Technology and our Environment

One thing we often overlook with technology is nature. Sometimes, we think the two forces are in direct opposition with each other, but that’s not the case with the IoT and in fact, it can actually help in a number of ways from crop management to helping with climate change. It can even be used to build more efficient dams! There are a number of possibilities from infrastructure to commercial that the IoT can help safeguard nature while improving our lives.

Let’s start with infrastructure using dams as our example. As you may or may not know, our dams are used for a variety of reasons from suppressing floods to providing water for irrigation, consumption, industrial use, aquaculture, and hydroelectric power. They work by storing a set amount of water and safely releasing excess so that pressure doesn’t build on the wall, causing it to crack and/or break.

How can the IoT help with this? There are a number of ways! Firstly, a sensor can be used to determine the height the water while another sensor determines the rate at which it’s growing. This will help to determine whether water needs to be released and how much needs to be at what rate. Sensors inside the pipes transporting the water can also be used to determine whether there are any leaks, which could cause catastrophic problems should they go unchecked.

How does any of this help the environment? Any failure in the dam could cause flooding in nearby areas including rivers or residential areas. Any change in an environment so suddenly will absolutely affect things like wildlife and soil. Since these sensors will be transmitting data in real time, there would be a much faster presence on-site should anything start failing which will help to prevent disaster.

If you’re more interested in how a commercial business could help more in the environment using the IoT, then I’ll talk about farming, which is objectively the most natural commercial business out there, and we’ll be starting from the ground up.

Soil is probably one of, if not the, most important things to a farmer. After all, I haven’t seen to many crops being grown on rocks… With a soil moisture sensor, you can determine exactly how much water each specific area of your fields should be getting, but that’s not all. On the market right now there are also sensors which can determine soil fertility — basically what minerals are in the soil you’re testing. These two factors are extremely important in proper crop growth and knowing when to farm what and when to give the field time to nourish itself and renew its soil.

How does this help the environment? Well, we’re not wasting good soil on the wrong plants or good water on an already overwatered onion. We’re also not having to go out ourselves as the process is made more autonomous, giving us more time and resources to dedicate elsewhere or to other crops. Also, with it being able to rain any time, we’ll be able to easily tell our watering systems exactly how much water is needed, meaning we won’t waste a single drop.

As you can see, the uses are varied and widespread, but a small change can help our environment drastically and can even help to prevent disaster. This technology will only become more advanced, too.

Efficiency using the IoT

Work harder.  Work faster.  Work smarter.  All those words wrap up into one thing — working efficiently.  The less you have to work at something, the more time you have on others, and that’s the whole point of the Internet of Things.

The IoT is designed to help automatise different aspects of a job or a task and give that information to you in real time.  It can be as simple as “how cold is this ice cream” or as complex as computing how much inventory ice cream is left, how fast the ice cream is being sold, how much time is expected of having that ice cream left, and then sending out a truck which will take just enough time to get there so that you’re restocked with your raspberry fruity twist ice cream, fresh and from the freezer just in time.

How this works is entirely specific to the industry though and can help in a number of ways.  For instance, if your company is exceptionally labour intensive then perhaps you’d do best in using the IoT to determine your own most efficient employees that get the most products out with the fewest mistakes.  A sensor in a conveyor belt determines how many products are sent out, and a sensor at whatever quality checking station you might have would help to determine their overall quality assurance.

Without this sort of system, you’re stuck with plain numbers written up by Bob, Joe, or Sue which they themselves got from the floor manager that happened to catch James over there slacking off.  It’s inefficient and frankly far from a perfect system.  But if you can look up at your computer screen in real time and see who’s sending out 50 boxes a minute compared to this guy doing only 4, then look back at previous records to see he’s been having poor numbers all week, then not only do you have a system that works, but you have a system that isn’t biased and is instantaneous.

If you’re using a system that focuses more on machinery, the IoT can help with that as well!  Whether it be setting up delivery times to be spot on with when the trucks are coming out and also speeding up or slowing down machine output speeds to correlate with rushed shipping, you can easily do it all with just a few clicks of a button.  See your inventory, see your production, see your trucks pulling up, getting stocked, and being away in mere minutes.  You can even have text alerts set up should a problem arise with one of your machines.

No matter what industry you work in, it’s almost a guarantee that it can be made more efficient with the help of the IoT.  Now’s the time to invest and reap the benefits for years to come.