From food waste elimination to weather warnings, the IoT can help protect and safeguard basic human needs, especially in areas where climate change is already in full force and effect.
In July 2021, 115.3 liters of rain per square meter fell in three days in Germany’s Ahr valley. The normal level of rainfall is about half this amount per month, according to the German Weather Service. The result was 134 people dead, 766 injured and more than 3,000 buildings damaged, many seriously. Research scientists concluded that the floods were due to climate change. But there was another reason why this natural disaster hit the region so suddenly, causing the worst damage for decades. Early warning systems were either not in place or not smart enough to warn people and trigger timely evacuation.
IoT and Climate Adaptation
It was a disaster that could have been forestalled. From flooding to a shortage of water or food, for people whose basic needs are under threat the Internet of Things (IoT) can make a decisive contribution to saving property and even lives. The IoT accelerates the transmission of environmental data and thereby increases the response time in which important measures to protect the population can be undertaken. The IoT plays a special role in two areas: timely rescue work in disaster areas and smart regulation of resource usage. Especially in areas where the impact of climate change has long been full and frontal, technologies are required to help mitigate both ecological damage and social consequences. Climate events are growing increasingly intensive and frequent. According to a World Hunger Aid study the number of natural disasters for which climate change is to blame has increased nearly tenfold since 1960.
Disaster Control: Early Warning
Yet the cost and input required to mitigate the consequences is relatively manageable. An IoT sensor with a built-in Telekom SIM card can be really useful, for example. Attached to the arm of a river or to a building, a system of this kind can register when a limit is exceeded. It sends the digital data in next to no time via an LTE-M or 5G network to an online platform that analyzes the data and sends an alarm. Is the water level rising too fast? Do entire residential areas face a threat of flooding? In the best case threats of this kind are identified early enough for local authorities and enterprises to take predictive action and protect the public by means of appropriate countermeasures up to and including evacuation.
IoT sensors are used in a wide range of scenarios. In the event of the slightest changes the technology can power an app to issue warnings of flooding or storms and forest fires due to a dry spell. Deutsche Telekom and divirod regularly collect global water data from lakes, rivers, coasts and roofs, for example, to predict the risk of flooding or collapsing roofs due to snow or ice. Enterprises can purchase this data on a Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) basis as a precautionary measure.
IoT-based control platforms can also help to use sparingly or protect food or water that is essential for survival. Careful use of resources is essential in areas that are subject to extreme weather conditions. In southern and northern Europe and, in the future, in North and South America the Internet of Things regulates or will regulate the irrigation of fields and plantations by means of networked water meters. The IoT solution developed by Hidroconta and equipped with Telekom’s Embedded Connectivity sends water usage data regularly and automatically by NB-IoT to a Cloud platform. Agricultural enterprises can then set individual watering times so as to use the resource sustainably and not waste water.
IoT systems can be put to similar use to combat food waste. Today we destroy up to 40 percent of the world’s food output. Shipping and storage at a constant appropriate temperature and humidity are indispensable if fruit, vegetables, dairy products and meat are to stay fresh for as long as possible and not go to waste early. Tracking sensors can help by monitoring the cold chain and warning reliably before the condition of the goods deteriorates. Employees can then respond in time and adjust the temperature, for example. The effect is enormous. Supermarkets are thereby able to throw away seven percent less food that would otherwise go to waste – tons of valuable food a year in Germany alone.
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Since 2015, Pauline has been passionate about the variety of the IoT world. She has gained a lot of experience with the Internet of Things from different perspectives by working with customers, partners, and start-up companies. For the Telekom IoT blog she writes about technological trends, products, and innovations in the Internet of Things which are implemented in different industries.
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