The Internet of Things in Environmental Protection

Klaudia Nawrot | Digital transformation | 05.12.2018

Internet Rzeczy w ochronie środowiska

Since the inception of the Internet of Things concept in 1999, networks connecting hundreds of intelligent objects have become part of everyday life. Different types of sensors receive and transmit data from almost every aspect of life. Numerous examples of the use of IoT in urban spaces were seen in action during the Smart City Expo World Congress, which took place in November 2018 in Barcelona. Bearing in mind the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24), which was recently held in Katowice, it is worth considering how technology can help us combat the destructive impact of human activity on the environment.

The Internet of Things is already widely applied in environmental protection. Here we are not only talking about a wide range of sensors that help to monitor the current state of the environment, but also about devices that help minimize the negative impact of the mining industry, by optimizing the extraction of raw materials and extending the lifecycle of the mines through more efficient mining. In this case, the automation of manual data collection and analysis processes leads to lower costs and risk of errors and threats.

Climate policy action was negotiated during this year’s climate summit in Katowice. Now more than ever before, Internet of Things can help you make the right decisions to improve safety and the state of the natural environment. The advantage of these solutions is the ability to collect an unlimited amount of data and analyze it in real time using data analysis tools, such as Power BI. Another important benefit of Internet of Things is the ability to adapt to the right type of network depending on the structure of the sensors.

Examples of the application of Internet of Things in environmental monitoring

  1. Monitoring air quality, the concentration of carbon dioxide and particulate matter, carbon monoxide and ozone in buildings.
  2. Monitoring water in terms of quality, pollution, thermal pollution, chemical leaks, the presence of lead, as well as the level of groundwater and flood conditions.
  3. Soil monitoring in terms of moisture and vibration levels to detect and prevent landslides.
  4. Monitoring forests and protected areas to combat fire risk.
  5. Monitoring the Earth’s crust for early detection of earthquakes or tsunamis.
  6. Monitoring fisheries in order to maintain the fish population and protect against poaching.
  7. Monitoring snowfall at ski resorts and in forests to track weather phenomena and prevent avalanches.
  8. Monitoring temperature and humidity.

The best network for monitoring the environment

Choosing a network for monitoring the environment using Internet of Things is one of the biggest challenges. As long as communication in cities is based on Bluetooth, BLE, WiFi, or Mesh topology, such as ZigBee, it should not be a problem as it is in non-urban areas, where it may not be possible to use such solutions. It is worth paying attention to the M2M and LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Networks) cellular network.

In the case of the former, we have to take into account the limited range in remote areas, as well as the high costs of investment and energy.

LPWAN networks are based on battery-powered sensors, including solar-powered ones. The long battery life allows the sensor to function without additional intervention for up to 10 years. The low power consumption, however, is connected with low data transfer speed, but as a trade-off it’s possible to send small amounts of data over long distances (from 500m to 10km). This solution is ideally suited, for example, for sensors in forests that only send data when smoke is detected. This represents something of a niche, and the investment costs of solutions such as this one may still be too high.

Unfortunately, at this point in time, there is no ideal solution that fully combines Internet of Things solutions with the need to monitor the environment. The most likely scenario will be the use of the 5G network, which will become one of the most important technological trends in the coming years. It has been announced that the first services and mobile devices supporting this standard will be introduced onto the market in 2019.

The author of the post is:

Key Account Manager (2019-2020)

Add comment: