When we think about the many innovations enabled by the ubiquitous Internet of Things, few hold more promise for reducing environmental footprint and increasing sustainability than remote monitoring. Our ability to manage energy use is more precise and advanced than ever thanks to sensors that can gauge energy consumption and smart algorithms that can process data into actions. From centralized locations hundreds, or thousands, of miles away from the point of measurement, we can watch and control energy-consuming machines and systems, signaling them when to stop, start or reallocate power.
With these decisions, we can dramatically reduce power use, reducing strain on the grid and minimizing climate changing greenhouse gas emissions across the power supply chain. Because remote monitoring and intelligence are driven by data, technology and software, these systems now sit squarely in the realm of the senior technology executives who must partner with leaders across their businesses to ensure their success.
One emerging application for remote energy monitoring is within building systems. Buildings account for nearly 40% of the United States’ entire energy consumption. Couple the power use of lighting, security, elevators, HVAC and computing needs and that’s an energy bill we don’t want to pay.
However, viewing all building systems together in a singular, holistic view allows for better management of a building’s health. Today’s software integrates all the disparate building systems into one interoperable interface where an energy management provider can remotely monitor and adjust or enable autonomous updates driven by algorithms and data-informed intelligence.
Take, for example, an office building with many conference rooms. Sensors can identify room use patterns and adjust air conditioning and lighting switching systems on, off, up or down depending on predicted use. In this way, remote monitoring can help to automate power use decisions, removing that responsibility from the facility manager and transferring it to the remote monitoring provider who, from their control room many states away, can green light these data-driven decisions.
Next to buildings, the transportation sector is a close second in terms of energy use; it consumes 37% of the United States’ energy. The opportunity to reduce energy consumption is particularly significant in heavy trucking industries such as refrigerated or temperature-controlled transport. These containers and vehicles preserve fresh food over long – and short – distances. In many cases, refrigerated trucks are the only option for transporting vital medicines and other materials that require stringent temperature control.
Remote monitoring platforms that include intelligent telematics can track and capture the truck and refrigeration unit’s performance data helping to make real-time decisions to improve energy efficiency. Fleet managers can create profiles that optimize energy use and temperature performance for a specific load type and operation condition to minimize fuel use or battery use, in the case of electrified vehicles while preserving the integrity of the transported load.
These remote monitoring software platforms also capture data to inform improved product design, allowing future vehicles or containers to be more energy efficient and reduce their emissions. Companies exploring electric vehicles are paying particularly close attention to these opportunities. Through remote connectivity and data capture we can test the impact of various factors – vehicle weight, battery power draw, number of times a door is opened -to optimize performance and program systems to make critical energy use decisions in real-time.
"Remote monitoring requires integrating systems from disparate vendors. The perennial challenge of the CIO lies in identifying the right balance so that a system is open enough for interoperability but not exposed to vulnerability and attacks"
At the core of successful remote monitoring and management systems is data, which means that technology leaders are now stakeholders in areas previously outside of their purview. We believe there are three main considerations to keep in mind as companies of all sizes and industries – not just buildings and transport – adopt remote monitoring systems to support their environmental and sustainability goals.
In addition to oversight and management of these systems to ensure uptime and connectivity, IT security and enabling data analysis should be a tech leader’s top concern. Remote monitoring and continuous connectivity translate into terabytes of data. Therefore, secure and ample storage and compute power is important. Security measures should also be addressed to protect customer’s data and provide a level of comfortability.
Consider your information ecosystem. Remote monitoring requires integrating systems from disparate vendors. The perennial challenge of the CIO lies in identifying the right balance so that a system is open enough for interoperability but not exposed to vulnerability and attacks.
And finally, ensure your talent strategy is reflective of energy efficiency priorities to both support new systems as well as your business. Millennials will be 75% of the workforce by 2025 and they value, more than any other generation, working for a sustainable company. Highly skilled technology talent is already at a premium and competition is tough. But with a focus on a sustainable future, opportunities for growth are endless.