How This Technology Can Help Save Our Planet

Source: BBC Blue Planet

If you haven’t listened to the news lately or if you missed the urgent message of the BBC Blue Planet Documentary, I may have some shocking news for you. The natural resources in our environment are running out and at the same time our natural resource consumption is growing. Moreover, the increase in consumption will result in more waste that returns into our environment.

Companies are becoming more aware of this challenge and are trying to find solutions. Starbucks for example, is recycling coffee waste and is reusing the coffee grounds for the growth of plants. The retailer Walmart started a food donation program to reduce food waste. These initiatives are all contributing to the transition towards a Circular Economy (CE). CE is an economic system in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible and waste is eliminated. But these incremental changes are not enough.

Luckily, we are at the dawn of a new era. Cutting edge technologies are being developed and used worldwide to increase circularity. One of the technologies that is opening tremendous opportunities is the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT refers to the interconnection of everyday objects, which are equipped with software, sensors and other forms of intelligence. Here are four initiatives that make use of IoT to make the world a cleaner and more sustainable place:

Energy flow management

The energy sector could be one of the most successful sectors for the implementation of IoT. Take for example the company Philips. They changed their business model and relationship with their customers by offering lights as a service instead of a product. By using the IoT technology, the lightening can be monitored and controlled online. This way the company can track the location of their products and manage their inventory. Furthermore, they can improve their energy flow management and the maintenance schedule of the products.

By partnering with other leading technology and communications providers we can offer end-to-end connected lighting solutions for smart cities, smart buildings, smart retail and smart homes — Philips

Digital identity of consumer products

IoT technology is also used to make consumer products smarter and more sustainable. The company EVRYTHNG has developed smarter packaging that makes products more intelligent, interactive and trackable. Household items like clothing, consumables and groceries can all be connected through IoT which will increase the interaction with the consumer. Packaging can be tracked throughout the value chain, which provides opportunities for recycling or reusing.

Smart and circular buildings

The amount of smart buildings around us are rapidly increasing. Smart buildings often make use of IoT technology to become more efficient, improve the health and safety of the people in the building and improve their productivity. This results in a reduced impact on the environment. Epicenter recently opened a new smart and circular office in Amsterdam. The IoT technology is integrated in different elements of the building, such as the ceiling, meeting rooms and desks. This way the company can control the CO2 levels within the building to ensure productivity and monitor how busy the office is at certain times.

Smart and circular cities

Currently we are experiencing an explosive growth of smart and circular city applications. In North America we see several cities that are using traffic signals and sensors to regulate the flow of traffic through the cities. This allows them to reduce the congestion by creating efficient traffic flows in response to the demand at that time. This will result in a reduction of pollution and creates a more efficient system. Sensors can for example be placed in traffic lights. If the sensor measures the maximum amount of cars in front of the light, it can prioritise the light to avoid pollution and congestion.

There are many more sectors where the IoT can be applied to ensure a more circular environment, such as agriculture, engineering and consumer electronics. Even though the popularity of the technology is increasing, there are some concerns towards the security of the data.

Leading analysts and researchers agree that security is among the top challenges facing the IoT today. With so much connectivity and data flowing through so many interconnected systems, how do you keep everything secure? — Philips

What do you think: Will IoT technology play a major role in building a sustainable future?