Why IoT is necessary for sustainability
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An expert's take on how IoT will power the cities and habitations of future


Prasun Agrawal

 

Today, Internet of Things (IoT) is an integral part of our life. The concept of improving the overall energy performance through monitoring and control, enabled by sensing and tracking, is leading to multitude of savings. This is happening at various levels starting from individuals to households to societies to communities to industries to cities.

 

The sensing of data is for different application kinds. These applications include measurement of vibration, pressure, flow levels, temperature, humidity, current, voltage, switch on/off, door open/close, luminance. The applications also include tracking of humans, pets, fleet and things in general for location accuracy.

 

Sensor nodes, involving bundling of multiple sensors together, leads to creation of IoT 'sensing' solutions. To elaborate, an environment monitoring solution would involve measuring air pollution, soil moisture and water quality. A logistics solution would involve locating the item, tracking of fleet and condition quality of the shipment. A smart parking solution would involve providing parking space availability, toll fee management and guidance mechanism. A smart building would involve lighting control, indoor air quality control leading to energy management. A home automation would involve measuring energy use and water use and integrating surveillance systems for intrusion detection. An intelligent retail solution includes interactive multimedia for enhanced customer experience, supply chain control and product management solutions or the retail store.

Some of the immediate use cases in the industry for IoT products include Chain store monitoring, data center environment monitoring, intelligent agriculture, smart factories / production line controls.

A retail chain store like Hyper-city, Wal-Mart, Food Bazaar rely on stable environments to preserve goods and ensure food quality. The information on status of refrigeration leads to both preservation of goods by avoiding product spoilage, and also impacts electricity costs. IoT enables capturing real time information related to temperature, refrigerator compressor and pressure, humidity and light. IoT allows transmitting this data via the existing wireless environment of the retail chain, allowing the refrigerators to be monitored, maintained, adjusted, thus leading to reduction in energy consumption cost.

 

A Datacenter has a critical requirement to monitor the environmental operating parameters. Overheating of servers leads to entire system shutdown. IoT enables continuous monitoring of temperature, humidity, door status, switch status etc. This prevents accidental data server fault and ensures maintenance of environment of the rack.

 

IoT enables intelligent agriculture by monitoring the growth progress of seedlings and providing insights for future production cycles. The illumination levels, temperature levels along with effect of the nutrient concentration solution monitoring, logged with pH value and electric conductivity (EC) sensors leads to food traceability statistics. Optimum amount of water distribution ensures water savings along with enriched top-soil quality promoting plant health.

 

The smart factories and clean rooms require a complete dust-free high quality environment to ensure minimal/no effects on the product. IoT enables monitoring and control for environmental pollutants such as dust, airborne microbes, aerosol particles, and chemical vapors. IoT helps not only in clean room environment but also to improve overall equipment effectiveness. The real time information on temperature, humidity, machine status, door status and dust sensors leads to continuous product lines.

 

An IoT enabled city bike sharing solution, for both pedal bicycles and electric bicycles, leads to convenience for citizens and has a direct impact on health leading to happiness. Sustainability is built into this solution, as usage of bicycles leads to reduced dependence on fossil fuel based modes of transportation, but convenience and health are the primary factors for deployment of bike sharing solutions.

 

The projections of IoT trends indicate 50 billion devices to be interconnected by 2020 and with key segments like industrial automation, energy & utilities, transportation, building automation, and medical services requiring new approaches to improvements in efficiency and reduction of cost, IoT will clearly lead to more sustainability.

 

  The author is founding partner with Gaia Smart Cities