Editorial Feature

Using the IoT to Monitor Carbon Footprints

Many people are predicting that the Internet of Things (IoT), a system of devices with distinct IDs connected to the internet, will have a massive disruptive effect across many industries, and one particular disruption is the lowering of carbon emissions thanks to an improved capacity to monitor carbon footprints.


The IoT may be in its infancy, but connected devices are already being used to monitor carbon emissions. For instance, ‘smart home’ devices have sensors that can monitor power and utilities usage.

Carbon emissions in transportation are increased by defective equipment, engine damage or bad route planning. IoT can track emissions related to these issues through telematics devices, sensors and accelerometers. These devices can collect information, such as the status of an engine, and automatically inform fleet supervisors of issues when they arise. Data gathered by IoT devise can also be used to fix equipment and reduce fuel waste. In addition to lowering emissions, these devices can extend the lifespan of vehicles.

IoT devices can also track carbon footprints on a much grander scale, including in agricultural planning, the energy sector and deforestation.

Transportation Tracking

In the transportation industry, IoT monitoring facilitates functions like journey pooling, optimal route identification, synchronization of vehicles and rerouting. Various modes of transportation like planes, trains and automobiles, can get real-time updates about the weather and other such factors to make them more efficient. Ultimately, travel can become quicker, and therefore less costly.

All of this can save fuel and decrease carbon footprints by billions of metric tons, according to experts. Something as basic as utilizing smart parking systems and traffic signals can make for a greener town or city.

Agricultural Planning

The IoT isn’t just useful for monitoring transportation-related emissions. It can also streamline the planning of agricultural processes, including the planting seeds, harvesting, fertilizing and irrigation. This simplification increases efficiency, thereby reducing a carbon footprint. Using real-time alerts, farmers would be capable of determining the optimal time to irrigate their crops, reducing water and energy waste. A lot of these agricultural activities could be automated, further reducing inefficiency and a carbon footprint.

Monitoring Energy Sector Emissions

Through IoT monitoring, the energy sector has the potential to save billions of metric tons of carbon emissions. This can be achieved by automating monitoring, repetitive maintenance tasks, which can also reduce the costs of delivering service. IoT devices can continually gather information on energy usage and offer rigorous assessments, making for superior long-term operation.

IoT monitoring can also enable 'smart grids' that maximize the production, distribution and usage of electricity and gas, particularly with respect to renewable energy. Meanwhile, smart home devices, like thermostats and lighting systems, can save energy by assessing usage patterns. Collectively, the reduction in individual carbon footprints can have a massive positive ecological impact.

Tracking Deforestation

Deforestation makes up about 15 percent of all carbon emissions around the world, IoT-powered projects currently being developed can to prevent further deforestation by detecting activities like illegal logging.

The Rainforest Connection is one such project that uses IoT sensors from repurposed mobile phones. When these sensors are mounted on trees, they allow the organization to track and identify illegal logging within a large radius. The sensors are designed to detect particular sounds that are illegal logging, like the tell-tale buzz of a chainsaw or the rumbling engine of a large vehicle in an area unauthorized for traffic. These sensors allow authorities to spot and stop illegal logging in real-time.

These sensors, particularly when utilized on a grand scale can gather vast quantities of information that can be distributed and used for negotiating raised protection of forests in particular areas.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Brett Smith

Written by

Brett Smith

Brett Smith is an American freelance writer with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Buffalo State College and has 8 years of experience working in a professional laboratory.


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