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How businesses can use the internet of things to save the environment

Though the internet of things is in its early years, it has already started to transform how people live. For instance, cars have GPS to determine the fastest route. There are also communication systems built inside homes to keep track of children. However, these are not all that IoT can do, not by a longshot. IoT technology could help make a more sustainable world.

What’s special about IoT?

IoT technologies are perfect for environmental sustainability as they are communicative and analytical. Ecosystems, both environmental and technological, are too complicated for action and analysis by any one technology. At the very least, it takes pairs of technologies. Soil sensors have to communicate with sprinkler systems for water use regulation. Emissions sensors should communicate with heavy machinery to minimize noxious pollution. Water contaminant sensors should communicate to determine harmful pollutants in rivers and oceans.

Ways businesses can use IoT to save the environment

Natural disasters have risen in the past years. In the wake of such occurrences, it is undeniable that organizations and businesses are responsible for a great deal of the environmental factors that lead to extreme weather situations. For instance, consider the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are produced in the manufacturing process alone. Fortunately, businesses have the potential, as well as the necessary technology, to contribute to the restoration of at least some damage and lower harmful effects. The secret weapon? The internet of things, with the help of software companies.

A recent survey found that nearly 100% of CEOs and vice presidents believe IoT is already contributing to a more sustainable future and would continue doing so in five years’ time. Nonetheless, despite the huge potential, only half of C-suite leaders reported at present using data and connectivity to support sustainability initiatives, often citing structural limitations and priorities in business competition as major obstacles. With this in mind, there are a few steps that businesses can take to minimize the effects of the barriers and set their organization on the right path to be champions of a more connected and sustainable future.

  1. Emphasis on digital citizenship and individual responsibility. For sustainable efforts to succeed, business organizations must first understand their duty to help people function via technology as citizens and help employees recognize that their individual efforts and endeavors are worthwhile. It’s necessary to remind employees that by being corporate citizens, each plays a critical role in shaping a future wherein strategic sustainability and growth opportunities are intertwined and could support one another. To help create a culture of community and commitment, business leaders must encourage their employees to take a proactive stance in designing the sustainability initiatives of the organization. In order to do this, companies should instill a sense of individual responsibility. For example, sustainability teams could use technologies to immerse people in scenarios that demonstrate the effect of short-sighted environmental policies and create empathy regarding issues, like desertification or deforestation, that otherwise could feel too far away to matter.
  2. Collaborate to make guidelines for technology development. Since technology develops faster than legislation, there’s a lack of unified environmental guidelines for emerging technologies. However, there are also limits to how much companies can prioritize environmental advantages over economic costs, since the key objective in most organization is to maximize revenue. By working with government organizations, businesses can help develop appropriate measures to ensure technology is channeled for the greater good at scale. There are times that businesses have difficulty complying with federal environmental goals as the timeframe is limited or if they lack internal resources. To close the gap, businesses and governments could coordinate and together build more ecofriendly guidelines related to IoT devices and open data.
  3. Share resources and knowledge across departments. Once individuals determine and acknowledge their responsibility, leaders can help foster a collaborative business environment across numerous departments. As it stands, only 23% of survey respondents said there is considerable collaboration between IoT and sustainability experts within their own organization, let alone within an external network. Focusing on cross-functional disciplines could lead to building systematic and disruptive technologies. When employees are actively sharing projects and resources freely, it creates a fluid information exchange among individuals and groups of different areas of expertise that in turn could spark new ideas as well as inspire experimentation. Often, innovation follows.

Businesses play a critical and necessary role in creating a sustainable future. The exchange of ideas, expertise and data among people, organizations and governments could enable the corporate world to create more sustainable products and services.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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