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How IoT saves the climate: Five examples of sustainable innovation

Climate change is becoming increasingly evident and requires urgent action. As we face this challenge, the Internet of Things (IoT) appears to be a tool that offers great promise for combating climate change and helping to create a more sustainable future. We’re highlighting five inspiring examples to show how the IoT can help make the world a little greener again.

Uta Engelmann

September 27, 2023 . 5 minutes read

Summer – which most people think of as the best time of the year – has increasingly been defined by the impacts of climate change. Heat waves, droughts and torrential rain are not just affecting the way we live our own lives, but also our environment and economy, and this has been happening for many years. These kinds of extreme weather pose major challenges for farmers, urban infrastructure and our safety and security. During this dark period of climate change, the Internet of Things (IoT) is showing how it can potentially help us deal with the consequences. Delve into the fascinating world of the IoT and read about five specific examples of greater sustainability.

The IoT makes it possible to record environmental data accurately, providing the basis for data-driven predictions, alerts and recommendations for action. (Source: Unsplash)

Smart irrigation: using water resources smartly

During periods of drought, targeted irrigation is crucial in reducing the amount of water used in nurseries, city parks, wine-growing areas or on sports fields. Allmetra, a provider that specialises in smart irrigation for smart agriculture, is developing a robust sensor-to-cloud solution that controls water consumption based on data. Soil-moisture sensors measure the moisture content of the soil and control a smart irrigation system. This can reduce water use by up to 30%. In addition, the smart IoT solution prevents over-watering, which boosts crop growth and farm yields. This not only conserves the environment, but also makes water management economically sustainable by reducing resources and costs.

Crops don’t just suffer when they’re too dry, but also often when they’re watered too much. As well as wasting water, this makes crops less healthy and reduces yields. (Source: Unsplash)

Electric mobility: the smart way to travel sustainably

Promoting electric mobility is a key step in reducing CO2 emissions. Zaptec Switzerland, an expanding SME that sells smart charging stations, has already connected over 3,000 electric charging stations using the IoT solution from Sunrise. The devices not only make it more convenient to charge electric vehicles but can also be controlled in a smart way. They measure power consumption in real time and allow efficient load management, especially when multiple cars are being charged simultaneously in larger built-up residential areas. This optimises energy consumption and prevents any bottlenecks, such as short circuits. This produces significant energy savings, and also reduces the need for vehicle journeys if technical problems occur, because the smart charging stations allow software upgrades to be made at the touch of a button from company headquarters and remote maintenance to be performed via the cloud. The combination of electric mobility and the IoT will conserve the environment and drive electric mobility more sustainably.

Zaptec Switzerland promotes electric mobility with its smart charging stations that can be controlled centrally using the Sunrise IoT platform. (Source: Sunrise)

Smart city: viable cities of the future

Smart cities also benefit from the Internet of Things. For example, the brightness of streetlights automatically adjusts whenever people approach them, reducing energy consumption in less busy areas. Smart waste bins use IoT sensors to monitor how full they are, so they’re only emptied when they’re full and refuse trucks don’t travel around empty. Additional environmental sensors measure air and water quality at busy traffic junctions, provide real-time data and enable action to be taken to reduce pollution. This enhances the quality of life for residents and makes the day-to-day running of smart cities more efficient and sustainable.

IoT sensors in (soon to be autonomous) vehicles, traffic lights and road infrastructure optimise traffic flows, which ultimately means less congestion and improves people’s quality of life and the air they breathe in cities. (Source: Unsplash)

Interconnected warning sirens: ensuring everyone’s safety

Extreme weather events like floods or natural disasters require effective warning systems to ensure the safety of the population. Kockum Sonics AG connects its smart warning sirens using IoT and collects a variety of data, such as the battery status, information on defective components or impending wear and tear. The engineers no longer rely solely on the annual siren test day in February to check that the sirens are working properly and keep them maintained. Instead, they continuously receive real-time data on the sirens’ status. This allows potential faults to be detected at an early stage and fixed much more efficiently. The service engineers’ repair jobs can be scheduled precisely, unnecessary journeys are avoided, and maintenance jobs generate lower costs and use fewer resources. This ensures that, if a disaster occurs, the sirens are guaranteed to work and the population will be alerted promptly.

In order to ensure that a loud warning can be issued to all residents in an emergency, smart warning sirens automatically report potential malfunctions and can be maintained more easily. (Source: Unsplash)

Digital electricity meters – smart energy management

Swiss energy providers need to replace their analogue electricity meters with smart meters, and for good reason. These new electricity meters send and receive consumption and status data via the Internet of Things. The data from the smart electricity meters is sent to the utility companies in encrypted form via the IoT and really helps to make the level of power consumption transparent. This means that energy providers are not only able to supply electricity to end users, but can also collect it from them, for example in the form of excess solar power from the roofs of private houses or from the battery storage systems of electric vehicles that are not being used. This is particularly useful when there are peaks of consumption on the power grid. This solves the problem that private storage solutions can only redistribute power to a limited extent to other consumers. The «smart grid» collects excess electricity via central transformer stations and can provide it to other consumers in joint storage systems.

Energy providers can use IoT to detect an unusually high energy demand and redistribute excess solar power from the roofs of private houses to other consumers. (Source: Unsplash)

So is the IoT a miracle cure?

The Internet of Things won’t stop climate change, but it can play an important role in dealing with the consequences and slowing down the negative trends. IoT-based data helps us better understand the state of our environment and make informed political, economic and societal decisions. Collecting historical and real-time data allows for enhanced protection mechanisms, alerts and automation. This ultimately leads to positive impacts for the environment, such as saving water or electricity resources, predictive maintenance and more comfortable living in smart cities. It’s time to embrace the IoT as a tool for creating a more sustainable future.

Technologies like the IoT don’t offer a miracle cure, but they’re regarded as a useful element in dealing with the consequences of climate change. (Source: Unsplash)


How business customers use the Internet of Things

Get your devices connected and work with us to create a more sustainable future. A key advantage of the IoT is that status data is recorded and evaluated wirelessly. 5G, the driving force behind the IoT, allows large volumes of data to be transmitted in real time, with an impressive capacity of up to one million devices connected per square kilometre. Another bonus is that, compared to 4G, 5G requires only a third of the power. The new mobile standard is an important building block for a sustainable future for Switzerland. Find out more in the asut bulletin «IoT and sustainability».


The IoT experts at Sunrise Business and their partner ecosystem will support you from initial pilot projects through to large-scale IoT solutions. Our IoT Starter Services offer cost-effective starter packages to help you utilise the benefits of the IoT immediately, and include convenient features with the easy-to-use IoT management platform.

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