Promoting environmental sustainability with wireless M2M connectivity
On April 22nd we celebrate Earth Day, the annual worldwide event that drives awareness and support for the environmental protection movement.
While many will be discussing the need to implement more eco-conscious regulations and policies, our industry is also creating innovative technologies that make a powerful contribution.
The proliferation of connected devices, estimated by Gartner to be at 6.4 billion this year, along with improvements in wireless solutions that enable connectivity in the most rugged environments, are transforming our relationship with the environment – for the better, says Rob Faludi, chief innovator at Digi International.
In recognition of Earth Day, here are some real-world examples of how wireless M2M connectivity is making a difference.
- Improving water quality in Africa: The Okavango Delta in Botswana, Africa, is one of the last pristine wetland wilderness areas in the world. But farther upstream, the water supply in Angola and Namibia is susceptible to human interference. To address this, National Geographic’s Okavango Expedition assembled a team of scientists and engineers to collect environmental data along the Okavango River. They are using a wireless sensor network to collect water quality data (pH, dissolved oxygen, salinity, etc.) and transmit it over long distances – enabling them to continuously monitor the delta and detect even the smallest changes in water quality.
- Monitoring Amazon wildlife with drones: An organisation called Tapirnet is developing an automated and sustainable system to document wildlife in the Amazon. To overcome the technical difficulties of remotely monitoring wildlife, they’ve placed cameras connected by a wireless sensor network throughout the Allpahuayo-Mishana National Reserve in Peru. Each node in the network relays its data to a sink node, which collects all of the sensor data. This sink node acts as an access point for a programmed drone, which is sent to collect the data and return it for processing.
- Turning fog into water: Scientists in Chile are designing systems to turn foggy air into a reliable water source using fog catchers, which capture droplets of water to be stored in tanks. With a new type of wireless sensor called the “Liquid Water Flux Probe,”scientists are able to measure the availability of water at current and potential fog collector sites. Each sensor node measures the liquid water content and speed of the fog, and can be used to understand the optimal location and orientation for each of the collectors. Once the data is collected, it’s sent over a cellular network where it is then analysed to assess performance.
We most often hear about wireless M2M connectivity enabling smarter cars and buildings, medical devices and more. All these advances should improve our lives, and it’s reassuring to see this technology is also being implemented in projects that are directly socially responsible– to create a more sustainable world and improve the quality of life for wildlife and people alike.
While I’ve mentioned just a few examples, I’d be interested in learning of more. Feel free to list any projects you’re aware of in the comments section of this blog. Earth Day is a great opportunity to acknowledge these efforts.
The author of this blog is Robert Faludi, the chief innovator at Digi International
About the Author:
Robert Faludi, the chief innovator at Digi International and a professor at New York University and the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. He specialises in behavioral interactions through physical computing and networked objects and is the author of “Building Wireless Sensor Networks,” published by O’Reilly Media. Twitter: @faludi
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