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How to fight pollution with IoT

May 11, 2016


Shekhar Pareek

The massive advances in technological innovation since the industrial revolution has brought a better life to billions of people across the globe. However, along with higher standards of living, industrial economies have also brought pollution and the planetary crisis of global warming.

Scientists agree that the key causal element to the crisis is carbon emissions from human activity. Yes, development is important, but what kind of future do we offer our next generation, the animals and to the plants that co-own the Earth?

Take a look at the startling numbers in the chart above. Almost every nation is a contributor to pollution:

Curbing Carbon Emissions with IoT Technology


If rapid industrialization fueled by advances in technology played a big part in causing the pollution problem, technological innovation holds the key to solving the problem. Although important, it’s not enough to just change behaviors at an individual level, we need to implement technologies that can measure and react to environmental factors and energy use to reduce emissions on a much broader scale.

The Internet of Things is that game-changing technology. Examples include:

  • Smart home energy systems, like Google’s Nest, monitor usage patterns and communicate in real-time to maximize energy efficiency, saving money and energy.
  • IoT connected cars from manufacturers like GM and Tesla are maximizing route efficiency, saving drivers time and fuel and reducing emissions.
  • IoT-enabled smart grids are collecting data from devices connected to the electricity grid and adjusting energy output more efficiently.
  • Companies like Smart Watering Systems are deploying IoT to help commercial property managers make better decisions regarding water use, promote conservation, and modify behavior about their water consumption.
  • In agriculture, Observant’s IoT-enabled equipment and sensors capture a variety of data–from weather and soil conditions to pump and tank levels–to help agricultural customers dramatically reduce their energy consumption.

The Need for Governance

So, we have the technology to combat the problem. However, to conquer carbon emissions, there has to be a marriage of technology with government policies.

Here’s a beginning outline of what needs to be done:

Step 1: Mandate strong government policies

  • Set thresholds for CO2 emissions, on the basis of industry verticals and vehicle types.
  • Offer lucrative tax incentives to industries and vehicle owners to start with. Maybe, gamify the process and report the results publicly to promote awareness.
  • Mandate installation of CO2 sensors across these industries and vehicles.

Step 2: Leverage technology for real time CO2 monitoring and enforcement

  • Capture real time emission data from the sensors and feed it to a cloud storage built for Big Data ingestion.
  • Analyze the data in real time and put in place rules that automate actions when limits are exceeded.
  • Build apps to offer visualization of CO2 emissions, so that both the culprits and the government can keep a tab on the emission levels, and appropriate remedial measures can be taken.

IoT can play a key role in the resolution of these global issues. Cheaper bandwidth, greater availability of computing power and reduced storage costs are all driving the adoption of IoT technologies to combat pollution in more and more innovative ways.

Read more about how Cisco Jasper is helping companies in various industries – including energy, utilities, home automation, automotive and more – become more efficient through IoT. And please share your thoughts and experiences below with IoT & emission control initiatives.

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