BI and Tech

What is The Internet of Things?

A lot of people are talking about the Internet of Things, but what does it mean?

With the advent of wireless connectivity many more ‘things’ are able to collect and provide data without direct human intervention. This is leading to a wide variety of remarkable new data sets.

Below are a few examples of where connected technology is being used in very different industries.

A farmer can now monitor nutrient and water levels across his fields.

Using biosensors he can also tell when and where one of his cows has gone into labour. Meanwhile a state of the art tractor can drive itself using GPS and selectively deliver nutrients to the parts of the fields that require it the most, to improve crop growth and yield.

In the automotive industry a car can now report faults directly to a garage which automatically orders a replacement part.

The logistics company can then send tracking information to the garage so they can message the customer about the fault and when to bring their car in for repair. All of this can be done without direct interaction between two humans at any stage.

Does this all sound a bit scary? Maybe Skynet and the terminators with their artificial intelligence are going to take over after all.

But before we start to panic, let’s take a moment to understand where we are and where connected technology could take us.

If you carry a mobile phone then you are already part of a network.  Like it or not your network provider has always known where you are.

Your phone supplies GPS data which allows companies like Google to plot our combined movements. This is what you see when you look at Google traffic. It’s showing phones moving slowly on roads. 

Guess who else uses this data? Retailers.

They want to know how we move around a shopping centre so they can better plan their displays. This may be data about you, but it’s not your data. So what are some of the ‘things’ being tracked and monitored?

These include people, livestock, vehicles, drones, and anything that has sensors and is connected to a data network.

So if used by Skynet it could get a little scary with so much being done automatically, but this monitoring also has the possibility of providing many benefits to society. Here are a few examples:-

Agriculture

Improved targeting of pesticides and fertilisers can reduce their usage and create cheaper food, plus there is less of an impact on the environment.

Healthcare

Sensors that monitor vitals such as blood pressure, glucose levels, heart rate, and even physical level of activity can all be used to create a personalised health plan that is designed to keep you healthier for longer.

This will reduce the impact on healthcare services, reduce the costs of provision, and improve the general health of the population.

Vehicles

In the event of an accident, sensors built into a car can trigger an alert to tertiary response organisations, such as a breakdown provider and inform your insurance company, as well as alert the emergency services.

GPS information from your vehicle will also help them determine the fastest route to you.

Other information such as the weather, flow of traffic in the area and speed the vehicle was travelling at prior to the accident, will give emergency responders a better idea of the type of trauma they are likely to encounter.

Business intelligence software can analyse all of this data to help organisations continuously deliver further improvements.

It can help predict the future, as patterns emerge in the data, allowing you to make preparations and effectively target areas that need the most work.

Every aspect of our daily life is awash with huge amounts of data sets, and the volume is growing every year, so the Internet of Things is only going to keep growing as well.

If we don’t start analysing this data, to make things better across many areas, then others will use it to their own advantage.