How Internet of Things will boost sustainability

Internet of things (IoT) can be defined as “a global infrastructure for the information society, enabling advanced services by interconnecting (physical and virtual) things based on existing and evolving information and communication technologies”. Year 2015 saw rise of IoT, several technological advancements connected physical objects through electronics, software and wireless networks etc. IoT successfully demonstrated that almost every business function can be automated to increase operational efficiencies. Key to this vision, is the development of 5G networks that promises seamless exchange of data between machines. The introduction of 5G and ever improving 4G services and seamless internet connectivity will be resulting in eradicating human errors, leaving systems to run, maintain and even autonomously improve themselves. IoT has potential to change the world same as the internet did. IoT can act as an umbrella for related technologies that can be used together to achieve exciting ends, and can be classified in terms  of contributing technologies, including the use of sensors, RFID chips, nanotechnologies and identification systems ( chips, cards, SIM’s).

IoT broadly will do all to improve systems and processes. In terms of sustainable development and sustainability IoT stands out clearly to have a significant impact on sustainable processes and give us a powerful tool to achieve a low carbon economy. As gradually the products, systems and devices will become smarter, they will have the ability to accumulate, analyze and share knowledge about the environmental impacts and consequences of certain human activities.  For example, by reducing the amount of energy and fuel needed to perform tasks and optimizing resource efficiencies, the IoT is expected to help reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 9.1 billion metric tons by 2020 (equivalent to 18.6% of global GHG emissions in 2011), according to a report by AT&T and the Carbon War Room.

Furthermore for example, Ericsson’s ‘connected water’ scheme, with the installation of smart water sensors in a river basin in Atlanta  allows the city to remotely monitor the quality of the city’s water, ensuring a cleaner water supply. Another interesting development is the smart cities alliance, that aims to build smart, sustainable cities using IoT innovations. One of the focus areas is smart transport with a potential to analyze the routes and traffic and allowing various modes of transport to communicate with each other, optimizing route and traffic data. The research on ‘self-drive smart cars’ can also be expected to show us a fleet of self-driving car operating as super-efficient taxis. With the recent establishment of new state capital in India for Andhra Pradesh,Amravati ; the potential with which the IoT innovation can be harnessed becomes massive.

IoT will drive #extreme automation and innovation. For example while spending my time trekking I thought of  a wireless intelligent charging station concept for devices (have written a separate post), that will eventually result in optimizing the power consumption and even give an option to choose the power source with ‘green power’. A network of wireless charging stations can use clean energy as its source for charging devices, users can create there account wherein they add credit to their smart charging account. The moment the device enters smart charging station, it will automatically optimize the power usage and switch to ‘green power’. This will in longer run reduce the conventional power usage thereby reducing the GHG’s and help in achieving sustainable growth.

Similarly a bit more complex concept, where machines take operational decision based on the insight of climate change models to optimize performance can also be considered (have written a separate post), For example, in recent shut down of industrial activity of a large corporate in Gujrat could have been avoided if they had installed a system that took decisions based on the predictive analysis of water usage pattern in the region. Considering the potential of IoT we are just about to enter the era of machine evolution which will be driven by innovation and automation.

It is estimated that there will be 28 billion connected devices on the planet by 2021, more than half of which will be machine-to-machine (M2M) or Internet of Things connections. These smart systems, alongside more efficient devices, could help cut global emissions by 15%. In terms of sustainable development and the sustainable development goals by UN I tried mapping  some of the MDG’s and SDG’s with suggested innovative ideas that use IoT. It will be interesting to see if some organisations use them for actual implementation.

 

 

Several experts have criticized the Internet of Things and have warned the amplified cyber-attacks and privacy concerns, however blue chip companies like Bosch, GE, IBM, Cisco are making big bets on IoT forecasting that these technologies will not just generate cost savings but will contribute to around 15 trillion USD to global GDP by 2020, accounting to more than 90 trillion in economic activity by 2025.

In my opinion when compared with today’s technology, that requires humans to input data, the intelligent devices connected the internet of things will be able to gather data on their own- tracking, counting, sensing and self-correcting. This data exchange will potentially create unprecedented efficiency in almost every aspect of our lives, from urban planning to transportation to agriculture to healthcare to energy response to intelligent manufacturing. It’s like starting of a new era which has endless opportunities and possibilities.

Please feel free to use my ideas to develop a commercial business model that helps in setting up social enterprises thereby benefiting people and planet. I  have posted two ideas I mentioned in my post separately. I will be very interested in hearing from individuals/organizations who want a brain storming on the concepts at nish at insightbynish.com or skype shree.nisheeth

Cheers!

Nisheeth

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