Posted By Yodit Stanton on May 25, 2016
The Internet of Things hype cycle is in overdrive, as someone working in the area this is theoretically great but it getting harder and harder to filter out the marketing hype. What is the Internet of Things? Some describe it as the ability to connect billions devices to the internet THEN auto-magically creating Trillions of dollars in revenues. Just connect any normal devices and let the good times roll right? If only...
The internet of Things is much more than a licence to print money. It should give us the ability to understand the world around us in unprecedented detail. If the web is a human curated knowledge base, IoT is the machine generated illustration of our world. There will be many IoT applications that will significantly change the way we live and work over the coming 5-10 years.
IoT descriptions can seem quite futurist but what does this actually mean for most of us today?
Within commercial buildings, IoT is taking existing infrastructure and improving and simplifying it. Whilst previously landlords had to buy expensive building management systems tied to 1 or 2 vendors, more and more building companies are starting to shift the management of their data to the cloud. Node Red open source community members contribute integration points to traditional buildings protocols like modbus letting companies view and analyse their data independently. Friction free access to data enables better analytics through the stitching together of multiple data sets. As a result, galleries can better quantify the energy impact of visitor footfall, architects use beacons and footfall monitors to create better designed and user friendly buildings.
Why Open Data?
The more data a service has access to the ‘smarter’ it can become, silo’ed data stores inhibit this. Unfortunately, the 1st iteration of IoT architecture is a ‘thing’ or a set of things with their own app and/or dashboard. Data is not available to be integrated into the multitude of other services we use.
Parking companies and municipalities deploy parking sensors but you have to download their particular branded app to find information. This approach means downloading several ‘parking’ apps from several companies in 1 city. I would argue most people would rather see parking information in services they already use daily, such as citymapper and google maps. Being too focused on the 1 app for 1 thing architecture gives the mistaken belief that competitive moats are built with the ability to control people’s experiences. In truth, hardware firms that will win are those that create a thriving ecosystem around their products, the more your ‘thing’ seamlessly integrates into my life the more I will use it.
IoT service providers are also starting to understand that their products cannot be truly ‘smart’ until they build on existing data sets.
In the simplest case, air quality within a building is influenced by air quality outside. To understand air quality we have to utilise information from our own sensors as well as data from others. Having access to weather, traffic, local flooding dangers and footfall datapoints enables us to configure better building automation systems.
The real IoT revolution is actually happening quietly, away from the spotlight and marketing dollars of big companies, with communities gathering and publishing millions of data points daily from sensors with Open Data Licensing. Communities such as Herelab in Martha’s vineyard, Massachusetts implemented a smart island project sensing water quality and many other factors. Schools across the world are starting to teach electronics by enabling students to configure and deploy air quality sensors. This has the direct result of giving the world it’s first view of granular information that never previously existed.
Hardware manufacturers such as air quality egg, the flood network and others are creating innovative products which are being deployed at scale all over the world. More successful products like these are the acorns of the real IoT revolution.
Yodit is currently growing OpenSensors.io, a real time data exchange for the Internet of Things. Her organisation enables anyone to publish and subscribe to real time open data in order to be able to build higher order smart systems and better understand the world around them.
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