Application of Blockchain technology in Environmental Monitoring
Climate change has already proven that the human race is in big trouble, if immediate changes are not implemented in both working industries and our everyday habits. It has been more than alarming to see how nature as we’ve known it is altering into a dystopian landscape from a best-selling novel all due to the negligence of people. Although this environmental crisis has been reported decades ago, it is finally now that governments start to acknowledge the repercussions of this global problem. However, there is still a long way to go until substantial changes are being made, because people have a hard time parting with all the conveniences, which actually cause harm to the environment and all its habitants.
It has become more and more apparent that technology goes hand in hand with creating solutions for putting climate change to a halt – from renewable energy contrivances to electrical cars. That’s why it shouldn’t be a surprise that even blockchain technology can put its two cents in helping the environment. Many people associate the blockchain mainly with cryptocurrencies, which isn’t wrong, however this decentralized application has so much more to offer than just enabling crypto transactions.
Believe it or not, there are many blockchain based projects which aim to improve the way we navigate the implementation of more eco-friendly practices and make it easier for scientists to monitor climate changes through advanced tech.
Why is the blockchain vital for saving the environment?
The first ever blockchain was made to be an open-source project, which means that everyone who is knowledgeable in code can review all the details behind the workings of the blockchain. This made it possible for ordinary tech entrepreneurs to make use of what was already done and add a few personal features, so that this new blockchain would serve their needs. That’s how endless opportunities were uncovered for those who were set to do something valuable for either a certain business model or societal demands.
As all personal information is no longer piled in massive folders, the competent institutions have started to store important data on hard drives and that’s why it has become easier and faster to deal with administrative tasks. The blockchain proposes a safer and more efficient software structure, which would keep track of all the collected information. This has made a revolution in the way people view technology, which will always be stigmatised for ease of manipulation and lack of security. Not only does the blockchain allow the storage of massive amounts of data but it also provides extra privacy due to the cryptographic hash functions it uses.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that the application of the blockchain is viable only in handling bureaucratic matters, it pioneers in creating solutions for environmental issues, through advanced and reliable monitoring and tracking.
Here are listed examples of the improvements the blockchain can help with reducing the negative human impact on nature:
Production companies can become more transparent about the amount of gas emissions they create and be held accountable when the standard isn’t fulfilled. The carbon tax can be applied in all sectors and its goal is to make everyone more conscious about their carbon footprint. It would even be ideal if this form of taxation is appointed to consumer goods based on the amount of greenhouse emissions emitted during its production. Thanks to the blockchain established monitoring systems the calculation of this tax would be more accurate.
Recycling has been offering a solution for managing plastic waste for the past couple of decades, however it isn’t the best way to deal with all types of polymers. The project TRACKCYCLE wants to put an end to losing track of the hard to recycle materials and the ones that are efficiently recycled. With the use of the blockchain they can provide data about the plastic entering each recycling facility and therefore improving the quality of the recycled polymers.
Supply chain optimization
It is very important for companies to establish an efficient production and distribution process, otherwise their products wouldn’t scale. Every individual and institution in the supply chain must follow tight schedules and that’s why mistakes and delays are common. But the blockchain can help improve the supply chain management by being incorporated in the tracking of all products – from the conveyor to the consumer.
Shifting to renewable energy is key to reducing our carbon footprint, but not all countries are prepared to make such a big change, mainly because wind and solar energy isn’t nearly as stable as traditional power resources. The Japanese company Ricoh has started using the blockchain to create a system which would give real time information about where renewable energy is being generated and where it’s being consummated. This would help the company find out the fairest way to distribute renewable energy and also enable trading it between parties.
Is the blockchain eco-friendly?
There is a lot of speculation surrounding the topic of sustainability and tech, because technology itself isn’t necessarily as eco-friendly as it should or even could be. That’s why it could be hard to trust something that preaches green changes, yet it itself contributes to the worsening of climate change, too.
And that’s the moment we have to break down the most significant factors upon which not only the blockchain but all tech related tools and services depend, in order to exist and function properly:
- Well established material and software infrastructure;
- Electrical energy;
- Human contribution;
- Stable Internet connection
It is obvious that without the latter it wouldn’t be possible to exploit any computer application, regardless of how helpful its utilization would be.
With that being said, all of tech advances rely on electricity and the Internet, which may be harder to supply in all parts of the world. Therefore, it has become more urgent to figure out how to deliver such commodities and to do it in a sustainable manner.
How Helium and The People’s Network help the environment
Blockchain based projects like Helium prove that sustainability, philanthropy and technology could be united for common good.
Briefly said, The People’s Network aims to create better Internet coverage worldwide, which would enable people in less developed and more distant locations to have Wi-Fi for both their personal or commercial needs. This is done with the help of IoT devices, which could be purchased by anyone and when exploited they create the so-called LoRaWAN. These gadgets are able to send radio signals in wider distances. Everyone who owns Helium’s device and contributes to the network is incentivised with the platform’s native coin – HNT.
That means that the network’s main purpose is to encourage individuals to do good deeds through providing Wi-Fi for those who are less fortunate and enable businesses to improve their work by incorporating smart technology.
Environmental monitoring in Helium’s ecosystem
As we have already cleared what The People’s network is and how it functions, the meaning of environmental monitoring should, too, be explained for better understanding of the way these two link together.
Environmental monitoring is the process of inspecting weather conditions, gathering information about the changes and trends in the state of the environment and using it for improving the agribusiness, the preservation of the flora and fauna and for shaping better principles regarding environmental law.
In general the process comprises collecting data, analyzing it and distributing it to the competent organizations which would do further research as to how the given information can affect the current and future life of people on Earth.
The most common types of environmental monitoring include tracking:
- Air quality
- Water levels
- Hazardous waste
- Temperature trends
- Wind currents
As we all know climate change has hit some communities harder than others. Natural disasters have become more common and due to lack of advanced monitoring it’s not possible to prepare beforehand. Property damages and life loss can’t be avoided unless there is trustworthy data about future weather conditions.
Of course, technology cannot be perceived as a fortune teller, however it makes all the calculations, which gives us a better grip on what could potentially occur and scientific facts can only back that up. But there are companies involved in efficient environment monitoring, which have partnered up with Helium to make their data collection more meticulous and helpful to humanity.
One of the most serious health compromising problems is air pollution – the fine particles we breathe in daily can cause severe respiratory problems along the way. It has become a priority for many governments to monitor the air quality, especially in bigger cities, however the citizens don’t always have access to such data and are not aware of how contaminated the air in their very own neighbourhood can be, especially during the colder months.
Airly is an app, which provides current information about the air quality both outside and indoors. Thanks to its partnership with Helium all Airly sensors are connected to its wireless network and can therefore give the latest details about the quality of air at this very moment and place.
Clean water is a true blessing many of us take for granted. With the long hot summers, wildfires and drought we have finally started to notice how important a resource aqua is. People have to be very reasonable with their water usage, in order to continue having water running out of the tap. Another big problem many people with older plumbing systems face is water leaks, which can be very devastating – not only are there unnecessary material damages but you also waste precious litres of water.
NOWI has a solution for water waste which is powered by The People’s network. The company sells special water meters, which are able to identify leaks and the moment an accident is detected, you’re immediately informed through the mobile app on your phone. This smart technology will send you notifications about unusual water usage, which is a significant starting point for resolving water waste.
It is easy to forget that climate change can also affect the way artefacts are being preserved. Conservation isn’t a one off activity, it requires constant attention and maintenance. Therefore the platform Conserv has come up with a proactive way to make sure that the conditions in which cultural heritage pieces are stored are suitable. The environment monitoring sensors can detect pest issues, moisture and temperature levels, which could be harmful for certain objects. With the help of Helium Conserv provides a wireless monitoring system, which enables people in the conservation sphere to keep track of the conditions determining their attempt at preserving what was left by previous generations.
InfiSense, too, works on improving the deployment of smart sensors, which contribute to finding better sustainable solutions for environmental monitoring and also the agribusiness. Thanks to these special devices data is easily collected and analyzed. The customers have access to real time information, upon which their next production strategy is established. Without Helium it wouldn’t be possible to track weather conditions in distanced areas, that’s why the greater the coverage of this wireless network is, the more data could be gathered and put into use.
Read more about How can blockchain technology improve smart agriculture
Although this technology has been created to solve problems regarding financial inequality, it is extremely versatile and therefore can be applied to different spheres. The adoption of the blockchain has picked up a bit in the last couple of years, however most of the projects incorporating it will need a lot of time to function as intended. Right now we have just a bunch of ideas but most often there isn’t a complete software product, which is ready for exploitation and public use.
There are pioneers in smart environment monitoring like the companies mentioned in this article and so far their performance has proven that these first steps in collaborating with blockchain based networks are more than successful. It is up to the level of worldwide adoption, whether or not more projects like these could be developed and used for the common benefit.
Zornitsa is the Editor-in-chief at Coinlabz. She is involved in researching the impact of blockchain technology and the way crypto is transforming peoples’ perceptions of finances.