How IoT can play a critical role in improving sustainability across industries

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At Pelion, we see IoT and sustainability as a natural combination of smart technologies and innovative thinking for a better future. The recent COP26 Climate Summit in Scotland brought many of the world’s leaders together to progress the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework convention on climate change. As concerns about global warming and its impact have taken an existential level of attention, this year’s event set four goals required to create substantial changes. 

These goals included a call for the global community to secure net-zero emissions by 2050 by phasing down coal use, minimizing deforestation and accelerating the transition to electric cars and renewable energy as well as to protect and restore ecosystems by building climate-resistance infrastructure, warning systems and mitigation policies. Countries and global organizations also were called upon to collaborate on the implementation of these goals to tackle the climate crisis.

While phasing down coal use and implementing electric cars are well-known initiatives in combating climate change, there is a key foundational technology that will help countries increase efficiencies and lower carbon usage – the internet of things (IoT).

The transformational power of IoT in sustainability

The IoT can be instrumental in building a more sustainable future. In fact, an analysis by the World Economic Forum in 2018 found that 84% of existing IoT deployments either address or can advance the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Recent advances in technology have allowed businesses across a multitude of industries to transform their sustainability initiatives. 

Here are three ways IoT technology and connectivity can help tackle climate change and create a global impact:

  • Reduce Energy Consumption: The leading cause of climate change is the excessive consumption of energy. Utilizing IoT, we can monitor, manage, and automate energy consumption, such as fuel. We can predict how much fuel is used and take measures to save, forecast inventory more effectively, and reduce waste through machine learning. This leads to better air quality and a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions globally. According to a research study by Ericsson, IoT and other emerging technologies can reduce global carbon emission by 15% in the next decade.
  • Decrease Food Waste. Food production is a resource-heavy industry. IoT devices can be used to collect and manage agricultural data and its unique supply chain. More than 1.3 billion tons – a third of all food products – go to waste every year. IoT sensors on shipping trucks can automate the delivery process, determining which foods get delivered first and allowing distributors to forecast inventory levels accurately. 

Pelion is supporting customers in their IoT-based sustainability efforts through its technology and solutions. For example, Pelion customer Sensize has made an impact through the adoption of Pelion’s multi-network global roaming SIMs, enabling the Cambridge-based start-up to help customers track shipments more efficiently. As a result, Sensize enables more effective usage of reusable containers that help reduce the waste in the supply chain. 

Another example of IoT technology helping customers reduce their footprint is through smart metering, a vital component in smart grid infrastructure. Smart metering enables utility companies to predict power consumption and reduce the cost of energy generation or acquisition. With the global transition to electric cars, there will be an increased need for consistent and responsible access to electricity. 

Similar methods also can be applied to smart building management. In the post-pandemic era, many employees will no longer work 9-5 in a commercial office building, meaning that companies will need to figure out how to reduce energy costs while keeping those workers who are onsite safe and comfortable through more intelligent heating and air conditioning systems, lighting solutions and more.

New and emerging connectivity technologies such as 5G, eSIM and even iSIM will further advance the IoT’s ability to deliver sustainability improvements in more use cases, they should also reduce the environmental impact of the technology itself. 5G will allow more things to be connected, allowing more intelligent use of resources and more efficient processes. 5G is also much more efficient at transmitting data than 4G and so will provide energy savings across the network. eSIM has multiple advantages, again it will mean more devices can be connected because of its smaller physical size and a chip eSIM also eliminates the need for the physical plastic SIM card currently used both in consumer and IoT use cases. iSIM takes this saving even further, eliminating the physical SIM entirely and further reducing physical device size.

The combination of these technologies which allow more things to be connected, more efficiently so they can deliver valuable data, alongside other emerging technologies such as AI and ML should provide a meaningful boost to the IoT’s ability to make a real difference. We believe that IoT will be a key foundational technology helping improve sustainability and slowing the negative impact of climate change across industries.


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