Could Internet Be A Game-Changer For Sustainability?

UNITED STATES—It is hardly a secret that human activity has put an immense strain on the planet, one that the Earth is struggling to respond to. Climate change and fossil fuels have forced us to make some bleak predictions about the future of our planet. Yet even though technological developments like the increased popularity of cars and airplane travel have contributed to this demise, technology might also hold the key to a solution out of this dead-end course.

Cutting-edge tech like the Internet of Things (IoT) might have a lot to offer towards promoting sustainable solutions that can help save the environment. Let’s take a look into why.

The Impact of Technology on the Planet

Environmental pollution and climate change are to account for some devastating catastrophes – that also come at a great financial cost. According to the Statista infographic below, it is estimated that while climate-related disasters incurred $895 billion in economic costs during the period from 1978 to 1997, the figure rose to an even more staggering $2.2 trillion between 1998 and 2017 – a 151% increase that is undeniably linked to the way we treat nature. The tech industry has been oscillating between coming up with marvels that have dire consequences for the environment and investing in green technologies, but now it seems that one of the latest prodigies, the Internet of Things, might also prove good for the planet.

The Internet of Things Set to Dominate Across Industries

The Internet of Things refers to devices that are interconnected through the Internet, which allows them to communicate with one another without human input, and even control other devices remotely. IoT is still in the early stages of implementation and developers are finetuning issues like security. In fact, IoT devices are still more vulnerable to attacks compared to other more tried and tested tech. Yet cybersecurity tools like a WAF (Web Application Firewall) could help protect their log-in platforms and fend off hackers aiming to steal sensitive data or gain control of these devices. Once security issues are solved, IoT is expected to truly boom – the value of the IoT market amounted to roughly $157 billion in 2016 and is set to reach $457 billion until 2020, with 26% of IoT applications devoted to Smart Cities, 24% to industrial manufacturing and 20% directed towards healthcare.

IoT Deployments Closely Connected to UN Sustainable Development Goals

According to research presented by the World Economic Forum, by 2025 the industry’s economic impact will amount to 14% of the world’s GDP – or $11.1 trillion. But even more interestingly, the World Economic Forum estimates that IoT could be crucial for achieving sustainability, as 84% of projects in the IoT field comply with the objectives set in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals that are to be reached by 2030. 75% of those IoT deployments work towards achieving five crucial goals – 25% are connected to industry, innovation and infrastructure, which is no. 9 on the UN’s list, a further 19% focus on Smart Cities (no. 11 on the list) and another 19% on affordable and clean energy (Goal no. 7). Furthermore, 7% are concentrating on good health (Goal no. 3) and 5% are linked to producing and consuming more responsibly (Goal no. 12).

As IoT tech is set to dominate the landscape in the next years, this close connection between so many IoT projects and the UN’s sustainability goals could be a game-changer across industries. This data encourages optimism about the future of sustainable tech solutions.