The IoT (Internet of Things) is really growing. It is contributing the greater good. As one example, think about how the IoT is helping to create smarter cities. Smart cities contribute to a cleaner environment. They make it easier for people to get to work or school. And smart cities can support job creation and a healthy economy. IoT technology is also improving how we all get from point A to point B.

As we move toward a future in which vehicles are autonomous, this will free up valuable time for people who used to spend hours driving in traffic, and autonomous vehicles will also reduce traffic fatalities significantly.

The IoT is also contributing to the shift toward more patient-centered healthcare. Connected devices can help patients take more ownership and control over their own care, and it can move the needle toward a more proactive model of healthcare.

All of this contributes to better patient outcomes, and when people are healthy, they contribute more to society, and they’re in a better position to happily live their lives. These are just a few big-picture examples of how the IoT is making (or will make) people’s lives better.

One aspect of today’s world that is not better than it was in the past is all these mass shootings we’re seeing. In this column, we’ve addressed these senseless acts of violence before in conjunction with first-response technologies, but I’m bringing it up right now because we need to find new ways to get help to those who are struggling with their mental health.

How can technology play a role in getting help to those who need it, when they need it? The fact is there are several ways, but here’s one that is really interesting. A team of mental-health and technology professionals decided to apply their various talents to create a solution called Woebot, which leverages AI (artificial intelligence) to bring mental health coaching to more people.

It’s an impressive idea. Woebot launched last summer with the goal of creating “radically accessible mental health.” Today, it’s used by hundreds of thousands of people, ranging from 16 to 90-years-old in more than 100 countries.

Woebot is an artificially intelligent app that draws on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy to provide tools that could help users in their moments of need. It offers intelligent coaching—a sort of DIY (do-it-yourself) cognitive behavioral therapy that, in some cases, can help people get through tough times.

The founders of Woebot and apps like it say robots can’t replace the services provided by a human psychologist, but for people struggling with anxiety and depression, any help is better than no help. Solutions like this are a great way the IoT is creating a better world.

We’re making services accessible that were once inaccessible, thanks to the convenience of mobile devices, apps, and the sophisticated technology behind these apps.

Another point that is worth noting is last month the nation had its eyes on California as home after home, acre after acre, was destroyed by wildfires. Unfortunately, scientists are warning us that natural disasters like wildfires are going to get worse thanks to earth’s changing climate.

How can technology help? There are many ways, but one comes from a Spanish startup called Drone Hopper. Drone Hopper creates firefighting drones that can go where firefighters can’t.

They offer two versions of their firefighting drone—the urban hopper for high-rise buildings and homes and wild hopper, which is suitable for wildfires. The drones incorporate “nebulization” technology, which cools the devices by mist evaporation, radiation blockage, and oxygen removal.

The devices are equipped with thermographic cameras and navigation systems that work night and day. They send realtime data from the site of the fire, providing decisionmakers with critical information about things like terrain conditions, atmospheric conditions, and fire intensity.

When first responders can make more informed decisions in realtime, they’re going to be more prepared to coordinate emergency teams, execute evacuation procedures, and, in general, fight these fires more successfully.

Let’s look at one more example of another company making our world a better place. A company called Aclima has developed a sensing platform that combines cloud computing and machine learning to collect and analyze data that can add to society’s “environmental intelligence.” In other words, by strategically leveraging sensor technology, Aclima is addressing the global need for hyperlocal, actionable information about air pollution and climate emissions—particularly in urban areas.

Leveraging technology to enhance climate science is definitely for the greater good. It will be interesting to see how companies like Aclima use this data to help us understand and manage our communities, cities, and industries.

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