How IoT is advancing pest control innovations to improve food safety

Any Web-connected product – which could be a smartphone, kettle, heating system, or a computer system in a car – has the potential to be linked to other devices and computer systems to form part of the Internet of Things (IoT).

The opportunities for IoT-enabled networks are endless and the pace of change is so quick that it’s hard to imagine what IoT solutions will look like in the future or to what extent they could change our lives.

No wonder, then, that IoT is such a hotbed of expectation and exploration – not just for B2C applications but for industrial uses, too.

The future of pest control and food safety

IoT applications can address many of the pest challenges that the food industry will face in the years ahead. The number of active IoT devices globally is expected to grow to 10 billion by 2020 and 22 billion by 2025. The huge volumes of data generated from these devices can be analysed to provide new actionable insights to help improve business operations, systems and processes.

For pest control, environmental data can be combined with data automatically collected from connected pest control devices to identify regions and facilities that are particularly vulnerable to pest infestations. Comparing historical and current data trends to make informed predictions about the future can help forecast the likelihood of pest infestations.

Pest-controllers can then use this knowledge to take proactive and precautionary measures in a highly targeted approach to pest management. This will save time and money and reduce interruptions to business operations.

Using remote monitoring to gather data on pest activity

The development of IoT enabled devices in pest control allows food businesses across the supply chain to continuously monitor pest activity. One such system comprises a range of connected devices that detect, capture or kill pests. These devices and traps are fully integrated with an online customer portal that provides 24/7 access to pest-management reporting. The portal also includes trends, recommendations and analytics tools to support pest-control audits.

The primary advantages of connected devices for pest control are that they can monitor pest activity in places that are difficult to observe or have no personnel present, on a round-the-clock basis and without needing to interrupt operations.

Rentokil has an ecosystem of over 70,000 IoT-enabled devices that continually transmit new data that augments the information already gathered manually by pest-control technicians. This combination dramatically increases the volume of data in the process.

This accumulated data is then automatically fed into an online pest management system where it can be analysed and cross-referenced with third-party data.

Use of drones to collect data

Rentokil developed a bespoke drone fitted with a thermal imaging camera to show changes in temperature in fields of agricultural crops to help with detecting infestations of rodents. The drone was also fitted with multispectral camera that could survey CO2 levels, water and chlorophyll levels in plant leaves to indicate crop health and leaf area index. This data was used to target pest control measures more effectively.

In the future, automated drone systems with a range of sensors could be connected to an IoT network to continuously collect data over large areas to monitor pests and provide insights for improving pest control.

IoT can help food businesses maintain high food-safety standards

Looking at the above examples, it’s clear that the data generated by IoT devices can bring about significant changes to bolster food safety standards. However, data becomes valuable and maximised to its full potential only when it is analysed or aggregated with other sources.  In this way, actionable insights can evolve to drive innovation and enable measurable, tangible and proactive improvements in pest management.

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Jack Lyons

I joined the Marketing and Innovation team at Rentokil in 2015, and my mind has quickly become accustomed to the weird and wonderful world of pests. Outside of work my main hobby is music, being a huge fan of bands such as Queen and Led Zeppelin as well as being an avid drummer.

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