Five Ways in Which the Internet of Things Is Helping the Environment

Connectivity, sensor technology and all things IoT are helping to create a greener world.
By JC Lazcano
Jun 11, 2017

Following a successful pilot program undertaken by Gemalto, engine technology and telematics provider Ashwoods Lightfoot and the Exeter City Council, the prospect of efficient, greener driving for everyday road users is becoming a reality. But it's not just driving that's feeling the environmental benefits of the Internet of Things' extensive reach, and the tech world is beginning to see IoT devices increasing energy efficiency in homes and on farms.

Here are five ways in which the IoT is helping to reduce strains on the environment:

1. Green On the Go
Intelligent, autonomous cars can usher in a new era of green driving by allowing cars on the road to communicate and process what other vehicles are about to do. This enables traffic to move at the same speed with only a few meters between vehicles, thereby reducing the fuel inefficiency brought on by the speed and gear changes of human-operated vehicles. IBM'S Watson IoT platform has been used to create a driverless car called Olli. The platform analyzes the vast amounts of data that come from the sensors in the vehicle, allowing it to accelerate, decelerate and change lanes without driver input.

2. Connected Wildlife
The IoT has been used with great success to bring species back from the brink of extinction. The Iberian lynx was re-established in Spain by using IoT technologies to track and monitor the few remaining wild lynxes. Using collars for geomapping the animal's location and habits, together with connected drones—which were much less invasive during tracking—scientists and wildlife experts were able to help re-establish the species.

3. Waste Not, Want Not
Leaving lights on, heating an empty house or heating up water that no one is going to use are all big wastes of energy. But smart and connected homes can prevent unnecessary energy usage. There are programs already available, like the Loxone Smart Home, that allow users to turn lights on or off and control temperature and boiler activity when occupants are out of the house. What's more, cars are also able to connect to homes, thus creating a wider array of efficiency-saving options.

4. Sensing Change
Sensors are more sophisticated than ever and can now be carried around with ease. There are a range of sensors that measure air quality and warn users through apps on their smartphones if the air is at dangerous levels or likely to cause asthma. This is not only helpful for users, but can also raise awareness of pollution and high emissions in populated areas. Similar devices are also used for working with radiation and miners. It's a good way of driving communities and governments to combat rising pollution levels.

5. Smarter Farming
Using smart sensors, farmers are able to reduce the amount of waste they produce, as well as monitor their agricultural processes, depending on weather, humidity, sunlight and other external factors. It's also possible to reduce the amount of water used to hydrate growing crops when a sensor discovers that the moisture levels in soil are just right. An IoT approach can help to reduce waste and increase energy efficiency in the farming world.

JC Lazcano is the VP of machine-to-machine sales for North America at Gemalto.

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