The Internet of Things (IoT) has become one of the most important technologies of the 21st century. It is often featured in the news for its contributions toward ‘smart cities’ or for optimizing efficiency in factories and weather prediction, but the less well documented IoT developments centered around the environment and its preservation.

What is the IoT?

In the most basic terms, the IoT is a series of interconnected ‘computers’ (electronic device capable of receiving data and performing certain functions) that communicate with each other over the internet.  

The IoT is already being put to good use in the conservation world, with a lot of startups tackling issues such as poaching, deforestation and endangered species. Some example examples of IoT implementation in the ecological sphere are:

Bees

“If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live,”.

The ominous words of Albert Einstein which have featured far too often in the last few years; with last year marking the tenth year since beekeepers in the US reported that thousands of their bees were dying, a phenomenon that has been named ‘colony collapse disorder’.

The Bee Corp have been working to ‘stop the bleeding’ by tracking the health and behavioral patterns of the insects and their hives. The company mission is to develop technology to help beekeepers maximize pollination revenue per hive and help growers reduce cost and optimize pollination quality.

They created Verifli – a hive grading system that collated data as: size of the colony, pollination value and temperature, then is analyzed by an algorithm, that send alerts to the beekeeper in the case of an irregularity. The temperature of the hive correlates directly with the health of the hive; when the Queen is healthy, the temperature is kept steady by the worker bees in order to help incubate the Queen’s eggs, but when the temperature drops, it’s a sign that the bees are about to supersede the Queen.

Rain Forests

20% of global carbon emissions come from deforestation, which not only contributes to global warming but also destroys the natural habitat of many species, of which a large percentage are endangered.

The Rain Forest Connection has developed the RFSx monitoring system which is attached to individual trees. The system works using old mobile phones as listening devices which monitor noise activity to detect signs of illegal foresting or poaching.

Lynxes

The Iberian Lynx was declared critically endangered with less than 100 animals in existence. This number has now tripled thanks to the implementation of the IoT in Southern Spain. The Lynxes are fitted with location collar which allows them to be georeferenced and therefore monitored visually by drones, which are far less intrusive than human beings.  

These examples represent a little fraction of the positive effect the increasing world-wide implementation of the Internet of Things is having on the environment; could the IoT hold the key to a safer, cleaner and more efficient planet?