28 August 2019
Mitigate climate change with the IoT

June 2019 set a global record as the hottest June in 140 years, said the latest monthly global climate report by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Intense heatwaves were experienced in Europe, with average temperatures in France, Germany, Italy and northern Spain as high as 18 degrees F above the normal range, but lots of cities across Asia, Africa and America faced the same issue.

Moreover, what about snowcaps and glaciers melting in the Arctic, or the Himalayas? Satellite data gathered by NASA suggested that these reservoirs may provide 35 to 75% less freshwater by 2100, putting drinking and irrigation resources at risk. We might quote many other examples, as there are plenty of disturbing consequences of climate change around the world.

A strong commitment and decisive actions are urgently requested from governments, corporations, communities and people – and smart technology can be an important ally to become more efficient in using energy and other natural resources, encourage sustainable behaviours and reduce any waste.

The business consultant and mentor Peter Drucker once said that we couldn’t manage what we can’t measure: that’s the idea behind the Internet of Things (IoT), the technological paradigm which is inspiring lots of organisations and enabling wider monitoring and control of their assets.

In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the IoT can improve productivity and efficiency in industrial factories: this paves the way to smart manufacturing and advanced asset performance management, at the same time it allows a stricter tracking of energy and water consumption, emissions and waste. Thanks to the IoT, we can operate highly sustainable production plants and couldn’t facilities, heading to zero footprint operations as many multinational companies are doing (from Siemens to Henkel, from Carl Zeiss AG to Renault, to mention a few).

Residential and public buildings are another promising domain for the IoT. Smart connected sensors can be implemented to collate real-time data across every function and system, including lighting, heating and cooling which account for most of the overall power consumption in buildings. For instance, the enCOMPASS project funded by the EU Commission is piloting a set of pervasive technologies – smart meters, home automation systems, sensing and mobile devices – to incentivise change for energy-saving both at collective and individual level. The project is expected to reduce energy consumption and related CO2 emissions up to 20-25% in private and public buildings, with a tangible return on investments in less than 2.5 years.

Moreover, what about IoT applications for smarter cities? Combining IoT-enabled sensors with AI-empowered algorithms, it becomes possible to improve quality and efficiency of any public service, from street lighting to urban transportation, from energy distribution to water supply, from solid waste collection to emergency response.

IoT might genuinely be the platform on which our future will be built, in the common struggle to mitigate climate change and its frightful impact.