The Internet of Things (commonly abbreviated as IoT) provokes both plaudits and complaints. Many in the technology industry, especially around Silicon Valley, believe the IoT is not only here to stay, but will become the major disruptive innovator of the Twenty First Century. On the other hand, a small group of hardcore intellectuals and others who might be termed Luddites believe that the IoT is just a passing fad, a dream in the night, that will barely make a ripple in the world’s economy, infrastructure, social media, or communications. It’s too early to tell if that wrist device you wear or the self-aware refrigerator are truly revolutionary innovations or just smoke & mirrors. But this much is certain: The Internet of Things, especially via data transfer companies like Datawave Wireless is changing the way the world does business and is helping to solve some of the knottier riddles of medicine and global warming.
The smart city arrives
One of the most fascinating aspects of the intrusion of the IoT into the infrastructure is the burgeoning concept of the ‘smart city.’ The media has been sitting up and paying attention to the fact that many larger cities and their inhabitants are seeing some real improvement through the use of such things as smart street lighting, interactive parking strategies, and the convenience of on-demand garbage pickup instead of an unresponsive schedule loop. Some cities are even considering the possibility of using the IoT for drivers to be able to reserve a parking meter ahead of time in their downtown areas.
Cities are also discovering that the IoT helps prevent power outages. An Atlanta company recently installed an IoT system that discovered an electrical component that had shorted out. Not only did the IoT technology issue an immediate warning, but it went ahead and rerouted power couplings so that Atlanta avoided any major power outage. The city avoided the potential catastrophe of a power blackout and the city’s electrical grid dodged a bullet that could have damaged equipment to the tune of over 250 thousand dollars.
The IoT also helps out when it comes to traffic control. The Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh recently oversaw the installation of a traffic light system that incorporates IoT technology, essentially turning each stop light into a responsive sentinel that can sense when traffic flow is approaching gridlock and thus can vary the timing of stop and go light, while integrating its efforts with every other traffic light within a five block radius.
The Pittsburgh experiment has helped travel time in the inner city to decrease by an average of twenty five percent and has reduced by nearly a third the need for sudden braking or extensive vehicle idling. Needles to say, the Pittsburgh authorities are anxious to extend this IoT system to the outer perimeters of the city, and is pushing its suburbs to invest in the same kind of Iot technology. As IoT algorithms become more standardized and sophisticated, they can communicate with a wider and wider assortment of devices to help calculate traffic flow based on current conditions, as well as past performance. The data stored will help guide current and future infrastructure interactions in Pittsburgh.
The city of Albuquerque in New Mexico is showing the way of how the IoT can be useful by installing one of the first machine networks in the United States. This will allow the municipal government to issue traffic citations, update utility bills, and record payments, all online, without having to go to the expense of paying for postage — a major expense in the past. It’s more efficient to notify citizens of jury duty or remind them of civic meetings via their mobile devices, now that a majority of the population is plugged into mobile venues. And for those who are not yet using mobile devices, the IoT system will still be able to generate snail mail notification directly through the USPS, instead of taking up the time of city clerks.
With the interconnectivity of the IoT, it’s just a simple small step to massive use of predictive analytics. The two go hand in glove. It works for municipalities, government agencies, and businesses. For instance, IoT technology is being used to identify neighborhood areas that are more prone to crime or to fires. The results, obviously, is that civic government can allocate more resources to those areas to fight the problems. This is how the IoT helps governments become more proactive and less redundant as it targets problem neighborhoods with specific actions. This will have a tremendous impact on the quality of life for every citizen.
Yet another fascinating aspect of IoT usage is exploiting its predictive analytics for mapping pockets of air pollution in order to better understand how it is formed and where it is most likely to linger. It is also coming into its own as a way to measure the success of current air pollution anodynes. Engineers from Google, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the University of Texas at Austin have all pitched in together for a one year project that creates real-time mapping to measures hyperlocal pockets of air pollution over the city of Oakland in California.
The level of pollution came through collecting particulate data through using a IoT related fleet of vehicles, as well as stationary monitors that worked together in measuring the particulate and gas levels per each city block, at street level. It was a complex process that took advantage of the fact that the IoT doesn’t need to stop for meals or to sleep or to make physical adjustments. Instead, it was both collective and connected in a way that gave instant real-time tracking information to researchers. The aggregation and analysis of the data, which would take a team of scientists hours, if not days, to analyse and present, took the IoT system just a matter of minutes to digest and produce a detailed report.
It appears obvious that the Internet of Things has gone beyond being a mere trend. It is now an integral part of business and government, and it’s only course can be to continue to penetrate more deeply into our world in aspects that have not even been dreamed of yet.