Start your project today+48-512-084-372

IoT in environment protection

IoT in environmental protection

The development of industry and the related desire to improve the quality of life brought many benefits to man, but also caused negative effects, causing degradation of the natural environment on a local and global scale. Soil, water and air have been contaminated. The effects of a high degree of human interference in the environment may be irreversible and threaten the life of many organisms in the future, including human life. According to the World Health Organization, as much as 75% of all human diseases are caused by the poor condition of the natural environment1[1].

The main causes of environmental pollution (Fig. 1) include:

Fig. 1 The main causes of environmental pollution

The progressive development of analytical technology and chemistry makes it possible to detect the presence and determination of even small concentrations of toxic substances, track their transformations and analyse their impact on the environment. All such activities are called environmental monitoring.


Environmental monitoring may cover the area of influence of a local industrial plant, country, continent, or the world, as well as concern all or specific elements (e.g., water, soil, air). Monitoring includes measurements of the level of pollution, referred to as imission. The immission is strictly related to the emission amount.


Measurements of immission and emissions are an extremely important element in the environmental monitoring system. Knowledge about the size and extent of environmental pollution is one of the most important pillars of modern environmental science. Without specifying these values, it is impossible to carry out effective actions leading to the improvement of the quality of the natural environment. Traditional environmental analytical methods developed for the routine monitoring of water, soil and air pollution mostly require the use of measuring equipment, often large, heavy, and very expensive.

Due to high flexibility and low costs, the use of the Internet of Things in environmental research is becoming more and more popular[2].


IoT application based on terrestrial sensors

The Internet of Things offers great opportunities in the field of nature protection and environmental research thanks to the use of devices that communicate with each other on the basis of interconnected nodal devices. Environmental research with the use of IoT is based, among others, on the use of various sensors that collect information from the studied environment, and then send the collected data to the medium connected to them, where the data can be analyzed in order to take appropriate actions, primarily aimed at environmental protection. An exemplary scheme for collecting environmental data using IoT is shown in    Fig. 2. Sensor nodes interact with the environment and collect data that is processed by microcontrollers and then forwarded to end devices using wireless technologies. The obtained data is stored in a database that is accessible to users through the configured application layer interface[3].


Fig. 2 Collection, processing and visualization of environmental data based on IoT

Application of IoT based on satellite research

Recently, satellite research has become more and more popular. The EU’s Copernicus program operates on the basis of a combination of satellite observations and in situ research. This program is coordinated and managed by the European Commission. The Copericus program is implemented in cooperation with the Member States, the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), the EU agencies and Mercator Ocean.

The Copernicus program is used for Earth observation, where the planet and its environment are analyzed to obtain maximum benefits for the citizens of the European Union. The program covers the availability of information services based on satellite Earth observation and in situ data (mainly data available from ground-based research stations). Users have free access to information services provided under the program. For the Copernicus program, a set of special satellites (Sentinel) was launched and supporting missions (commercial and public satellites) began. The Copernicus program also collects information from in situ systems such as ground stations that transmit data obtained by numerous sensors on land, at sea or in the air. This activity has been improved by dividing Copernicus services into six thematic areas: the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service (CMEMS), the Copernicus Land Monitoring Service (CLMS), the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S ), the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS) and the Copernicus Security Service. Radar data can be helpful in monitoring river levels, determining air quality and atmosphere composition, and controlling water quality in seas and oceans, among others. More detailed application of selected sectors in environmental research will be discussed in the following chapters (see chapter …).

Satellite remote sensing

With the launch of the Sentinel mission, the quality of the supplied satellite data became good enough to be used for remote sensing analysis in environmental research. Satellite remote sensing conducts research remotely using specialized sensors. Remote sensing is possible due to the existence of electromagnetic radiation. It is the radiation emitted by every object in the Universe (eg stars, planets). Raw satellite data is subjected to a series of processes aimed at creating an orthophotomap – a product analogous to traditional aerial photomaps and that can be integrated with other cartographic or geodetic material. This integration usually takes place through the Geographic Information System (GIS), i.e. an information system designed for geographic data, i.e. all kinds of spatially referenced data (localized on the Earth’s surface through a geodetic or geographic coordinate system). GIS provides tools for entering, storing, analyzing and visualizing spatial data. Orthophotomaps are an important tool in environmental research. Thanks to them, environmentalists can, for example, create maps of the distribution of an endangered species in a specific area, track changes in land cover, prepare protection plans for selected areas, and even observe the extent of natural disasters, such as drought or flood. An additional advantage of using remote sensing methods in environmental monitoring is the speed of research and the low cost of environmental observations without even going out into the field. An example of a website providing access to spatial data services is the Polish This portal is a modern way of sharing spatial information – it enables the combination of spatial data sets from various resources and combines them into a coherent whole, which is available free of charge in electronic form. The interactive map viewer includes tools suitable for finding and analyzing spatial data. In turn, the generally available and relatively easy to use geographic information system is the QGIS geoinformation software, running on Linux, Mac OS X, Windows and Android. QGIS allows you to manage geographic data, create your own data and maps, and perform spatial analyzes.

Fig. 3

Data visualization

Data collected with the use of IoT technology can be presented to the end user, inter alia, by:

Modern technologies and tools provide new possibilities for monitoring and analyzing the state of the environment. The combination of environmental education, satellite observations, big data and artificial intelligence allows for an increasingly accurate analysis of the quality of the environment. Based on IoT technology, we can therefore reduce costs and quickly and easily collect and analyze data (Fig. 3).

Fig. 4 Monitoring pollution

Benefits of the use of IoT in environmental research


[1] Stepnowski P., Synak E., Szafranek B., Kaczyński Z. 2010. Monitoring i analityka zanieczyszczeń w środowisku. Uniwersytet Gdański, Gdańsk.

[2] Parmar G., Lakhani S., Chattopadhyay M.K. (2017, October). An IoT based low cost air pollution monitoring system. In 2017 International Conference on Recent Innovations in Signal processing and Embedded Systems (RISE), pp.524-528.

[3] Arora J., Pandya U., Shah S., Doshi N. 2019. Survey- Pollution Monitoring using IoT. Procedia Computer Science, 155, 710-715.