By Jordan Green |
Currently there are about 10 billion devices connected to the Internet. That’s a lot of computing power connected to the all-knowing Internet, which may save our planet.
This past holiday season, one in five Americans did their shopping online, according to an Econsultancy survey, that’s an increase of about six percent over the previous year.
Shopping online cuts down on the greenhouse gases we emit when we travel to the store and reduces paper, because you don’t get a printed receipt, unless you print it yourself.
Although most technologies haven’t reduced the amount of paper we consume, email has certainly cut the number of letters we send through the post office.
Last December, the Canadian government announced plans to end door-to-door mail delivery to most urban areas, to cut costs. Canada Post delivered one billion fewer items in 2012 than it did in 2006. The government-run company says letter mail volume fell by 6.4 per cent in 2012, down from their 2011 amounts.
Although the United States hasn’t gone as far as their neighbors to the north, a similar pattern has emerged in the decline of “snail mail.” According to the United States Postal Service, total mail volume has fallen from 213.1 billion pieces delivered in 2006 down to 160 billion pieces of mail delivered in 2012.
Through the Internet, email, instant messaging, even ecards, have all cut down on the amount of paper we use to communicate with each other.
Instant communications may save trees, but also warn us of what’s too come.
Scientists and other thinker-types can instantly compare their findings from anywhere to anyone else anywhere around the world. The Canadian-created Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN), helps medical researchers uncover global threats to human health, by connecting medical researchers around the globe.
GPHIN has given the World Health Organization (WHO) a heads-up about numerous outbreaks posing a threat to human health, helping squash potential pandemics.
The same sort of thing is slowly happening with researchers studying our planet, our atmosphere, and all the elements of our environment, which may one day prevent a global environmental disaster.
Researchers studying birds and coral reefs are already connected online, and spotting changes in their respective areas of study, which show signs of climate change.
Birds change their migratory paths as global weather patterns fluctuate, while coral reefs die and disappear from areas once carpeted with them, as the climate warms.
However, today’s Internet is dumb when compared to the future all-knowing Internet, which may save our planet.
Ultimately, the smarter Internet of the future will take all of our connected devices, interconnect them, to save us and the planet.
Most major urban areas already have a centrally controlled traffic management system, which monitors major roads and highways. Automotive manufacturers are building on that, by designing technologies that plug into those systems, over an Internet connection.
Last month, Audi announced their latest take on this, a traffic light assist technology that shows the driver what color the traffic light is up ahead in their dashboard. It also tells you how long that light will remain that color.
This allows the driver to manually adjust their speed to make the next light, to avoid the gas-guzzling stop and go breaking used in city driving.
Taking it further, and using the technology that keeps some cars separated from each other while in cruise control, the smarter Internet of the future would automatically adjust the car’s speed to ensure smooth and even flow throughout the city’s traffic grid.
Where a typical person can calculate speed and distance in seconds, a computer can make the same calculations in fractions of a second.
Saving fuel, this system would also save us, because it would prevent fatalities from people running red lights.
The American government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is exploring completely connected traffic systems, with self-driving cars.
The smarter Internet of the future would connect your car to all the other vehicles on the road, and all the traffic management systems en-route, plotting the most efficient course, which could change instantly based on traffic. Your car would be “aware” of where all the other vehicles are, the colors of the lights, even the pedestrians and cyclists in your path. You’d just sit back and let your connected car drive you where you needed to go safely, using the least amount of fuel, meaning the least amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the air.
That’s ultimately how the all-knowing Internet may one day save our planet – by connecting us and our technologies to essentially do the things we do today, far more efficiently and effectively than we ever could do.