IoT and satellites are great allies to accelerate sustainable actions

Rede IoT para monitoramento ESG
Sheila Zabeu -

March 02, 2023

Accelerating sustainable actions with a focus on key environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues is challenging, but the satellite-enabled Internet of Things can be a great ally by making it easier to collect the data associated with these issues. Automating and digitizing the data capture process to collect granular, real-time results is becoming increasingly essential to help organizations accurately track their ESG progress, as well as generate meaningful data to share with third parties to help improve sustainability practices more broadly.

Think of the value of being able to quickly identify — and even prevent — oil or gas leaks to reduce any negative environmental impact and ensure employee safety. Or of being able to improve water use in agriculture, where satellite IoT monitoring in the field ensures full visibility of crop cultivation by analysing data from a variety of factors, such as soil moisture conditions and pest monitoring.

Collecting data for ESG reporting is a key issue for information reliability reasons. According to a new Inmarsat study, the majority of business leaders (76%) across major industries doubt their peers’ reports, highlighting the need for robust, granular data to back up sustainability claims and build sector trust.

The survey gathered feedback from over 1,000 technology and ESG decision-makers in the agriculture, mining, transportation, utilities, and oil and gas segments. Respondents also reported concern about their peers’ ESG priorities, with 80% stating that competitors are more focused on perception than tangible sustainability outcomes.

Technology professionals tend to be more sceptical than their ESG colleagues, with 84% of technology respondents convinced that misrepresentation around advances in sustainability is common, compared to 67% of ESG respondents.

Lack of trust in sustainability statements is no longer just a concern for companies’ image, but is becoming a growing liability risk. As reported by Reuters, litigation involving misleading ESG statements is emerging, and financial regulators are stepping up their enforcement around ESG reporting. In addition, various reporting norms, standards, and demands are making ESG reporting more complex and time-consuming, often delaying business and sustainability actions.

The survey results suggest that a lack of verifiable data-and a willingness to share it-is undermining trust and slowing progress on business sustainability. However, many believe that data collected through IoT solutions is essential to building trust (81%) and improving ESG outcomes, overall (82%).

IoT ensures transparency

The good news is that there appears to be alignment and optimism among technology and ESG leaders about using IoT solutions to overcome these challenges, according to the study. IoT can ensure more transparency in ESG reporting and also measure and monitor progress against ESG targets.

Reporting this optimism in numbers, the study highlights that four in five respondents plan to increase their use of IoT solutions in the next 12 months to more accurately measure and understand the impact of sustainability initiatives. A similar proportion reported that they are already getting a return on investment from IoT tools used to improve sustainability levels (78%).

Furthermore, the majority of respondents agree that IoT is key to improving operational efficiency (84%) and business results (82%).

As an example of use cases for IoT in sustainable actions, a third of respondents (32%) expect to use it to feed ESG reports in a more transparent and robust way and help alleviate trust issues. More than half (54%) believe IoT will be essential to improving the sustainability of supply chains, enabling more ethical and efficient actions and helping meet Scope 3 emissions targets. Three-quarters (72%) expect IoT to play an important role in strengthening their environmental stances, contributing to reducing energy and water consumption, generating fewer pollutants and improving biodiversity.

The value of IoT solutions to help companies measure, analyse and report on the real progress of their ESG goals is clear to all
Source: Inmarsat

Obstacles to be faced

While the majority (83%) agree they could be doing more to effectively exploit IoT solutions to generate ESG data, resistance to sharing this data creates an additional barrier to advancing sustainability. Only 47% said they would feel comfortable sharing all ESG data with a third party to enhance reporting and benchmarking in the next one to three years. This reinforces that increasing trust will be critical to achieving better results.

Besides, hesitation to share data, companies face other challenges when it comes to getting the most out of IoT solutions, such as those related to costs, lack of expertise, compatibility and always-on, reliable connectivity.

Implementing IoT solutions can be complicated
Source: Inmarsat

In relation to connectivity, satellite-enabled IoT provides the coverage needed across a wide range of industries, with some valuable data points for ESG — such as monitoring the use of natural resources like water and electricity, air pollution, water pollution and even waste generation and disposal — being created in the most inaccessible places.

The connections can help directly extract data the global supply chain from even the most inhospitable locations with high reliability and low latency, while geostationary constellations can specifically provide businesses with high-quality connections to various active movements on land, sea and air

Positively, businesses are already increasingly seeing satellite networks as key to enabling optimal IoT connectivity, ensuring the robustness and resilience of connections regardless of how remote and even challenging the environment. More than a third (36%) of companies are currently using satellite for their IoT solutions, with these networks set to become the most popular connectivity method for IoT in the future, with half of all respondents (50%) expecting to leverage their capabilities in the next 10 years.