Information Systems for Environmental Sustainability

IT, Resource Productivity, Environmental Preservation, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Smaller Devices, Bigger Data: How Smart (Everything) Enhances Sustainability

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Making buildings, cars, electric grids, and homes “smart” involves sensor grids pushing real-time continuous data to analytics software programs that turn that messy data into useful information. The process is now underway and leads to exponential growth in the amount of data that can be leveraged for better management of energy, water, hazardous substances, CO2, and so forth. So, smaller devices lead to bigger data. As Joel Makower at Greenbiz puts it:

Or consider the data streaming from an office building equipped with sensors and smart devices. IBM placed more than 250,000 sensors within a 3.3 million-square-foot manufacturing site in Minnesota. It sampled only a subset of them every 15 minutes, collecting 2.15 million points of data per month. A Microsoft pilot at its Redmond, Wash., campus looked at public and private data for a subset of its buildings and gathered 500 million data points a day. All this data can allow you to make buildings more efficient and more comfortable — if you know how to harness it.

Much of the data doesn’t sit still. For example, as smart, electric-powered cars hit the roads, they’ll be streaming data to and from the electric grid, IT-embedded “smart roadways,” charging stations, the driver, other vehicles, and navigational equipment — all at the same time. Collecting and crunching all this data in microseconds could go a long way toward allowing vehicles to travel hyper-efficiently and safely, saving time and fuel.

These are glimpses into the tsunami of information that’s bearing down on companies, governments, and others — the leading edge of a wave of products and services harnessing big data to reduce waste and improve efficiency, and make big profits along the way.

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Author: nigelpm

Associate Professor of Information Systems, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan - Helping organizations to navigate digital transformation.

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