Data collected on the ground is more valuable than ever for modern companies, who are aware of how to use it to ensure that their systems, equipment and processes remain environmentally friendly, efficient and productive. What is environmental monitoring, then? Although the use cases can be broad, it can be defined as a system that includes distributed sensors, edge computing, wireless connectivity and visibility tools to monitor processes, equipment and conditions in order to track environmental health or prevent events that could harm the environment.
In a broader sense, “environmental conditions”, in many cases, refers to heat, moisture, vibration, and other environmental variables which can adversely affect the reliability and consistency of equipment operation. While we might initially think of environmental monitoring as a term that is purely ecological, it also includes variables such as heat, cold, moisture, vibration, and other environmental factors.
Environmental monitoring technology is not new. However, it can be difficult for organizations to use this data when it comes from outside of traditional on-prem and cloud environments. The Internet of Things devices are being used by industries like manufacturing, energy, and agriculture to integrate environmental monitoring in their operations. This has transformed the way that these businesses interact and react to their environment.
What does environmnetal monitoring mean?
Environmental monitoring is the use of observational tools and techniques (such as wireless communication, sensors and remote management software), to detect, observe, and measure environmental conditions in a particular location or site. The actual reality of these process — the tools, parameters selected and the way they are implemented — will vary depending on their use.
Environmental monitoring was traditionally used for ecological reasons. Researchers who want to measure environmental conditions over time, such as air pollution or the impact of industrial pollution on habitats and protected areas, may use disconnected methods.
They would have to periodically go and collect the monitoring devices that they had distributed in the field to retrieve the data they wanted. With IoT devices and wireless connectivity, as well as platforms that allow for near-instant information access from anywhere, environmental monitoring principles can be applied to new cases. These include monitoring oil pipelines and water treatment plants, to checking groundwater and monitoring water treatment facilities.
Each organization should consider its primary and secondary goals when adopting environmental monitoring. This will enable them to plan the strategic implementation of IoT devices that are designed appropriately.
Environmental monitoring is used in industrial applications for a variety of reasons.
Optimising operations for safety and effectiveness. Environmental monitoring allows businesses to monitor and react to changing conditions, reducing the risks of equipment failures, accidents, and damage.
Reduce the impact of an organization on the environment. Ecological monitoring techniques can be used to track industrial sites and reduce pollution or carbon emissions.
Validating safety protocols in place. Environmental monitoring reports can be used by companies in industries that need specific conditions on site to function effectively.
Environmental Scanning Techniques
Organizations can choose from a range of scanning and monitoring methods when monitoring environmental systems. The data streams produced at edge sites are often thousands of points and can’t be stored or processed in the cloud to be used for real-time. It’s therefore important to choose which technique is best for your industry, operational needs, and priorities.
Three major environmental problems can be separated into three categories.
Remote monitoring and wireless technology have made it possible for businesses in the oil and gas industry, manufacturing, agriculture, and even healthcare, to benefit from environmental monitoring. Businesses can integrate environmental assessment and monitoring into their management and operational processes by using IoT-based monitoring systems.
As the following examples will demonstrate, IoT-based environmental monitoring systems can be used to help businesses respond faster and better to situations that require immediate attention (such a leaks or equipment breakdowns) as well as long-term concerns.
Pollution Monitoring Systems
The monitoring of pollution has proven to be a valuable tool for manufacturing, civil engineering and agriculture. These systems allow organizations to monitor, measure, and even mitigate pollution that can affect air quality, soil quality, and natural water storage. Both private and public organisations can benefit from monitoring the acidity of the environment and the overall chemical composition. But they must also be able to act quickly on this information.
Companies and local governments will be able to react more quickly when these environmental monitoring capabilities, integrated and managed by IoT platforms are used. This includes the impact of pollution on project timelines, equipment availability, worker safety, and public health. Construction companies and agricultural operations, for example, that need to conduct environmental impact assessments before beginning and completing regulated projects, can use continuous environmental monitoring in order to remain informed and responsive.
Leak Detection Systems
Leak detection systems are critical in the oil and natural gas industry. They are crucial for ensuring worker safety and protecting the environment. Oil and gas companies must optimize their environmental monitoring systems to detect leaks early and reliably, both above and below ground.
Liquid and gas fuels can be explosive, making the environment in a gas or oil field or rig, with its equipment, a dangerous place. Unchecked leaks can also pose a serious threat to the surrounding animal and plant life. Not to mention, the potential health risks to the public if oil or gas is contaminated in the groundwater. Oil and gas companies that use IoT devices as environmental monitors can develop leak detection systems to alert them quickly and minimize damage.
Wastewater Lift Stations and Tank Monitoring Systems
While people don’t often associate sewage management with the importance of environmetal quality, wastewater storage and processing systems are some of the most important use cases for monitoring the environment. Wastewater management has a direct impact on public health, agricultural yields, and water availability. The misuse or malfunction of wastewater storage and equipment can have a lasting impact on the surrounding communities.
The municipalities that are responsible for the operation and supervision of wastewater lift stations and tanks, can create effective environmental monitoring systems by deploying and connecting IoT networks. These networks will record and measure in real-time the chemical properties and characteristics of the treated water. These systems can also be combined with sensors for leak detection, which helps prevent contamination of groundwater, and limits the exposure of municipal workers to harmful pollutants such as pathogenic bacteria or virus.
Monitoring Groundwater and Aquifers
Monitoring of groundwater
Groundwater protection is another way IoT-based monitoring of the environment can be used to enhance public health and increase agricultural productivity. Groundwater makes up 37% of public water supplies in the United States – water supplied by local municipalities to homes and businesses – and 90% of rural drinking water.
It may take a long time for the effects and characteristics of pollution to become apparent, but once contamination has occurred it can be difficult to reverse. The most common offenders are industrial and commercial operations, which can cause ecological harm and health issues for the public as well as be fined by regulatory agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency.
Why is environmental monitoring important?
Businesses and government agencies can monitor environmental conditions at various locations using IoT devices that measure and observe specific environmental conditions. These IoT sensors, which can measure water, soil, or air quality, provide data-driven insights and allow site managers to solve problems.
Industrial and commercial businesses are able to respond to the consequences of their actions by cleaning up contaminants, repairing malfunctioning equipment, or adjusting operations to reduce risks and prevent financial loss.
Environmental monitoring technology is becoming more relevant as companies and governments focus on developing and deploying smart operations to support sustainability. Environmental monitoring using IoT can help organizations in agriculture and manufacturing, waste management, utilities, public services, and other critical industries. Reduce the risk of equipment failures by stopping operations when conditions are poor.
Prevent harmful pollution from building up in soil, indoor air and groundwater.
Implementing leak detection and monitoring systems will reduce the likelihood of workplace accidents in environments that are high-risk, such as oil and gas fields.
By improving the protection of groundwater and aquifers, you can protect local animal and plant life as well as agriculture production and public safety.
Digi Display of Solutions
IoT devices can be deployed to monitor air, soil and surface water quality in a wide range of vertical industries and use cases. Wireless IoT devices are also less harmful to the environment than trenching and running cables. IoT environmental monitoring is not only a way to support sustainability goals, but also to reduce the risk of accidents, equipment failures and human exposure to harmful contaminants.