Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), millions of “hyper-connected” smart homes, smart cities, smart refrigerators, and smart cars are coming down the pike, with the promise of helping people and businesses run simple while creating an estimated $65 trillion in global trade.
A never-before-seen powerful infrastructure must be able to accommodate the massive volumes of data these “things” generate.
Thankfully, today’s smart businesses are building a new communications fabric that is uniquely suited for IoT. How are they doing it and what challenges are they facing along the way?
According to Dan McNamara, Chief Executive at Keytree, the backbone exists to handle the large data stream being generated from everyday objects but the industry-at-large still needs to figure out why IoT adoption is important in the first place.
“We have to understand where this technological experience is going to meet human experience,” McNamara said during a recent SAP Radio broadcast. “I think that focus will make the adoption of the Internet of Things much stronger.”
Evolution of IoT Infrastructure
Denis King, SVP of Global Field Operations and Strategic Alliances at Solace Systems agrees, believing the real appeal of IoT is when the story lies close to the end user, the smart device, where people can make intuitive decisions. So what happens when 30 million applications connect to an infrastructure?
“There’s been an incredible amount of R&D in advancement and innovation in instrumenting and lowering the cost of the sensor and the devices,” said King. “And there’s actually been quite a bit of work in the analytic space moving from the traditional business intelligence to more real time predictive analytics.”
King believes the IoT infrastructure, communications standards and what data actually makes it back to the cloud of a data center needs to evolve.
Protecting IoT Privacy
Christine Hertzog, Founder and Managing Director of the Smart Grid Library believes there are many potential uses and benefits for different IoT stakeholders – and this creates privacy issues.
“There is definitely a monetization of this data and monetization can create privacy issues,” said Herzog. “It’s going to be important to keep in mind where ownership of that data should reside and what rules need to be put around it.”
IoT privacy comprises much more than people, according to Hertzog. For example, if data is being generated on the energy consumption of a building that becomes a privacy or competition issue as a business may not want competitors knowing how their business is doing based on that energy consumption data.
“It’s not a person, it’s not an individual, but it is an individual company and there might be some sensitivity to that data,” said Hertzog.
Where’s The Killer IoT App?
The killer IoT app may be here soon, thanks to the high level of interest in smart cities, buildings and transportation.
For example, air conditioning, lighting, fire alarms are all systems and can cede into central network. This can become a bit more advanced, possibly a bit more intelligent and behavioral based, which is already starting to happen, according to Keytree’s McNamara. “There’s a good business case with sustainability goals and efficiencies to be considered so I see smart buildings being an area of interest,” he said.
And even though home automation, smart metering, manufacturing, oil, gas and mining are catching on to IoT, according to King of Solace Systems, railways are benefitting from IoT big time. Some of the largest railway systems in the world have quadrupled the number of sensors on tracks to control trains better.
“And for every single mile an hour faster they can make those trains go with better control saves them in the order of $200 million on the bottom line,” said King. “These are use cases that we don’t hear about or we don’t talk about, but certainly ones that we see quite regularly.”
Hetzog of Smart Grid Library said certain killer IoT apps exist within city infrastructures like Los Angeles where sophisticated traffic light sensing systems help officials understand if they need to re-think the timing of their lights differently to avoid congestion.
“There’s fair amount of automation involved so that may be a killer app for them. It includes traffic flow and alleviates one of the problems or complaints of the citizens of that city have and it helps to make it more livable.”