IoT-enabled devices and sensors are helping us reduce air pollution in some of our world’s biggest cities, improve agriculture and our food supply, and even detect and contain deadly viruses. Confronting these challenges requires political will, as well as a new approach to business–one that puts human welfare on an equal footing with profits. It also calls for innovative technology. We are already starting to see how the Internet of Things (IoT)—which connects everyday objects to the Internet—can help us transform our world for the better.
- Cleaner air and water
The Internet of Things can help cities improve public health. Cities suffering from chronic pollution, such as New Delhi and Beijing, are beginning to deploy sensor networks designed to alert residents when levels are dangerously high. In London approximately 9,000 deaths per year are attributed to air pollution. Drayson Technologies is currently testing sensors that are distributed to bicycle couriers and fuel-cell cars. The sensors, which transmit data to smartphones via Bluetooth, allow Drayson to create real-time maps showing air pollution levels around the city.
2. Smarter cities
Cities are great incubators for IoT-based systems that make urban life more attractive, such as fast, convenient transportation systems, safe street lighting, and energy-efficient buildings. The IoT-enabled urban services have dramatically reduced traffic jams and pollution, as well as water, light, and energy usage. Many other cities are also putting the Internet of Things to work. One example is Chicago where they tests a city-wide network of sensors called the “Array of Things”. The sensors serve as a sort of fitness tracker for the city, collecting data on air quality, climate, traffic, and other metrics. The information is sent to an open data portal where user groups can consume it for a range of applications.
3. Connecting patients
The Internet of Things can transform the healthcare industry by helping doctors gain faster access to patients’ data. Wearable, Internet-connected sensor devices that track a patient’s heart rate, pulse, or even blood pressure are increasingly affordable, compact and accurate. While there is still some debate over how to safely collect, transmit and use this data, wearables are one of the most promising IoT applications in healthcare.