What is the Role Of IoT in Sustainable Development?
2030 is an urgent timeline for member states to achieve the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To make meaningful progress, signatories should examine the role of IoT in sustainable development and the impact of digital innovation on providing for the future.
The achievement of these goals is rife with social, environmental, and economic challenges. These include eliminating global poverty, combatting climate change, and creating more equal societies.
What is the role of IoT in sustainable development?
As resources diminish and populations grow, it is clear that traditional approaches to these problems are limited in their success. It is time to get smarter and digital innovations like the internet of things (IoT) could provide the data to design blueprints for sustainable development, identify areas of attention and monitor progress, and strategise around changing circumstances into the future.
In this blog, we have created an overview of some of the ways IoT and smart technologies work towards achieving the 17 SDGs. Applied at individual, industrial, and nationwide levels, these scalable, flexible solutions have very powerful potential to accelerate progress on SDGs and work towards peace, partnerships, and prosperity for people and the planet.
Hunger and poverty
There are more than 8 billion people in the world today. This figure is expected to rise to 9.7 billion by 2050. The world’s population is also getting older. Feeding this growing population needs to happen within the context of ever-reducing space for agriculture and food production (and expanding cities), climate change challenges, food safety concerns, and sound distribution models. That means operating within a culture of precision agriculture – one that eliminates wastefulness and maximises yields.
Smart farming through real-time data monitoring, data collection and analysis, and reporting allows for optimised irrigation, soil monitoring, fertiliser application, remote crop yield management, livestock management, and asset management. Through real-time, full-farm visibility, farmers are given important tools to reduce and manage illness and improve safety and production.
The collection of data means more powerful forecasting and predictive capabilities, risk mitigation, improved warehousing, storage, and logistics. It also gives farmers the flexibility to adapt to changing weather conditions through digital modelling and condition monitoring. Every leg of the supply chain stands to be affected – with scope for fine-tuned resource allocation and usage.
According to the FAO, 1.3 billion tonnes of edible food is wasted globally every year. In addressing the optimal use of agricultural land, this means that 28% of the world’s agricultural land is used to produce wasted food. Food waste also creates environmental concerns that impact on climate change. Food waste has the potential to be minimised by detailed analysis of supply and demand, transport and storage conditions, and smart food industry cold chain management.
Health and wellbeing
More connected healthcare systems are more productive healthcare systems. Smart healthcare asset management means improved access to healthcare. As populations grow and the requirement is that care moves from hospitals to homes, the data collected by smart technologies empowers caregivers to react in emergencies.
Growing populations also mean increased risk of the spread of disease in crowded spaces. As the recent pandemic has shown, data around everything from air and water quality to contact monitoring and other pre-programmable metrics make IoT technologies a formidable tool for health and wellbeing.
Related to food security above is food safety. By digitising traceability and monitoring food throughout the supply chain, food safety is better assured. A supply of safe, nutritious food works towards achieving public health.
Clean water and sanitation
The key for a steady supply of clean water is best achieved through reducing water wastage and monitoring water usage and quality. At a smart building level, the simple use of AMR water meters monitors water usage and prevents water waste.
Smart technologies also provide powerful insights on factors influencing water quality. An example of this is automated legionella auto-flush units that remove the need for manual checks and inaccuracies around water temperature legionella risks. Here’s how we implemented an auto-flush system for Aquacare.
Within the smart city context, monitoring on a city-wide scale can significantly streamline supply and reduce the risk of waste from leaks. It also assures optimal waste water management.
Reducing energy and making the move to clean energy is a priority in reducing the effects of climate change. Smart energy monitoring is an instrument for meaningful change in that it identifies areas of waste and potential savings, driving long-term strategy and helping users to make immediate changes in response to undesirable data indications.
It also aids in the seamless shift to renewable resources, mitigating the risk of disruptions and monitoring savings for compliance and a reliable, affordable energy supply. Within smart cities, smart grids operate to provide energy within shifting regulation around emissions and efficiencies. Energy suppliers also have access to data that will empower them to plan around peak usage and improve reliability of supply.
Smart energy systems optimise maintenance processes to keep equipment and systems running as efficiently as possible. Preventative maintenance protocols enhance functionality, improve continuity, and ensure equipment and machinery runs efficiently.
Economic growth and improved infrastructure
Population growth puts pressure on infrastructure and work opportunities for economic growth. On an individual level, smart technologies and IoT maximise opportunities, reduce losses, and accelerate growth prospects.
For example, data insights pave the way for streamlined processes and improved productivity. By simultaneously reducing waste and losses and intensifying resource efficiency, there is improved profitability and scope for expansion.
IoT technologies automate processes and create new job opportunities, allowing personnel to maximise their talents and value. It is the golden age for digital innovation and growth in industry – and it starts with detailed information within our organisations.
Sustainable cities and communities
The World Economic Forum has an IoT for Sustainable Development Project, which evaluates IoT impact across SDG areas. The hope is that ‘scalable and replicable’ models can later be deployed across the private and public sectors to achieve SDGs.
Cities are anticipated to grow as population increases – and this places additional pressure on the sustainability of urbanised spaces of the future. Smart cities are already showing benefits for individuals, communities, and the environment. They also serve vulnerable populations by providing data on conditions and allowing authorities to devise solutions.
The result is cities that are more interactive with those that live in them. Authorities are endowed with greater abilities to prevent congestion and manage waste, for example. Digital twinning, as is being conducted in Singapore, creates the capacity for leaders to visualise the needs of the city around population growth and city planning, as well as optimal placement of solar panels to support renewable energy efforts – a very micro example of what could hold meaningful macro benefits.
Smart technologies for sustainability
The role of IoT in sustainable development is a subject that is being explored by leaders and policymakers as they work to secure a future in which populations can prosper. As smart technologies are deployed more extensively in our everyday lives, the answer to sustainability challenges will start with data. Contact Smarter Technologies Group today to find out more about our IoT solutions.