The Internet of Things (IoT) is already here, and by 2020 there will be over 30 billion devices connected around the world. All of these ‘things’ will have the ability to feed information and data back through the internet for analysis and use, but they will also be providing opportunities for controlling environments, objects, and displays. A move towards using the IoT alongside collection and use of big data, and with augmented reality applications is already opening up opportunities for enhanced communications, learning, health support, as well as many applications in entertainment and leisure.
Here’s a great video from Deloitte UK to explain some of the developments already on their way in the years ahead – Think Big – Start Small.
There are some very useful tips in this video about how our businesses can begin to review and research how IoT can add to our value chain, our products and our services.
The video also points directly to the need for improved skills in our businesses too. More business in the next few years will be employing their own data scientists to help them with the effective collection and analysis of information and data.
And it's important that we don’t just stop at the IoT applications which our business might deploy internally. We must consider all the various applications and devices which our customers will be using in the years ahead, and how we can take advantage of their use of ‘things’ which relate to the services and products which we want to sell to those people.
So, for example, being able to identify your customer as someone with a range of IoT devices relating to
- their travel, car, cycling
- their health, wellbeing
- their leisure and sports
- their learning and skills development
By knowing some of the information which any of these sets of data from devices may provide will put you in a position of being able to develop and innovate your services and products aimed at this customer.
Here in Devon, and focussed on the city area, Exeter Futures have a clear vision about how the IoT developments of the years ahead can bring major improvements to the environment, transport, health and enjoyment of the city. Reducing congestion and improving air quality, generating enough energy for the city to be self-sufficient, reducing waste and improving education are already on the list of focus areas for the work being developed. Find out more by visiting Exeter City Futures.
Other cities around the world are now embracing the opportunities which IoT will bring, with similar ambitions to improve and grow their working and living standards as well as the economy. In the UK, London and Bristol are regarded as leading the way with smart city technology – digital innovation, social care, urban mobility, energy use and education, sustainability.
In Nice they’ve successfully run a smart parking initiative to reduce congestion and improve travel times around the city, take a look here.
And in London a collaboration between Plume Labs, Twitter and Imperial College has involved fitting pigeons with IoT ‘backpacks’ to help monitor air pollution. For more information click here or follow them on Twitter: @pigeonair
Then back to the South West, where the ‘Bristol is Open’ initiative developed as a partnership between the city council and the university. Director Paul Wilson recently commented - “I think something’s happening with data. So far what we call data has been in the ownership of a company or an individual but now there is beginning to be so much open public data as the Internet of things kicks in, with more to come, and this is what it's all about really.”
And recently news shared by various research projects indicates a concern. Most people who live in and around smart cities remain “clueless or indifferent” – they don’t know and/or don’t care about how its all happening really. This indicates an ongoing need for support, training and advocacy around these digital developments and their understanding. Some people may never really engage in learning these things, but others will once they understand how relevant and advantageous to their lives and work this will become.