Green Coding and IT Energy Consumption: The Impact of IoT
Welcome to the sixth instalment of our “Green Coding and IT Energy Consumption” series. In our previous blog post, we explored the energy-intensive world of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. We discussed blockchain’s decentralised nature and its role in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, along with the energy challenges it poses. Additionally, we looked at the energy consumption of various cryptocurrencies.
In this post, we study the Internet of Things (IoT) and its significant implications for energy consumption. The IoT is rapidly transforming the way we connect, monitor, and control devices, but as its influence grows, so does its energy footprint.
The Rise of the Internet of Things
The Internet of Things is a technology that enables devices to communicate, share data, and be remotely monitored and controlled through an internet connection. It encompasses a wide range of applications, from smart homes to industrial automation systems, where devices gather data and use it to make intelligent decisions.
Currently, there are approximately 14.4 billion IoT devices connected to the internet, a number projected to surge to 29.7 billion units by the end of 2027, with an estimated annual growth rate of 16%. Notably, machine-to-machine connections account for about half of these devices, highlighting the widespread adoption of IoT in various sectors. The IoT landscape includes diverse segments, with smart home devices as the largest and internet-connected vehicles as the fastest-growing.
Moreover, it’s crucial to consider IoT devices operating in closed networks, like sensors within factory environments. The sheer volume of IoT devices, coupled with their continuous growth, demands attention when it comes to energy consumption.
Understanding Energy Consumption in IoT
IoT devices, such as sensors, are typically designed with energy efficiency in mind. They often run on primary or secondary (rechargeable) batteries, providing long-term operation. For instance, a sensor monitoring humidity embedded within concrete or concealed within a wall may need its battery replaced only every few years or even a decade.
However, when IoT devices draw power from measurable sources, the energy consumed during operation becomes less critical, particularly if it eliminates the need for frequent battery replacement.
Energy consumption in IoT can be adjusted through various parameters:
Sampling Frequency: This refers to how often the device takes measurements. Devices can record data instantaneously, track trends over time, or focus on monitoring events that surpass specific thresholds. The choice affects energy consumption.
Data Transmission Channel: IoT devices connect to the internet using different methods, including WLAN, mobile networks, and home automation protocols like Zigbee and Z-Wave. These networks have varying energy efficiency levels, with some being significantly more power-efficient than others.
Data Transmission Frequency: Devices can send data with each measurement or bundle multiple measurements into a single packet for transmission. The latter approach conserves energy related to data transfer but may compromise real-time capabilities and add complexity.
Sample Size: The amount of information included in each sample significantly impacts data transmission energy consumption. For instance, compressing data before transmission can save energy.
These parameters are closely linked to the nature of the measured variable and the specific use case. Selecting the right devices and sensors for a system should take precedence before considering energy consumption control.
The Energy Cost of Data Processing
Beyond data capture, the energy consumption in IoT extends to data processing and analysis. Data obtained from sensors must be stored, interpreted, and analysed. This process consumes energy, with consumption increasing in proportion to the volume of data processed.
To manage energy consumption effectively, it’s essential to:
Consider data retention periods and employ solutions that reduce data volume, such as time series databases.
Use techniques like data filtering to focus on pertinent information.
Recognise that unused data is wasteful and consider alternative approaches when detailed device-level tracking is unnecessary.
The Internet of Things holds immense potential for revolutionising how we interact with our environment and devices. However, its exponential growth brings with it significant energy consumption challenges. As IoT continues to shape our world, it’s vital to strike a balance between harnessing its benefits and minimising its environmental impact.
In the upcoming installment of our series on Green Coding and IT Energy Consumption, we will delve into a critical aspect of the IT landscape: data management in the face of an ever-growing data flood. The exponential growth in data volume, propelled by diverse sources like analytics, social media activities, and user-generated content, necessitates a strategic approach to ensure sustainable energy consumption.