IoT to predict extreme climate events


The use of technology such as IoT in combating climate change is ever more essential for businesses and governments to meet sustainability goals.

The recent increase in extreme weather conditions across the globe is one example of such effects, resulting in incidents of wildfires – as seen in the elongated wildfire seasons in California, caused by dry weather conditions – as well as floods and infrastructure failure, all of which come with a threat to life.

However, being prepared makes a difference. Last year the fewest acres burned in California since 2019 largely thanks to steps taken to help monitor, mitigate, and importantly, predict issues.

“It’s here that technologies such as artificial intelligence, internet of things (IoT), and data and analytics play an important role, said Bjorn Andersson, senior director, global IoT at Hitachi Vantara. “While in the short term it’s difficult to prevent weather-related issues, the ability to detect these earlier and ensure preparations are in place enables us to better manage our response.

“Today, we’ve come so far that we can deploy predictive maintenance, which prevents catastrophe by detecting possible defects in infrastructure. By studying infrastructure and systems in real time, analysis of IoT data can forecast when and how a malfunction might occur, with these insights then informing teams of the need to proactively fix any issues – before they result in failure.”

Hitachi Vantara’s AI-based Lumada Inspection Insights enables intelligent infrastructure monitoring, allowing critical infrastructure such as electric substations to be monitored remotely. Such insights can help prevent unexpected downtime in equipment and enable teams to optimise maintenance schedules and minimise repair times, closing the response gap when urgent instances of extreme weather conditions need to be responded to.

“Technology like this can be used in a myriad of ways to protect our environment,” said Andersson. “Another example can be seen in our work with Rainforest Connection, through which we’ve developed a data and AI-driven solution to help predict illegal rainforest activity and shorten rangers’ time to site where illegal logging is detected. How did we do this? First, we took years of eco-acoustic data collected by Rainforest Connection’s ‘Guardian’ system – Guardians being devices installed high in the rainforest canopy to collect sounds. Then, using our Lumada data analytics technology, we developed a baseline of forest background sounds and built predictive algorithms and AI to detect anomalies such as voices, engines or disturbed birds flying up – sounds that often precede logging.

“Data and analytics can also help with things like smart farming, enabling farmers to assess the right amount of fertilizer and water that should be used for maximum production and minimal impact on the environment. Ultimately, we’re constantly realising new possibilities of how we can utilise AI, IoT and data and analytics to guide more rapid and effective responses and help protect our environment. This is something that is truly exciting – and the fact is that in today’s world, making use of such technology is more important than ever.”

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