The Role of IoT in Environmental Sustainability

Photo concept of IoT / Photo via Getty Images Bank


The environment has been riddled with challenges since time immemorial, with incidences such as pollution and deforestation being reported all too frequently. Technology itself has been a key player in the deterioration of environmental conditions. The World Economic Forum network lists factors such as increased CO2 emissions, water pollution, and even poor mental health among young adults caused significantly by technological production processes. 

The stage is set to change for technology, however, as researchers and developers look for ways in which technological innovation can be directed towards the conservation of our environments rather than just being a factor. In the eyes of Tech Target’s Ritesh Mehta, IoT technologies are “perfect for environmental stability.” Sure enough, there are developmental strategies that have been set in place which provide a promising future where technology will be implemented to identify potential environmental risks and aid in preventing them before they are exacerbated. Below are some of the promising prospects which could help in the conservation of the environment through IoT technology.

Using real-time data to curb deforestation

Deforestation is among the top-listed facilitators for environmental degradation. According to Isabel Harner of the “IoT for All” network, deforestation accounts for up to 15 percent of carbon emissions globally. However, she emphasizes that IoT can and is already being experimented on to help in curbing the problem of illegal logging. Citing companies such as The Rainforest Connection, Isabel elaborates on the sensors which are being developed specifically for detection of logging activities. “The sensors listen for certain sounds that are associated with illegal logging… like a chainsaw or a large vehicle in an unauthorized area,” she notes. The sensors which will detect these sounds can then send signals to authorities who will be deployed to the zones immediately.



The Internet of Bees

Bees are among the biggest contributors to environmental conservation, but research shows that their population is decreasing and that negative impacts are being felt. With the implementation of IoT, bees can be carefully monitored to identify triggers of population growth and reduction. Citing technology from The Bee Corp, Harner explains how they utilize battery-powered sensors placed within the hive to identify the ideal condition for factors such as egg production and development. The statistics collected from these sensors can help researchers and bee farmers to identify ways to optimize conditions for a maximum bee population within their environments. 

Air Quality Measurements

In corporate environments, workers can benefit from IoT technology through the implementation of air-tracking sensors to detect the changes in air quality within working spaces. A report by the Proud Green Building network elaborates how the productivity of workers has a direct correlation to the working spaces in which they reside. IoT sensors can be implemented in ventilation systems to identify when Co2 emissions within buildings are high and use that information to devise ways of letting in fresh air and keep workers at an optimum condition through working hours.

Emphasizing Individual Responsibility

Environmental conservation entails a lot of individual effort by human beings to keep their spaces clean and conducive. However, with the use of IoT, this sense of responsibility could be significantly heightened. “To help create a culture of community and commitment, business leaders must encourage their employees to take a stance in designing sustainability initiatives,” says Ritesh. A suggested way of fostering this responsibility is by implementing virtual reality to simulate environments in the future which have been affected by lack of proper conservation policies. By witnessing the magnitude of damage that can be done by the lack of proper environmental care, employees will be motivated to take individual steps towards environmental conservation.


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Technology Development Guidelines

The rapid development of technology has resulted in many loopholes in the law which sometimes make it difficult to maintain standards such as environmental ones. “Since technology develops faster than legislation, there’s a lack of unified environmental guidelines for emerging technologies,” notes Ritesh. Most development companies are also usually focused on cost-effective means of development which are more times negative to the environment than not. IoT can help by merging business objectives with government environmental policies to generate development standards that ensure cost-effectiveness while significantly reducing the effects on the environment.

Poaching Control

Poaching has been a rising issue over the years, but with IoT, there could be hope of implementing technologies that will enable surveillance of vast natural environments and detect poaching activities. These technologies will reduce the hectic tasks of patrol and enable wildlife conservation to be an easier task.

Environmental changes have impacted a lot of factors in the way humans live. The use of IoT to identify ways of tackling these issues will enable easier management of environmental factors. They will also allow scientists to come up with better ways of production and development of technology in ways which will not adversely affect the environment.