Internet of Things (IoT)

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) is an umbrella terms to describe a broad range of data emitting devices. These devices send (and sometimes receive) data to other devices or systems either via the internet, Bluetooth signal or any number of methods to transmit data. Wearable devices, cell phones, surveillance cameras, thermostats, medical equipment, smart cars, smart homes, smart factories are just a few of the numerous ways IoT devices are deployed today. These systems allow medical systems, companies, individuals and governments the ability to monitor any number things in real time, detect issues quickly, deploy the correct resources, and analyze the data for insights in the future. Essentially, IoT devices provide any end user a dashboard with all the relevant information on one screen for them to get a snap shot of what is going on at any given time.

Companies has a lot to gain by properly implementing IoT initiatives which streamline their internal and external operations, lower cost, properly store, structure and analyze data in real time to make better and faster decisions. There is also the added benefit from collecting massive amounts of data which can later be analyzed by AI systems to look for new insights, anomalies or other innovations which cold benefit the business. Businesses of all sizes will lose greatly to their competitors who do deploy effective IoT strategies directly and indirectly with their business.

IoT isn't just important for companies and governments, it's the private citizen who has the most to gain and lose from the deployment of IoT devices is they understand how they are interacting with it. So what's the big deal? IoT is a huge deal for the following reasons which I believe are crucial for people to be aware of:

  1. Automation - IoT devices are directly and indirectly laying the groundwork for automation of jobs from the white collar office worker, field supervisors, factory workers and many others. The ability of companies to collect, monitor and act on relevant data without the assistance of a human worker will essentially automate significant portions of individuals jobs.
  2. Privacy - individuals should be aware of the amount, type and storage policies of the companies collecting their private data thru their devices. Many people are surprised to learn that they are not the only people with access to the data they are generating and even more troubling that they are not the rightful owners of the data. Individuals concerned about their privacy should understand the following for every third party agreement they enter into (think of photo storage or fitness trackers):
    1. Who can access my data at the company?
    2. How is my data stored? Does it have clear identifiers of who I am? Names, etc? Encrypted?
    3. How long will by data be stored on your severs after I delete my information or request my account to be deleted?
    4. Do they resell any portion of the data you share with with them to other companies and if so in what form?
  3. Security - companies and governments alike need to create robust security systems to protect consumer data which has been collected by them and to protect the access hackers would be able to get to individuals should their systems be breached. Companies that have a shoddy history of data breaches should be avoided.
  4. Legal Rights - individuals have to be aware of the rights they are giving up when they share their data with a third party. When we share our information with any third party, that information becomes very easy for the government to request, collect or otherwise use without you consent or knowledge. Consumers should also know that in many cases, companies can share and/or sell their data without their knowledge or consent.

Keep in mind this is not overkill or off topic for IoT but I assure you that it's not. Just about every IoT device which you willing purchase and in many cases pay a monthly fee for, is in fact spying on you. As informed citizen (no matter where you are reading this from) we should at the minimum be aware of what we are entering into both in our private lives in regards to out personal privacy.

Internet of Things and Big Data

Internet of Things devices are some of the largest contributors to the massive amounts of information which have create the massive data sets which are commonly referred to as Big Data. As you will learn Big Data is critical to the development of Artificial Intelligence Systems and the Deep Learning/Machine Learning which use this data to train and develop insights using their neural networks. 

It is estimated that in 2020, there will be over 20 billion active IoT devices connected on a daily basis with an associated $3 trillion in hardware spending. However, this is just the start in the the growth of IoT devices. As more non-connected systems, devices, machines just to name a few, the number of devices will quickly reach 100 billion connected devices by the mid 2030's and 1 trillion connected devices by the 2050's.

This growth in IoT will lead to a doubling of the total data in the world every few days or weeks. Over 90% of all the data available in the world was created in the last decade and currently the total amount of data in the world is doubling every 12 months.

Internet of Things and Smart Cities

Cities like Barcelona, Spain which has opted to streamline and improve the efficiency of their city for inhabitants and the bottom line have deployed a vast array of IoT sensors to transform Barcelona into a Smart City.  The city government identified: transportation, water, energy, waste, open government and several other areas with a total of 22 funded projects to address these areas. The main deliverables the Barcelona Smart City today have been:

  • Increase in internet WiFi hot spots around the city for a 670+. An increase of over 60%.
  • Interactive public transportation waiting areas with real time updates for times, delays etc. for buses, trolleys etc. These sites provide cell phone charging stations and WiFi.
  • Smart Parking: sub-pavement sensors have been installed under the streets to identify when a parking space is occupied or free. The sensor then relays this information to signs and apps to notify drivers of available parking spots. This has led to less congestion and over $50 million euros in increased yearly parking revenues.
  • Smart Lighting: sensors have been installed on public street lamps to dim lights at night when the street are empty and to increase the brightness when a car or person comes on the street. This has reduced the electricity waste by $37 million a year.