Thanks to substantial investment into the digitalisation process, the world has become more connected than ever before. Notably, the global Internet penetration rate has reached over 63%, and the number is quickly growing — a trend further accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic with the rise of increasing remote work, more Internet usage, and constant connectivity. Consequently, the data generated by users’ activities have been predicted to grow over eight times by 2030.
Human beings are not the only ones more digitally connected; devices and machines also communicate more frequently and seamlessly. From daily household appliances such as smart toasters and hairbrushes to large-scale modern factory equipment, all things are inserted with increasingly sophisticated chips and are connected to the web application and the Internet to become part of the Internet of Things (IoT).
The connectivity among devices opens endless opportunities for data connection, analysis, automation, and efficiency optimisation.
The ingrained trade-off between product performance and energy consumption
At the Harnessing IoT and Data for a Sustainable Future session at the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology 2022 (SWITCH 2022), Charles Vaillant, CTO of MANN+HUMMEL Group, a leading privately owned corporation in the field of filtration in Germany, expressed that “During our company’s history, we are very keen on technology, and our way of working focuses on innovating products to improve water, air, and mobility. All of our products are designed for the noble purpose of protecting people and protecting assets.”
Vaillant added, “To function, they need the energy to push the water through a membrane or air through an HVAC system. As a result, two areas are always important for us. The first concern is the product’s performance, particularly how good it is and what else can be done to enhance its performance, allowing it to better track and separate the harmful from the useful. Second, ensuring that the products consume the least energy is essential. And most of the time, this is a big challenge because if you want the product to perform well, it often utilises a lot more energy.”
In fact, the perceived inherent trade-off between product performance and energy consumption has become a significant constraint for many ICT (Information and Communications Technology) and industrial products, prompting the producers to reconsider various factors, including product design, energy availability, and different optimisation frameworks with selected features and functions. Greater energy usage levels are often linked to higher greenhouse gas emissions, resource depletion, and harmful waste discharges to the environment during the extraction, energy production and usage process, polluting the environment and threatening sustainability.
The power of IoT and data in enhancing sustainability
Fortunately, according to Accenture, despite their shortcomings, IoT technologies and data present new valuable opportunities to develop functional and eco-friendly applications such as smart energy metres, health monitoring, smart fleet management, traffic management, and so on.
IoT technologies allow devices connected to the same network to communicate and share data, which subsequently provide valuable insights into the whole process to optimise the activities, saving time and energy as a result. Companies leveraging these new IoT technologies have significantly improved their technical solutions to reduce carbon emissions. Nearly 85% of existing IoT-related projects have consistently incorporated the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in their long-term objectives, maximising energy efficiency and taking advantage of newly available renewable materials.
More than that, sharing the same vision for a greener and healthier world, companies across sectors have joined hands to develop innovative solutions that harness IoT technologies to solve complex sustainability challenges. For instance, CTO Charles Vaillant shared about MANN+HUMMEL’s cooperation with Audi in a joint effort to improve air quality with Audi products.
“Audi announced that they’re working with us on a concept where they integrate filters in the front of the car to collect and filter particulate matter in the surrounding air while driving or charging. With this pilot technology, when the electric car is driven through the city or charged at the station, it consistently and systematically gathers and absorbs the minute particulates discharged by itself and nearby vehicles immediately when the emissions are generated. This innovative solution thrives on the capability of IoT technologies and addresses the issue of the fine specks of dust produced frequently by the vehicles’ brake and tire,” said Charles Vaillant.
Partnerships are key when employing IoT and data to foster sustainable solutions
Pushing for sustainability is vital in supporting Asia’s future, as 92% of the region experiences air pollution while 300 million people in Asia lack access to clean water. Additionally, Asia is at the epicentre of climate change effects which can erode up to $4.7 trillion of the region’s GDP due to the impacts of hurricanes, floods, droughts, and other unpredictable climatic events.
Collaboration with leading global innovative solution providers is crucial to curb these sustainability risks and accelerate knowledge exchange and technological transfer.
With exciting new developments, IoT and Data are poised to change the game for the future of sustainability in Asia and beyond!