5 March 2020

IoT and sustainability: Five use cases with environmental benefits

IoT technology is becoming prevalent in almost every industry, enabling previously unfeasible ideas to be realised. The global IoT market was valued at a staggering $193.6 billion last year, and it is estimated that this value will rise to $657.31 billion by 2025. 

The rise in IoT adoption not only leads to significant cost savings but crucially generates a wide range of environmental benefits. Smart technology has the potential to be transformative on a global scale, making huge improvements to efficiency and sustainability. Below are just a few examples of IoT use cases with environmental benefits.

  • Air Pollution

IoT allows air pollution to be monitored in real-time, enabling sources of pollution to be identified promptly and accurately. For example, gas leaks can be immediately detected and remedial action can be undertaken. Once pollution sources are identified, preventative strategies can be formed.

IoT can also help to reduce air pollution in the automotive sector. AI-enabled traffic lights can adjust automatically to the volume of traffic, reducing the number of idling cars which are a major source of greenhouse emissions.


  • Agriculture

IoT can be used to monitor crops and soil to maximize crop production whilst maintaining a low impact on the environment. Sensors are attached to crops to monitor their growth, allowing anomalies to be detected and resolved immediately. 

Parameters such as hydration, nutrition and disease can also be monitored in real-time. This data can subsequently be used to form adaptive irrigation systems which determine the most efficient watering patterns. For example, Agrisource Data claims to have saved more than 750,000,000 liters of water and increased average yield by nearly 10%. 


  • Wildlife

Species extinction and loss of biodiversity can have a potentially devastating impact on our planet. IoT can be used to study animal behaviour, including migration, mating, and feeding habits.  By monitoring endangered species, we can determine factors that threaten particular animals, such as deforestation and poaching. 

Large forest areas can be monitored and protected using AI-enabled drones. The data that is collected can then be used to map the area and monitor any significant changes that take place. This enables alerts to be triggered when uncontrolled deforestation takes place. Another area in which IoT can be used is to prevent poaching by monitoring known poaching paths. Cameras or motion sensors can also be used to monitor known poaching paths and reduce poaching activities significantly.


  • Water

IoT can be used to help assess factors that harm the ocean, such as illegal fishing, illegal solid waste disposal and discharging industrial effluents into water bodies. IoT technology can also help improve access to clean water by reducing leakages and monitoring water quality.

For example, in the US city of South Bend, IoT sensors in the sewer system monitor water levels and redirect wastewater. According to Indiana University, this system has prevented at least 3.8bn litres of raw sewage from entering the river each year.


  • Waste

When IoT technology is applied to waste management, it can become far more efficient. Sensor-enabled bins can collect information on fill level, temperature and location. Waste collectors can then get an automated route planned for them that has prioritized areas in urgent need of collection.

This not only reduces fuel consumption but can also facilitate insightful long-term plans. For example, planning better distribution of bins, highlighting incorrect disposal practices and reducing the amount of waste going to landfill.


How is this done?

By having the ability to connect almost any sensor device to one single platform, data is transformed into a power decision making tool. This enables all of these possibilities to become a reality, bringing significant environmental benefits.

With IoT, we can make the world smarter and more sustainable.


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