Businesses to Conserve Natural Resources Using Connected Devices
Connected devices, including mobile devices, can help capture a wealth of information about surrounding environments and identify potential threats. According to Readwrite, this practice can be applied to conserve natural resources.
Every day we see headlines about new smartphones, voice assistants and other gadgets that take entertainment to the next level and help us be more productive. However, those devices are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to unlocking the potential of the IoT. Consumers and businesses need to start thinking more about how they use the latest technologies to reduce their environmental impact and conserve natural resources for the benefit of everyone. Four key conservation and environmental issues the IoT is helping to solve are air pollution, water waste, noise pollution and wildfires.
Reducing Air Pollution, One Sensor at a Time
The estimated economic cost of air pollution is $1.72 trillion according to the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development). Pollution is linked to a wide variety of medical issues in people and animals, and can also cause serious harm to plants. Over the last century, countries around the world have made significant policy changes to curb air pollution and implement more sustainable practices. Tracking air quality is fundamental to understanding how pollution spreads and the impact of it on communities, giving businesses and governments the data they need to make informed decisions about how to mitigate air quality issues.
The problem with traditional air monitoring systems is that they are expensive and only capable of monitoring a limited range of parameters. The emergence of low cost, low maintenance sensors and gateways has enabled cities and businesses to deploy air pollution monitoring solutions at a massive scale, providing unprecedented insight into air quality. Deploying these sensors around roads, schools, industrial buildings, parks and other areas provides real-time measurements of air quality to map patterns, identify issues and make more strategic business and policy decisions.
Say Goodbye to Water Waste
Amid a variety of statewide droughts, public service announcements have worked hard to educate the public about the importance of conserving water and reducing water waste. However, even the most conscientious person might not be aware of water leaks in their home and how that’s contributing to their water bill. For businesses, the problem of water leaks is magnified. In an industrial warehouse or office building, the cost of water leaks can rapidly add up, not to mention the damage a ruptured pipe or other leak can cause if problems are left unchecked.
Connected sensors are an easy way that consumers and businesses can keep tabs on water usage to better understand their water footprint and reduce water consumption. Sensors can monitor water usage, in addition to tracking a building’s levels of humidity and temperature, to provide real-time analytics so anomalies can be quickly spotted and resolved. Costco Wholesale is not only committed to slashing prices, it’s also make incredible strides in cutting down its water usage. When Costco tested out the Apana water management system, the company saw a 20 percent reduction in water use and a 22 percent reduction in their water bills. Costco has since rolled out this water management system across the rest of its North America locations.
Curbing Urban Noise Pollution
Noise pollution is a persistent problem for residents in an urban environment. While municipal noise ordinances aim to reduce noise pollution, assessments of noise and monitoring are performed inconsistently and are primarily complaint-driven. With networks of low-cost acoustic sensors that enable continuous monitoring of noise in heavily populated and trafficked areas, cities now have access to valuable data to establish more effective noise regulations in the places that need them the most.
The city of Calgary, Canada has undertaken a number of smart city initiatives, including deploying sensors in certain areas to autonomously detect noise. Calgary has partnered with The Urban Alliance and the University of Calgary to use machine learning to distinguish between different types of noise – like construction, traffic, gunshots or music – and track that against the time and location where the noise event occurred. These sensors are helping the city to detect when noise thresholds have been hit to better respond to noise issues and improve residents’ quality of life.
Advances in Fire Detection Technology are Heating Up
Fires in the U.S. cause roughly $10 billion in property damage and injure or kill thousands of people every year. Historically it’s been challenging to monitor wildfires as they occur over wide swaths of land and move very quickly, plus cellular reception is often limited in those areas. As wildfires have become bigger and more commonplace in recent years, particularly in California, firefighters are relying more heavily on technology that helps them detect fires sooner and manage them better to keep people safe.
In fire-prone areas, fire management agencies are turning to sensors equipped with AI to measure environmental metrics like temperature, carbon dioxide levels and wind direction to detect the presence of a fire and predict where it will head. With these advanced monitoring systems in place, even a fire that started deep within a forest can be detected much more quickly so firefighters can put it out, minimize the environmental damage and save people’s lives.
Building a Greener World
The choices businesses and consumers make every day have a big impact on the health of the public and the environment. IoT devices will continue to play a pivotal role in identifying environmental issues and enabling us all to make changes to further our sustainability efforts.