The internet of things (IoT) is a concept that has been around for quite some time now. The idea is that technology will develop to the point where connected devices will be able to seamlessly interact with one another. Each device sharing information, data and updates in order to complete tasks or carry out instructions. A grand mesh of technology weaved together, working in harmony to change the way we interact with it and it interacts with itself.
Traffic flow is often an area cited as having great potential for IoT to find early success. Traffic lights, sensors in the road, and of course smart devices within the vehicles. Collecting and then sharing all this information and collaborating to provide optimum speeds, best routes to take, or predicting traffic congestion before it happens and re-routing vehicles automatically. All benefits that could be achieved by deploying the concept of IoT across a city.
Of course there are other areas that could be equally significantly impacted by IoT, and we believe by 2020 we will really start to see IoT lift off the pages and become a reality. Before then however, hardware is going to have to undergo a considerable overhaul. From street lights, to road signs, to post-boxes, everything will need to be connected with sensors and weaved together to share that data. Without devices collecting and sharing information, there is no IoT. In the business world, if you look at the capital equipment currently employed by enterprise, very little of it would be considered "smart". If you are working on an oil rig for example, it's highly unlikely many of the heavy manufacturing equipment around you will have any smart features.
These are very practical obstacles that need overcoming and with time, updates to equipment may come as standard. In the immediate future, what we are looking at is where hardware can be updated quicker. We believe the first candidates to be updated will be the tunnels, pipes and smart meters, all of which are ingrained in the infrastructure. We will see more smart devices woven into the networks that are already in place and then component items such as smart cars and buildings will begin to sprout up around them. For example, if an engineer is on his or her way to a job, their smart vehicle can relay the position of the vehicle on the road to a smart home, alerting the customer that the engineer will be with them shortly.
Running alongside the development of the physical must be the progression of the software. It is all well and good having a vast collection of data, but finding a repository to house it and then a system to turn it into usable information is a massive task. Businesses are currently grappling with how they deal with big data as it is. An introduction of IoT would see the level of data produced skyrocket. Whether that data is handled by a human or by an artificial intelligence is a topic that is up for debate.
When it comes to IoT helping to manage a workforce, you can see how the availability of data would be beneficial. Automatically knowing where resources are, instant updates when jobs are completed, estimates calculated on live data collected from devices on the ground would make the process more lean and efficient, optimising the time it takes to get to and complete a job and increase customer satisfaction. . It will take some time to fully realise this vision, but with so many benefits up for grabs, the motivation is there for software, hardware and all other stakeholders to significantly progress the concept of IoT by 2020 if not before.