Environmental field monitoring technologies have advanced rapidly in the last decade, concurrent with advances in digital technology, computational power and Internet-enabled communications. Environmental sensors have become much smaller, faster and often less expensive. Advances in air-sensing technologies, in particular, now enable rapid retrieval of time-critical pollution data on a large scale. Fast, low-cost sensors afford the possible networking of multiple units within a sensor grid network so that even street-level monitoring can be achieved.
Several governments across the globe are playing an active role in funding and encouraging environmental monitoring programs, thereby keeping the growth in the global market buoyant. In the U.S. market alone, some $250 billion of economic output stems from all pollution control and monitoring activities each year. Among the faster-growing segments of this business are the markets for sophisticated sensors; monitoring equipment; large-scale networks, such as satellite, GPS and remote sensing; associated networking equipment and ancillaries; and a large slate of new technologies. Globally, the markets for environmental sensors and the related subsegments account for approximately $13 billion of economic activity at present, with a projected average annual growth of 5.9% through 2019, according to a BCC Research report.
Among the key trends in the environmental sensors industry are miniaturization down to the nano scale, continuous and/or real-time sensing capabilities, wireless networked operation, rapid processing, and increased sensitivity or flexibility. Dominant trends in the sensors business include the development of more large-scale monitoring systems, such as remote sensing and satellite-based large-area sensors. Private companies are now getting into the environmental monitoring satellite business. Mobile environmental sensing systems are being increasingly tested and proposed for urban areas. Such systems are used to identify and monitor urban air pollution events, and correlations can be made between resulting data and levels of local transport or industrial activity. A new public housing estate in Singapore, to be launched in 2015 in the Punggol Northshore district, will install sensors to monitor residents’ waste disposal. The housing authority will then analyze the data collected to deploy resources for waste collection. The district will also feature other smart technologies such as intelligent car parking areas and smart lighting.
The United States 2009 Economic Recovery Act provided additional hundreds of millions of dollars for research on environmental monitoring and sensors to U.S. entities such as the EPA, the DOE, NASA and certain government labs. Advancements have been made in networking from space; with additional satellites, networked coverage of the globe’s surface is becoming ever more comprehensive. China successfully launched the Yaogan-21 remote sensing satellite from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in September 2014. Yaogan-21 will be used for scientific experiments, natural resource surveys, estimation of crop yield and disaster relief.
In light of the now-numerous international reports on climate change that confirm man’s considerable impact on the environment, scientists agree that more sophisticated monitoring programs are urgently needed to detect ecological changes before they become irreversible. The surging need to monitor emissions continues to fuel the need to develop more sensitive and cost-effective environmental sensors. Nanotechnology and micro-electromechanical technology improvements in sensor development, design, and production, are expected to benefit the market. Nanotechnology enables sensors to be selective in the detection of multiple analytes and enables monitoring their presence in real time. The sensors business is a very dynamic area of the economy, and thus it is a sector with huge profit-making potential if one can correctly identify future opportunities in environmental sensing.
For our relevant BCC Research report on environmental sensing and monitoring technologies, visit the following link: