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The Role of IoT in Natural Capital Management: Measuring to Make Things Matter

Environmental Monitoring technology in a forest


“In a rapidly changing climate, with unsustainable development and use of resources, the general outlook for our environment is deteriorating”


It’s not all doom and gloom, as many passionate people and organisations are working to protect and regenerate Earth’s environment.


At Indicium Dynamics, we consider ourselves part of this passionate group of people wanting to make a difference. Our solutions leverage monitoring technologies to provide insights into both our built and natural environment, enhancing the positive impact of decision-making on our society and the environment.


Through our work with clients and collaborations with research partners, it is becoming glaringly apparent that any attempt to change how we perceive, manage, and improve our global stock of natural capital hinges on the collection of high-quality, credible data. Our Head of Natural Capital Strategy, Tahnee, elaborates on this in our previous blog post Natural Capital 101.


Data is a necessity for natural capital management, not just a nice to have


In the realm of sustainable environmental management, the visibility of phenomena is vital. This means that we need data that makes the decline in our natural capital visible, to demonstrate that this decline matters and to justify the need for action.


We need to measure our natural capital resources over time to show that the impact of human activity (both good and bad) matters for the sustainability of the Earth's biodiversity and natural resources.


We need good quality data to make visible the evidence that will inform decision-making that leads to actions that matter.


Get the gist?


One way to effectively generate this visibility is through the Internet of Things (IoT). The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the network of physical objects—“things”—that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies to connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet.



Here are some ways IoT supports efforts to improve our management of natural capital.


1. Real-Time Data Collection


One of the primary advantages of IoT in natural capital management is its ability to collect real-time data from the environment. This includes a wide range of metrics such as temperature, humidity, soil moisture levels, water quality, and much more. IoT sensors deployed across forests, rivers, oceans, and urban settings can monitor the health of these ecosystems continuously, providing data that is both timely and precise.

 

2. Enhanced Monitoring and Conservation Efforts

 

IoT technology enables detailed and continuous monitoring of natural resources. For instance, sensors can track the health of plant species and the movements of wildlife, providing insights into habitat conditions and the effects of human activity. This level of monitoring is vital for conservation efforts, helping to preserve our biodiversity.

Indicium is currently working with industry and research partners to develop and launch research projects to train and further develop artificial intelligence species identification models, to better protect Australian biodiversity from threats associated with climate change, non-native predators, and human activities.



3. Improved Resource Management

 

IoT facilitates better management of natural resources by providing data that can help manage and optimise the use of water, energy, and minerals. Smart irrigation is a prime example, where sensor data builds a picture of irrigation needs using metrics such as rainfall and soil moisture levels to determine the best time to irrigate.


The End User Control System developed by Indicium for Parkes Shire Council is a great example of the use of water monitoring technologies to support water use efficiencies. This solution involved the installation of IoT sensors and controllers to develop smart irrigation practices across open spaces in the Parkes region, ensuring that parks and green spaces remain green without needing to draw from the drinking water supply.

Water monitoring technology at Parkes Shire Council

 4. Pollution Control and Environmental Protection

 

IoT devices play a critical role in pollution monitoring by providing real-time data on air and water quality. This information helps in quick decision-making and immediate response to pollution incidents. For example, IoT sensors can detect harmful levels of chemicals in water bodies, triggering alerts for immediate remedial actions to protect aquatic life and water quality.

 

5. Evidence for mandatory reporting of environmental impact


Globally, there is a growing trend towards enhancing corporate responsibility and transparency regarding environmental impacts. A challenge faced by many organisations relates to being able to collect data efficiently and accurately. IoT devices solve this challenge, providing data on resource use, emissions, and other environmental metrics, without requiring a significant investment of time for manual observations. Data can be used to monitor and reduce environmental footprint, enhance operational efficiency, and improve compliance with environmental standards.


Indicium is currently assisting some clients in monitoring energy use across their organisations, both for reporting purposes for ESG certifications like B Corp, and to map energy use to implement and track the impact of energy-saving initiatives. You can read about these solutions below:


  

6. Enabling Sustainable Development


IoT contributes directly to sustainable development by optimising the use and conservation of natural resources. If you look at Indicium’s website, we include references to the Sustainable Development Goals that our solutions support, which include the following:



As the world grapples with environmental degradation, climate change, and resource depletion, IoT stands out as a crucial technology in the arsenal of natural capital management tools. It offers a pathway to understand, protect, and sustainably manage our planet's vital natural resources. By harnessing the power of IoT, we can ensure a healthier planet for future generations, proving that technology and nature can coexist in harmony.


 

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