Reducing the environmental impact of global IoT

More devices mean more power. That, in turn, means more natural resources are used and more pollution is created. With IoT expanding at a rate of knots, the environmental impact could be significant if the right amount of attention isn’t given to reducing the power requirements of the network and its connected devices.

Today, much of the data emitted from devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) flows through the largest and most advanced global cloud and data centres worldwide. As IoT proliferates, the amount of data passing through these centres each day from devices communicating with cloud platforms is simultaneously rising.

Research conducted in 2015, arguably before the worldwide surge of IoT devices being introduced to the network, suggested that in the United States alone, data centre energy consumption will increase to roughly 140 billion kilowatt-hours annually by 2020, the equivalent to nearly 100 million metric tons of carbon pollution.

The machines processing such large caches of data are now having to work even harder, requiring an ever-increasing dependency on physical infrastructure, and therefore, energy. This is a knock-on effect of IoT ‘things’ inevitably using more energy to communicate with cloud platforms, especially in power-dependent applications and for remote devices in the automotive, logistics and transport sectors, to name a few. Concerns are now being raised over the impact the increasing energy consumption of IoT devices is having on the environment, in light of the ongoing global push for energy efficiency.

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