reduce CO2 gas emissions from vehicles through smart traffic management. The idea here is to fetch data from various sources like traffic cameras, vehicles’ GPS, sensors, etc. and utilize it to analyze and understand traffic patterns.
For instance, by establishing a connection between vehicles’ GPS and traffic cameras, the area’s management team can gain helpful insights about the real-time traffic. Furthermore, a message can be delivered to vehicle owners to notify them about the traffic status of the route they’re traveling. This results in a pleasant traffic experience, a significant reduction in traffic jams and secure transportation.
Water is one of the basic necessities required for our survival. Unfortunately, many nations are facing problems related to water conservation, management and distribution, and the figures are increasing at a rapid pace.
According to the United Nations, water usage has been growing at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century. Furthermore, by 2025, an estimated 1.8 billion people will be living in regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world’s population could be living under water-stressed conditions.
By providing greater insight into both the supply and demand of water, IoT helps facilitate the smart governance of the water ecosystem.
For instance, sensors can be deployed in dams, reservoirs and tanks to monitor the water levels in real-time. The data obtained can be sent to a server at regular intervals in order to calculate the amount of water utilized. This is one of the most helpful water conservation strategies.
IoT can also help address water crises through smart irrigation i.e. monitoring irrigation through remote sensing technologies. Smart sensors can be deployed in the farm soil to measure the level of moisture. Next, data about the moisture level can be transferred to the smart sprinkler. Based on the provided requirement, it can start sprinkling the right amount of water upon the soil.
Agriculture is the oldest of all the industries and one of the riskiest businesses. Issues such as rapid population growth, dietary shifts, resource limitations and climate change have constantly proved to be the roadblocks for farmers who need to produce more with less.
Managing these roadblocks is difficult without precise monitoring and accurate forecast. This is where IoT development comes to the rescue!
Farmers can implement IoT by deploying sensors wherever necessary (e.g. on the ground, in water, in farm equipment, in tractors, etc.), to collect data about factors such as soil moisture and crop health.
The data collected can be stored on a server or cloud, which can be accessed by farmers on the go. This provides farmers with a smart, data-driven approach to maximize their yields and reduce waste.
Managing waste has become a topical issue in various parts of the world as it affects the overall health of society. Most of the municipal corporations and waste management services providers follow traditional methods of waste collection and disposal, which are inevitably inefficient and resource-intensive.
IoT is beginning to gather interest from the waste management industry as it’s realized that IoT-based smart waste collection solutions are the need of the hour. These solutions track waste levels and provide route optimization and operational analytics.
According to a report from Navigant Research, the global smart waste collection technology market is expected to exceed $223 Million in 2025.
Basically, a smart waste collection solution consists of:
- a couple of sensors that monitor fill level and temperature within the waste container
- a communication node to transport data
- a software suite to access, manage and analyze that data
Its helps waste management services providers to:
- optimize waste management services
- reduce operational costs
- effectively address the environmental issues associated with inefficient waste collection
Indeed, IoT is paving the way for smart climate change solutions to some of the most critical global problems. As the technology evolves, these solutions continue to become sophisticated, contributing to the better health of our planet.