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The information and system intelligence and analytics capabilities enabled by the internet of things (IoT) could potentially help drive sustainable development around the world, according to Gartner research vice-president Bettina Tratz-Ryan.
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As world leaders gather for the COP21 climate change talks in Paris – with the hope of securing a universal legal agreement on climate change that will keep global warming below a 2⁰C level – Tratz-Ryan set out a number of areas where the IoT could play its part in alleviating one of the most pressing global challenges.
She described the ability to perform real-time analysis on any operation or process as a game-changer when it came to creating environmental benefits. In effect, she said, this could make the IoT the eyes and ears of humanity.
“Linking vehicles, commuter traffic and air emissions to air quality is giving traffic management the right data to manage road guidance and parking,” said Tratz-Ryan.
“Real-time energy consumption patterns in buildings linked to time of day and people traffic help real estate management to reduce operational cost, greenhouse gas emissions and the environmental footprint.”
Furthermore, the use of social applications to share personal environmental best practice could create more of a “dynamic community approach” to climate change issues, encouraging the mass use of data to make changes at a personal level.
Embracing smart cities
Although much has been written about the reluctance of many local authorities and city governments to fully embrace the idea of the smart city – often due to confusion – Tratz-Ryan pointed out that sustainability and climate change impact should be a key area to consider when seeking to address economic, social demographic and environmental strategies in a smart city.
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She pointed to the examples of Copenhagen, Kyoto and Portland as cities that were already successfully embedding environmental practice into their smart city programmes.
“Climate resilience is achieved not only by planning around emergencies, but by building a community that focuses on waste management and recycling, renewable energy and resource efficiency, air quality, and reduction of emissions,” said Tratz-Ryan.
She also discussed some areas where CIOs could embrace the IoT’s potential within the enterprise through, for example, analysing real-time data flows from business processes and using them to understand where resources were being wasted.
Tratz-Ryan added that IoT sensors could also provide more information on the context in which they were monitoring their immediate environment, offering insight into a number of factors that could lead to environmental inefficiencies, such as user behavior.
In a similar way to how they could be used in the consumer space, social IoT projects would also create buy-in within the enterprise. “Generation Y or Z employees have a strong interest in the value-driven code of their employers, which includes sustainability performance,” said Tratz-Ryan.