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5 Ways Smart Technologies Can Boost Our Sustainability Efforts

5 Ways Smart Technologies Can Boost Our Sustainability Efforts

At this point, nobody would argue that sustainability is the only way forward if we want to continue living on planet Earth. After decades of dismissing reports predicting our impact on the increase of global temperature, we are now observers of the grim consequences of our inaction. The good news is that teams across the globe have worked tirelessly to devise ways to offset negative impacts on the climate, creating a pool of sustainable options that can be used by countries with different needs and different budgets. What we need now is a strong will to implement them. In this article, we will discuss 5 ways smart technologies can help humankind not only survive but thrive with the resources we already have.

 

But first…

 

What is sustainability?

 

Sustainability is a cover term for a variety of practices aimed at preserving available resources and using them in ways that won’t compromise the ecosystem for future generations. The concept has evolved during the year to include almost every sphere of our daily lives, various industries, even governmental policies. Focus on sustainability has been at the heart of many policies introduced in the EU, as well locally, and is going to play an even larger role in the near future as we strive to achieve carbon neutrality.

 

So, how can we harness smart technologies to live a more sustainable life? How can companies of all sizes and industries use smart technologies to offset the negative impacts of their activity? How can governments implement sustainability policies to strategically build a future world that’s even better than ours today?

 

Gather data

 

The first step towards battling destructive practices is to know what impact exactly we have on our environment – as individuals and as society. Thanks to advances in technology, scientists have been able to pinpoint the culprits for major forms of pollution and how they affect our surroundings, from cities to secluded areas as far as the poles. But with the advent of IoT technologies we can now get much more granular in our approach to data.

 

 

Acquiring real-time data on every level possible in and outside of cities can help us monitor closely different phenomena – such as air and noise pollution. With the help of smart tech in the medical sector, we can map this data onto the health status of people. The result is a better understanding of how these types of pollution affect our health – and better informed decisions on how to counteract the negative effects before they even occur.

 

The sheer amount of data we can now collect in real-time, connect to different databases and use in statistical modelling is astounding. This can help governments make evidence-driven planning the norm, and reduce the immediate effects we have on our environment.

 

Communication is key

 

Gathering data is unimportant if we simply dump it in a spreadsheet and forget about it. It is crucial we act upon it – in real time. This is done with the help of automated processes that work as we work and as we sleep. Sensors are constantly communicating with various systems, feeding them real-time data that can be used for the adjustment of various processes. For example, sensors that keep track of the traffic congestions and air pollution levels interact with intelligent traffic systems. When a specific configuration is met (accumulation of vehicles at traffic lights leading to increased levels of CO2 and fine particulate), the traffic system adjusts the traffic lights cycles to alleviate the congestion and thus clear up the air.

 

Smart poles are by far the most efficient way to both gather data and distribute it across all relevant subsystems, as they provide a hub for IoT sensors and high-speed connectivity.

 

Decision-making processes can be safely automated for a variety of systems across cities and industries thanks to the real-time communication between IoT sensors and smart systems.

 

Smart energy expenditure

 

One of the biggest challenges in front of humanity is how to transition to carbon neutrality without dealing a severe blow to our energy expenditure. There have been numerous clean energy pilots in the last decades that show promising results in this area. But it’s time we stopped believing that we, as individuals and businesses, will be able to cut our fossil fuel dependence painlessly. In order to transition to clean energy, we will need to reevaluate our needs and how we consume energy. Smart sensors can help in this battle – from actions as small as switching off appliances we don’t use at home to adjusting operational capacity in factories.

 

Waste management

 

One of the worst enemies of sustainable development is waste – both industrial and communal. Implementing waste management strategies on a global level is difficult, so countries need to find their own ways of coping with this problem. Strict measures regarding industrial waste are already in place in many countries, but communal waste is still vastly unregulated, including dumping sites that appear in the wilderness in poorer countries without any plan in place for their removal.

 

 

Waste management begins with personal responsibility and with a strategy devised by every municipality. The regular transportation of waste off city limits and its incineration, municipal waste management is the first step towards achieving the common goal of eradicating unregulated dumping sites and bringing waste collection under control. Providing facilities for separating recyclable waste at the consumer level and recycling everything that can be recycled locally is the second small but important step; another one is the local incineration or other types of waste treatment. Next up are strategies for the removal and destruction of industrial waste (including dangerous materials). In all of these processes, smart technology can play a key role allocating available resources at the level of collection and transportation to the nearest waste management facility (landfill, incinerator, etc.).

 

Digitalisation

 

In a world where almost everyone has a phone in their hands, many time and resource-consuming processes can be made digital. For example, if in the past you needed to get in your car and drive 50km to the nearest big city where you can finish an administrative chore, you can now do that without leaving your home – saving CO2 and time.

 

Digitalisation can also help municipalities communicate sustainability objectives better. By using a digital citizenship platform, each citizen can have real-time access to local educational activities. Other smart apps can help citizens pick better ways to travel (making public transit and micromobility options more readily available and easier to use).

 

We have a long way to go before we build truly sustainable, circular economies. But with the development and adoption of smart technologies, this goal becomes closer and closer for governments that are willing to listen to data and invest in their citizens’ future. We at Telelink City are eager to help set up the basics – take a look at our portfolio of smart city services and let’s talk about your city!

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