Top 5 ways businesses are leveraging satellite IoT

Explore how non-terrestrial networks (NTN) and satellite IoT are revolutionizing connectivity

The Particle Team article author avatarThe Particle TeamApril 12, 2024
Top 5 ways businesses are leveraging satellite IoT

Although the Internet of Things has enabled massive networks of connected devices, sensors, and machines, traditional terrestrial networks often fail to provide coverage in remote, hard-to-reach areas, limiting the potential of IoT applications. This is where non-terrestrial networks (NTN) and satellite IoT come into play, complementing terrestrial infrastructure to enable truly global connectivity.

By leveraging satellites and other non-terrestrial platforms, NTN solutions expand the reach of IoT to even the most remote locations. This opens up a world of possibilities, with transformative potential across sectors such as agriculture, logistics, industrial monitoring, environmental monitoring, and smart cities. Let’s explore some of the exciting use cases made possible by NTN and satellite IoT.

Smart irrigation | Agriculture

Agriculture often faces connectivity challenges due to the remote and rural locations of farms and ag operations. These areas often have limited or unreliable cellular coverage, making it difficult to implement IoT solutions for precision agriculture and remote monitoring.

With NTN and satellite IoT, farmers can leverage smart irrigation systems equipped with satellite-connected soil moisture sensors that enable remote monitoring of soil conditions in real-time, even in areas with limited cellular coverage. These sensors can collect data on moisture levels, temperature, and other environmental factors, which can be analyzed to optimize irrigation schedules and automatically adjust watering based on current conditions and weather forecasts.

Smart irrigation

By precisely delivering water when and where it’s needed, smart irrigation systems powered by NTN and satellite IoT can significantly reduce water consumption while improving crop yields and quality. This not only helps farmers save on water costs but also contributes to more sustainable agricultural practices. Additionally, the ability to remotely monitor and control irrigation systems can save farmers time and labor, allowing them to focus on other critical tasks.

Other agricultural applications of NTN and satellite IoT:

  • Livestock tracking and monitoring: Smart ear tags or collars can monitor cattle location, health, and behavior, helping prevent losses due to theft or predators and allowing early detection and treatment of diseases.
  • Crop health monitoring: Multispectral imaging sensors can provide detailed data on crop health, allowing farmers to identify and address issues like nutrient deficiencies or pest infestations early on.
  • Remote equipment management: Satellite IoT can enable remote monitoring and control of agricultural equipment, helping optimize performance and schedule maintenance proactively.
  • Environmental monitoring: Pervasive sensing of weather conditions, air and soil quality, and other environmental factors can provide valuable data for precision agriculture and sustainability efforts.

Cold chain monitoring for perishable goods | Asset tracking and logistics

Maintaining the integrity of the cold chain is a critical challenge in the logistics industry, particularly when it comes to perishable goods like food, pharmaceuticals, and biomedical products. These sensitive assets require constant monitoring to ensure that they remain within acceptable temperature ranges throughout the supply chain. Any deviations or anomalies can lead to spoilage, loss, and potential health risks.

By outfitting shipping containers and other assets with smart IoT devices that transmit data via satellite, logistics providers can gain end-to-end visibility into the location and condition of perishable goods, even in remote or offshore locations where cellular connectivity may be limited or unavailable. These devices can continuously monitor temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors, as well as detect any tampering or unauthorized access.

Cold chain monitoring for perishable goods

Real-time data from these IoT devices can be analyzed using cloud-based platforms to provide actionable insights and alerts. For example, if a container’s temperature begins to deviate from the acceptable range, the system can immediately notify relevant stakeholders, allowing them to take corrective action before the goods are compromised. This proactive approach to cold chain monitoring can significantly reduce waste, improve quality control, and enhance customer satisfaction.

Other asset tracking and logistics applications of NTN and satellite IoT:

  • Fleet management and route optimization for logistics vehicles
  • Inventory management in remote warehouses or storage facilities
  • Tracking of high-value assets like industrial equipment or shipping containers
  • Monitoring of assets in remote locations like offshore oil platforms or mining sites

Oil and gas pipeline monitoring | Industrial monitoring

In the oil and gas industry, pipelines are critical infrastructure span vast distances across remote and challenging terrain. Monitoring these assets is essential for ensuring their integrity, preventing leaks and spills, and optimizing maintenance and repair activities. NTN and satellite IoT can provide a reliable and cost-effective solution for real-time pipeline monitoring, even in areas where terrestrial connectivity is limited or unavailable.

By deploying a network of satellite-connected sensors along the pipeline, operators can continuously monitor key parameters such as pressure, flow rate, temperature, and vibration. These sensors can detect anomalies or deviations from normal operating conditions, such as a sudden drop in pressure that could indicate a leak. The data collected by these sensors can be transmitted via satellite to a central monitoring system, where it can be analyzed using advanced algorithms and machine learning techniques to identify potential issues and predict maintenance needs.

Oil and gas pipeline monitoring

In addition to leak detection, NTN and satellite IoT can enable remote monitoring and control of pipeline infrastructure, such as valves, pumps, and compressors. This can allow operators to optimize pipeline performance, remotely diagnose and troubleshoot issues, and reduce the need for on-site inspections and maintenance visits. By enabling predictive maintenance and reducing downtime, NTN and satellite IoT can help oil and gas companies improve operational efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance safety and environmental compliance.

Other industrial monitoring applications of NTN and satellite IoT:

  • Remote monitoring and control of industrial equipment and machinery
  • Predictive maintenance for critical assets like wind turbines or mining equipment
  • Environmental monitoring for industrial sites and surrounding areas
  • Safety monitoring for workers in remote or hazardous environments

Methane monitoring | Environmental monitoring

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes significantly to climate change. In industries like oil and gas, agriculture, and waste management, monitoring and mitigating methane emissions is a critical priority for both environmental sustainability and regulatory compliance. 

By deploying a network of satellite-connected methane sensors at key emission sources, such as oil and gas wells, landfills, and livestock facilities, operators can continuously monitor methane levels and identify any abnormal or excessive emissions. These sensors can use advanced technologies like laser spectroscopy or infrared imaging to detect even low concentrations of methane in the atmosphere, providing highly accurate and sensitive measurements.

Methane monitoring

The data collected by these sensors can be transmitted via satellite to a cloud-based platform for analysis and reporting. This can allow operators to track methane emissions over time, identify trends and patterns, and pinpoint specific sources of high emissions for targeted mitigation efforts. By providing real-time, actionable data on methane emissions, NTN and satellite IoT can help companies reduce their environmental impact, meet sustainability goals, and ensure compliance with increasingly stringent regulations.

Other environmental monitoring applications of NTN and satellite IoT:

  • Air and water quality monitoring in remote or ecologically sensitive areas
  • Wildlife tracking and conservation efforts in remote habitats
  • Wildfire detection and monitoring in vast forested areas
  • Flood and landslide monitoring for early warning and disaster response
  • Ocean and coastal monitoring for environmental protection and sustainable resource management

Municipal infrastructure management | Smart cities and public safety

Managing municipal infrastructure like streetlights, traffic signals, and public safety equipment can be challenging, especially in remote or underserved areas where cellular connectivity may be limited. NTN and satellite IoT can provide a reliable and cost-effective solution for remotely monitoring and controlling these assets, enabling more efficient maintenance, energy management, and public safety operations.

For example, smart streetlights equipped with satellite-connected controllers can automatically adjust their brightness based on ambient light levels and pedestrian activity, reducing energy consumption and light pollution. These controllers can also monitor the status of each streetlight, detecting any malfunctions or outages and automatically notifying maintenance crews for prompt repairs. By optimizing streetlight performance and reducing maintenance costs, cities can save money while enhancing public safety and quality of life.

Municipal infrastructure management

Similarly, NTN and satellite IoT can enable remote monitoring and management of critical public safety infrastructure like emergency response vehicles, fire hydrants, and public warning systems. For example, sensors on fire trucks can monitor vehicle health and performance, ensuring that they are always ready for emergency response. Satellite-connected cameras and sensors can provide real-time situational awareness during emergencies, even in areas without cellular coverage. And remote management of public warning systems can allow authorities to quickly disseminate alerts and instructions to the public during natural disasters or other emergencies.

Other smart city and public safety applications of NTN and satellite IoT:

  • Smart waste management with fill-level monitoring and collection route optimization
  • Remote monitoring of water and wastewater infrastructure for leak detection and quality control
  • Smart parking solutions with real-time occupancy monitoring and dynamic pricing
  • Environmental monitoring for air and noise pollution in urban areas
  • Structural health monitoring for bridges, buildings, and other critical infrastructure

Business benefits and ROI

By enabling these applications across industries, non-terrestrial networks are helping businesses capture significant value, such as:

  • Improved operational efficiency and reduced downtime through remote monitoring and predictive maintenance
  • Enhanced supply chain visibility and optimization for reduced waste and faster decision-making
  • Increased sustainability and environmental stewardship through real-time emissions monitoring and resource management
  • Expanded coverage and reliability for IoT applications in remote or underserved areas
  • Accelerated innovation and time-to-market through end-to-end solutions 

As NTN and satellite technologies continue to advance and converge with IoT, we can expect to see a proliferation of new use cases and business models across industries. The ability to provide reliable, low-latency and high-bandwidth connectivity to remote and mobile assets will unlock new possibilities for automation, optimization, and innovation.

At the same time, the increasing availability of small, low-cost, and low-power satellite IoT devices will make it easier and more affordable for businesses to deploy and scale these solutions. And the emergence of end-to-end platforms like will simplify the development and management of NTN and satellite IoT applications, reducing barriers to entry and accelerating adoption.

Stackable device

Particle’s M-Series devices and platform are at the forefront of this revolution, enabling businesses to easily deploy, manage, and scale satellite IoT solutions across various industries. With real-time data analytics, predictive maintenance, and seamless integration with existing systems, Particle empowers enterprises to harness the full potential of NTN and satellite IoT for driving innovation, efficiency, and sustainability.

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